An object is subject to two forces that do not point in opposite directions. Is it possible to...

Question:

An object is subject to two forces that do not point in opposite directions. Is it possible to choose their magnitudes so that the object is in equilibrium? Explain.

Equilibrium

Equilibrium is a state of motion where the net forces (both linear and angular) are zero. In such a state, the acceleration of the system is zero.

Answer and Explanation:

Essentially, no. If there are only two forces acting on a system, and they are not in opposite directions, then the sum for all directions cannot be zero. Note that an object against a surface will be subject to the normal force, and that must be one of the two involved.

Now, the definition of direction can be somewhat fudged here. Say we have a bent rod rotating about the crease where it was bent. If two linear forces are applied to the legs of the rod, then they will not be in opposite directions. If the resultant torques add to zero, then the system in in equilibrium.

However, when you consider the direction of the torques, in cylindrical coordinates, those torques were in opposite directions. So, still no.


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Force in Physics: Definition & Examples

from General Studies Science: Help & Review

Chapter 4 / Lesson 7
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