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.

- Tension in one dimension
- Tension of three dimensions
- System in equilibrium
- System under net force
- Strings in modern physics
- See also
- References

At the atomic level, when atoms or molecules are pulled apart from each other and gain potential energy with a restoring force still existing, the restoring force might create what is also called tension. Each end of a string or rod under such tension could pull on the object it is attached to, in order to restore the string/rod to its relaxed length.

In physics, tension, as a transmitted force, as an action-reaction pair of forces, or as a restoring force, may be a force and has the units of force measured in newtons (or sometimes pounds-force). The ends of a string or other object transmitting tension will exert forces on the objects to which the string or rod is connected, in the direction of the string at the point of attachment. These forces due to tension are also called "passive forces". There are two basic possibilities for systems of objects held by strings:^{ [1] } either acceleration is zero and the system is therefore in equilibrium, or there is acceleration, and therefore a net force is present in the system.

Tension in a string is a non-negative vector quantity. Zero tension is slack. A string or rope is often idealized as one dimension, having length but being massless with zero cross section. If there are no bends in the string, as occur with vibrations or pulleys, then tension is a constant along the string, equal to the magnitude of the forces applied by the ends of the string. By Newton's third law, these are the same forces exerted on the ends of the string by the objects to which the ends are attached. If the string curves around one or more pulleys, it will still have constant tension along its length in the idealized situation that the pulleys are massless and frictionless. A vibrating string vibrates with a set of frequencies that depend on the string's tension. These frequencies can be derived from Newton's laws of motion. Each microscopic segment of the string pulls on and is pulled upon by its neighboring segments, with a force equal to the tension at that position along the string.

If the string has curvature, then the two pulls on a segment by its two neighbors will not add to zero, and there will be a net force on that segment of the string, causing an acceleration. This net force is a restoring force, and the motion of the string can include transverse waves that solve the equation central to Sturm–Liouville theory:

where is the force constant per unit length [units force per area] and are the eigenvalues for resonances of transverse displacement on the string,^{ [2] } with solutions that include the various harmonics on a stringed instrument.

Tension is also used to describe the force exerted by the ends of a three-dimensional, continuous material such as a rod or truss member. In this context, tension is analogous to negative pressure. A rod under tension elongates. The amount of elongation and the load that will cause failure both depend on the force per cross-sectional area rather than the force alone, so stress = axial force / cross sectional area is more useful for engineering purposes than tension. Stress is a 3x3 matrix called a tensor, and the element of the stress tensor is tensile force per area, or compression force per area, denoted as a negative number for this element, if the rod is being compressed rather than elongated.

Thus, one can obtain a scalar analogous to tension by taking the trace of the stress tensor.

A system is in equilibrium when the sum of all forces is zero.^{ [1] }

For example, consider a system consisting of an object that is being lowered vertically by a string with tension, *T*, at a constant velocity. The system has a constant velocity and is therefore in equilibrium because the tension in the string, which is pulling up on the object, is equal to the weight force, mg ("m" is mass, "g" is the acceleration caused by the gravity of Earth), which is pulling down on the object.^{ [1] }

A system has a net force when an unbalanced force is exerted on it, in other words the sum of all forces is not zero. Acceleration and net force always exist together.^{ [1] }

For example, consider the same system as above but suppose the object is now being lowered with an increasing velocity downwards (positive acceleration) therefore there exists a net force somewhere in the system. In this case, negative acceleration would indicate that .^{ [1] }

In another example, suppose that two bodies A and B having masses and , respectively, are connected with each other by an inextensible string over a frictionless pulley. There are two forces acting on the body A: its weight () pulling down, and the tension in the string pulling up. Therefore, the net force on body A is , so . In an extensible string, Hooke's law applies.

String-like objects in relativistic theories, such as the strings used in some models of interactions between quarks, or those used in the modern string theory, also possess tension. These strings are analyzed in terms of their world sheet, and the energy is then typically proportional to the length of the string. As a result, the tension in such strings is independent of the amount of stretching.

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A **centripetal force** is a force that makes a body follow a curved path. Its direction is always orthogonal to the motion of the body and towards the fixed point of the instantaneous center of curvature of the path. Isaac Newton described it as "a force by which bodies are drawn or impelled, or in any way tend, towards a point as to a centre". In Newtonian mechanics, gravity provides the centripetal force causing astronomical orbits.

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**.

**Statics** is the branch of mechanics that is concerned with the analysis of acting on physical systems that do not experience an acceleration (*a*=0), but rather, are in static equilibrium with their environment. The application of Newton's second law to a system gives:

The **tidal force** is a gravitational effect that stretches a body along the line towards the center of mass of another body due to a gradient in gravitational field from the other body; it is responsible for diverse phenomena, including tides, tidal locking, breaking apart of celestial bodies and formation of ring systems within the Roche limit, and in extreme cases, spaghettification of objects. It arises because the gravitational field exerted on one body by another is not constant across its parts: the nearest side is attracted more strongly than the farthest side. It is this difference that causes a body to get stretched. Thus, the tidal force is also known as the differential force, as well as a secondary effect of the gravitational field.

In fluid mechanics, **hydrostatic equilibrium** is the condition of a fluid or plastic solid at rest, which occurs when external forces, such as gravity, are balanced by a pressure-gradient force. In the planetary physics of Earth, the pressure-gradient force prevents gravity from collapsing the planetary atmosphere into a thin, dense shell, whereas gravity prevents the pressure-gradient force from diffusing the atmosphere into outer space.

In fluid dynamics, **Bernoulli's principle** states that an increase in the speed of a fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in static pressure or a decrease in the fluid's potential energy. The principle is named after Daniel Bernoulli who published it in his book *Hydrodynamica* in 1738. Although Bernoulli deduced that pressure decreases when the flow speed increases, it was Leonhard Euler in 1752 who derived **Bernoulli's equation** in its usual form. The principle is only applicable for isentropic flows: when the effects of irreversible processes and non-adiabatic processes are small and can be neglected.

In physics, **work** is the energy transferred to or from an object via the application of force along a displacement. In its simplest form, it is often represented as the product of force and displacement. A force is said to do positive work if it has a component in the direction of the displacement of the point of application. A force does negative work if it has a component opposite to the direction of the displacement at the point of application of the force.

In physics, the **center of mass** of a distribution of mass in space is the unique point where the weighted relative position of the distributed mass sums to zero. This is the point to which a force may be applied to cause a linear acceleration without an angular acceleration. Calculations in mechanics are often simplified when formulated with respect to the center of mass. It is a hypothetical point where the entire mass of an object may be assumed to be concentrated to visualise its motion. In other words, the center of mass is the particle equivalent of a given object for application of Newton's laws of motion.

**Buoyancy**, or **upthrust**, is an upward force exerted by a fluid that opposes the weight of a partially or fully immersed object. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus the pressure at the bottom of a column of fluid is greater than at the top of the column. Similarly, the pressure at the bottom of an object submerged in a fluid is greater than at the top of the object. The pressure difference results in a net upward force on the object. The magnitude of the force is proportional to the pressure difference, and is equivalent to the weight of the fluid that would otherwise occupy the submerged volume of the object, i.e. the displaced fluid.

**Terminal velocity** is the maximum velocity (speed) attainable by an object as it falls through a fluid. It occurs when the sum of the drag force (*F _{d}*) and the buoyancy is equal to the downward force of gravity (

**Archimedes' principle** states that the upward buoyant force that is exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces. Archimedes' principle is a law of physics fundamental to fluid mechanics. It was formulated by Archimedes of Syracuse.

**Electrostatics** is a branch of physics that studies electric charges at rest.

In mechanics, the **net force** is the vector sum of forces acting on a particle or object. The net force is a single force that replaces the effect of the original forces on the particle's motion. It gives the particle the same acceleration as all those actual forces together as described by Newton's second law of motion.

**Fluid statics** or **hydrostatics** is the branch of fluid mechanics that studies the condition of the equilibrium of a floating body and submerged body "fluids at hydrostatic equilibrium and the pressure in a fluid, or exerted by a fluid, on an immersed body".

In physics, **circular motion** is a movement of an object along the circumference of a circle or rotation along a circular path. It can be uniform, with constant angular rate of rotation and constant speed, or non-uniform with a changing rate of rotation. The rotation around a fixed axis of a three-dimensional body involves circular motion of its parts. The equations of motion describe the movement of the center of mass of a body. In circular motion, the distance between the body and a fixed point on the surface remains the same.

A vibration in a string is a wave. Resonance causes a **vibrating string** to produce a sound with constant frequency, i.e. constant pitch. If the length or tension of the string is correctly adjusted, the sound produced is a musical tone. Vibrating strings are the basis of string instruments such as guitars, cellos, and pianos.

The **pressure-gradient force** is the force that results when there is a difference in pressure across a surface. In general, a pressure is a force per unit area, across a surface. A difference in pressure across a surface then implies a difference in force, which can result in an acceleration according to Newton's second law of motion, if there is no additional force to balance it. The resulting force is always directed from the region of higher-pressure to the region of lower-pressure. When a fluid is in an equilibrium state, the system is referred to as being in hydrostatic equilibrium. In the case of atmospheres, the pressure-gradient force is balanced by the gravitational force, maintaining hydrostatic equilibrium. In Earth's atmosphere, for example, air pressure decreases at altitudes above Earth's surface, thus providing a pressure-gradient force which counteracts the force of gravity on the atmosphere.

In physics, the motion of an electrically charged particle such as an electron or ion in a plasma in a magnetic field can be treated as the superposition of a relatively fast circular motion around a point called the **guiding center** and a relatively slow **drift** of this point. The drift speeds may differ for various species depending on their charge states, masses, or temperatures, possibly resulting in electric currents or chemical separation.

In physics and astronomy, an ** N-body simulation** is a simulation of a dynamical system of particles, usually under the influence of physical forces, such as gravity.

The **Cauchy momentum equation** is a vector partial differential equation put forth by Cauchy that describes the non-relativistic momentum transport in any continuum.

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*Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics*, Section 5.7. Seventh Edition, Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning, 2008. - ↑ A. Fetter and J. Walecka. (1980). Theoretical Mechanics of Particles and Continua. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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