12.
Static Equilibrium
2
Conditions for Equilibrium
A bridge is an example
of a system in static
equilibrium. The bridge
undergoes neither
linear nor rotational
motion!
3
0 t =
the net external torque is zero
0 F =
the net external force is zero
Conditions for Equilibrium
A system is in static equilibrium if:
4
Problem Solving Guideline
All static equilibrium problems are solved the same
way:
1. Find all external forces
2. Choose a pivot
3. Find all external torques
4. Set net force to zero
5. Set net torque to zero
6. Solve for unknown
quantities
5
Problem Solving Guideline
It is generally simpler to choose the pivot at the
point of application of the force for which you
have the least information.
6
Example A Drawbridge
What is the tension in the
supporting cable of a 14 m,
11,000 kg drawbridge?
Forces:
1. Force at pivot
2. Tension in cable
3. Weight of bridge
7
Example A Drawbridge
Pivot:
A sensible choice is the
hinge since we do not
know the exact direction
of the hinge force, nor do
we care about it!
8
Example A Drawbridge
Torques:
Due to the weight
t
g
= (L/2) mg sinu
1
(This torque is into the
page. Why?)
Due to the tension
t
T
= LT sinu
2
Examples of
Static Equilibrium
10
Example A Leaning Ladder
At what minimum angle can the ladder lean
without slipping?
The wall is frictionless and there
is friction between the floor and
the ladder.
11
Example A Leaning Ladder
Forces:
1. Normal force at bottom of ladder
2. Friction force at bottom of ladder
3. Ladders weight
4. Normal force at top of ladder
Pivot:
Choose bottom of ladder
Why?
12
Example A Leaning Ladder
Torques:
1. Due to ladders weight
2. Due to normal force at top of
ladder
Solve:
Force, x: n
1
n
2
= 0
Force, y: n
1
mg = 0
Torque:
Ln
2
sin (L/2) mg cos = 0
13
Example A Leaning Ladder
From the force equations we get n
2
= mg.
Therefore,
sin (1/2)cos = 0
and so,
tan = 1/(2)
14
Example Standing on a Plank
0 t =
= 0 F
15
Example Standing on a Plank
0
R L
M mg F g F + =
2
( 2 ) 0
2
R
L d
L d Mg m F gd
 
+ =

\ .
Net force:
Net torque:
16
Example Standing on a Plank
1
2 2
R
d
M m g
L d
F
 
=

\ .
Force on right scale
Do these make sense?
1
2 2
L
L d
M m g
L d
F
 
= +

\ .
Force on left scale
17
Example Force on Elbow
What is the force on the elbow?
m = 6 kg
Assume biceps force acts
3.4 cm from pivot point O.
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Example Force on Elbow
0 t =
= 0 F
Model forearm as a horizontal
rod
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Example Force on Elbow
0
2
h m
L
m F d mgL + =
The force we know least about is
the force on the elbow. So, lets
take the elbow (O) as the pivot.
Net torque:
1
2
m h
L
F m m g
d
 
= +

\ .
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Example Force on Elbow
,
0 0 0 0
ua x
F + + + =
Net force
,
0
m ua y h
F F m g mg + =
= 0 F
x:
y:
,
( )
h ua y m
m m F g F = +
21
Summary
For a system to be in static equilibrium, both
the net force and the net torque must be zero.
When solving static equilibrium problems, it
often simplifies things to choose the pivot so
that the torque from unknown forces is zero.