Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Statics is the branch of physics that is concerned with physical systems that are in static equilibrium, that is, in a state where the relative positions of subsystems do not vary over time, or where components and structures are at rest under the action of external forces of equilibrium. When in static equilibrium, the system is either at rest or moving at constant velocity through its center of mass.
By Newton's second law, this situation implies that the net force and net torque on every subsystem is zero, meaning that for every force bearing upon a member, there must be an equal and opposite force. From this constraint, such quantities as stress or pressure can be derived. The net forces equalling zero is known as the first condition for equilibrium, and the net torque equalling zero is known as the second condition for equilibrium. See statically determinate.
Statics is thoroughly used in the analysis of structures, for instance in architectural and structural engineering. Strength of materials is a related field of mechanics that relies heavily on the application of static equilibrium.
Hydrostatics, a related field, analyzes systems in static equilibrium which involve forces due to mechanical fluids.
In economics "static" analysis has substantially the same meaning as in physics. Since the time of Paul Samuelson's Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947), the focus has been on "comparative statics", i.e., the comparison of one static equilibrium to another, with little or no discussion of the process of going between them – except to note the exogenous changes that caused the movement.
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