In physics, the restoring force is a force that acts to bring a body to its equilibrium position. The restoring force is a function only of position of the mass or particle, and it is always directed back toward the equilibrium position of the system. The restoring force is often referred to in simple harmonic motion. The force responsible for restoring original size and shape is called the restoring force.
An example is the action of a spring. An idealized spring exerts a force proportional to the amount of deformation of the spring from its equilibrium length, exerted in a direction oppose the deformation. Pulling the spring to a greater length causes it to exert a force that brings the spring back toward its equilibrium length. The amount of force can be determined by multiplying the spring constant, characteristic of the spring, by the amount of stretch, also known as Hooke's Law.
Another example is of a pendulum. When a pendulum is not swinging all the forces acting on it are in equilibrium. The force due to gravity and the mass of the object at the end of the pendulum is equal to the tension in the string holding the object up. When a pendulum is put in motion, the place of equilibrium is at the bottom of the swing, the location where the pendulum rests. When the pendulum is at the top of its swing the force returning the pendulum to this midpoint is gravity. As a result, gravity may be seen as a restoring force.
In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity, i.e., to accelerate. Force can also be described intuitively as a push or a pull. A force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity. It is measured in the SI unit of newton (N). Force is represented by the symbol F.
Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:
In classical mechanics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that, when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force F proportional to the displacement x:
Oscillation is the repetitive or periodic variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value or between two or more different states. Familiar examples of oscillation include a swinging pendulum and alternating current. Oscillations can be used in physics to approximate complex interactions, such as those between atoms.
A pendulum clock is a clock that uses a pendulum, a swinging weight, as its timekeeping element. The advantage of a pendulum for timekeeping is that it is a harmonic oscillator: It swings back and forth in a precise time interval dependent on its length, and resists swinging at other rates. From its invention in 1656 by Christiaan Huygens, inspired by Galileo Galilei, until the 1930s, the pendulum clock was the world's most precise timekeeper, accounting for its widespread use. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, pendulum clocks in homes, factories, offices, and railroad stations served as primary time standards for scheduling daily life, work shifts, and public transportation. Their greater accuracy allowed for the faster pace of life which was necessary for the Industrial Revolution. The home pendulum clock was replaced by less-expensive, synchronous, electric clocks in the 1930s and '40s. Pendulum clocks are now kept mostly for their decorative and antique value.
In mechanics and physics, simple harmonic motion is a special type of periodic motion where the restoring force on the moving object is directly proportional to the magnitude of the object's displacement and acts towards the object's equilibrium position. It results in an oscillation which continues indefinitely, if uninhibited by friction or any other dissipation of energy.
In science and engineering, the weight of an object is the force acting on the object due to gravity.
A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When a pendulum is displaced sideways from its resting, equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position. When released, the restoring force acting on the pendulum's mass causes it to oscillate about the equilibrium position, swinging back and forth. The time for one complete cycle, a left swing and a right swing, is called the period. The period depends on the length of the pendulum and also to a slight degree on the amplitude, the width of the pendulum's swing.
Newton's laws of motion are three basic laws of classical mechanics that describe the relationship between the motion of an object and the forces acting on it. These laws can be paraphrased as follows:
An inverted pendulum is a pendulum that has its center of mass above its pivot point. It is unstable and without additional help will fall over. It can be suspended stably in this inverted position by using a control system to monitor the angle of the pole and move the pivot point horizontally back under the center of mass when it starts to fall over, keeping it balanced. The inverted pendulum is a classic problem in dynamics and control theory and is used as a benchmark for testing control strategies. It is often implemented with the pivot point mounted on a cart that can move horizontally under control of an electronic servo system as shown in the photo; this is called a cart and pole apparatus. Most applications limit the pendulum to 1 degree of freedom by affixing the pole to an axis of rotation. Whereas a normal pendulum is stable when hanging downwards, an inverted pendulum is inherently unstable, and must be actively balanced in order to remain upright; this can be done either by applying a torque at the pivot point, by moving the pivot point horizontally as part of a feedback system, changing the rate of rotation of a mass mounted on the pendulum on an axis parallel to the pivot axis and thereby generating a net torque on the pendulum, or by oscillating the pivot point vertically. A simple demonstration of moving the pivot point in a feedback system is achieved by balancing an upturned broomstick on the end of one's finger.
A spring is an elastic object that stores mechanical energy. Springs are typically made of spring steel. There are many spring designs. In everyday use, the term often refers to coil springs.
A torsion spring is a spring that works by twisting its end along its axis; that is, a flexible elastic object that stores mechanical energy when it is twisted. When it is twisted, it exerts a torque in the opposite direction, proportional to the amount (angle) it is twisted. There are various types:
In physics, complex harmonic motion is a complicated realm based on the simple harmonic motion. The word "complex" refers to different situations. Unlike simple harmonic motion, which is regardless of air resistance, friction, etc., complex harmonic motion often has additional forces to dissipate the initial energy and lessen the speed and amplitude of an oscillation until the energy of the system is totally drained and the system comes to rest at its equilibrium point.
In classical mechanics, anharmonicity is the deviation of a system from being a harmonic oscillator. An oscillator that is not oscillating in harmonic motion is known as an anharmonic oscillator where the system can be approximated to a harmonic oscillator and the anharmonicity can be calculated using perturbation theory. If the anharmonicity is large, then other numerical techniques have to be used. In reality all oscillating systems are anharmonic, but most approximate the harmonic oscillator the smaller the amplitude of the oscillation is.
Mechanical resonance is the tendency of a mechanical system to respond at greater amplitude when the frequency of its oscillations matches the system's natural frequency of vibration than it does at other frequencies. It may cause violent swaying motions and potentially catastrophic failure in improperly constructed structures including bridges, buildings and airplanes. This is a phenomenon known as resonance disaster.
In physics, tension is described as the pulling force transmitted axially by the means of a string, a cable, chain, or similar object, or by each end of a rod, truss member, or similar three-dimensional object; tension might also be described as the action-reaction pair of forces acting at each end of said elements. Tension could be the opposite of compression.
A pendulum is a body suspended from a fixed support so that it swings freely back and forth under the influence of gravity. When a pendulum is displaced sideways from its resting, equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position. When released, the restoring force acting on the pendulum's mass causes it to oscillate about the equilibrium position, swinging it back and forth. The mathematics of pendulums are in general quite complicated. Simplifying assumptions can be made, which in the case of a simple pendulum allow the equations of motion to be solved analytically for small-angle oscillations.
Vibration is a mechanical phenomenon whereby oscillations occur about an equilibrium point. The word comes from Latin vibrationem. The oscillations may be periodic, such as the motion of a pendulum—or random, such as the movement of a tire on a gravel road.
In physics, the concept of absolute rotation—rotation independent of any external reference—is a topic of debate about relativity, cosmology, and the nature of physical laws.
This glossary of physics is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to physics, its sub-disciplines, and related fields, including mechanics, materials science, nuclear physics, particle physics, and thermodynamics. For more inclusive glossaries concerning related fields of science and technology, see Glossary of chemistry terms, Glossary of astronomy, Glossary of areas of mathematics, and Glossary of engineering.