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Two bars are attached to a single spring of constant $k$ that is unstretched when the bars are vertical. Determine the range of values of $P$ for which the equilibrium of the system is stable in the position shown.
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Physics 101 Mechanics
Method of Virtual Work
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
In physics, work is the transfer of energy by a force acting through a distance. The "work" of a force F on an object that it pushes is defined as the product of the force and the distance through which it moves the object. For example, if a force of 10 newtons (N) acts through a distance of 2 meters (m), then doing 10 joules (J) of work on that object requires exerting a force of 10 N for 2 m. Work is a scalar quantity, meaning that it can be described by a single number-for example, if a force of 3 newtons acts through a distance of 2 meters, then the work done is 6 joules.
Work is due to a force acting on a point that is stationary-that is, a point where the force is applied does not move. By Newton's third law, the force of the reaction is equal and opposite to the force of the action, so the point where the force is applied does work on the person applying the force.
In the example above, the force of the person pushing the block is 3 N. The force of the block on the person is also 3 N. The difference between the two forces is the work done on the block by the person, which can be calculated as the force of the block times the distance through which it moves, or 3 N × 2 m = 6 J.
In physics, mechanical energy is the sum of the kinetic and potential energies of a system.
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