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Experiment 204: Torque: Second Condition of Equilibrium


Department of Physics
School of Civil Engineering and Geological Engineering
Mapua Institute of Technology
PHY11L A1 Group 4

In civil engineering, we refer torque as the bending moment as it is defined as the force that
changes the shape of rigid bodies. We use moments and moments of inertia to determine weak
and strong points of members in our structures and also depending where the axis of rotation is.
To our field, this is important because we must meet the demands of our clients, make top quality
structures, and of course, help to improve and save lives.
Torque, which is developed by Archimedes, is the ability of force to change the rotational motion
of a particle and an influence to change the rotational motion of an object. For a body to be in
equilibrium the sum of all the torques acting on it, clockwise and counter clockwise, should be
zero. Equilibrium implies a state of balance. Its second condition states that the net torque acting
on the body should be zero for angular acceleration to be zero.
The purpose of this experiment is to study the principles of torque through the application of
Newtons second condition of equilibrium. The students were tasked with obtaining the weight
and forces of certain apparatuses through the analysis of equilibrium so as to practice and
understand more clearly the significance of torque in the process. In order to evaluate their
findings, the students were prompted to compare their gathered data with actual values through
the computation of the percent differences. This relationship between torque and equilibrium is
the main background of the experiment which was conducted.
By the end of the experiment, it is expected for students to know the second condition of
equilibrium. They will learn how the second condition affects an object or a body. They will also
learn how to apply the second condition in computing the unknown data in the experiment.
Through this experiment, the students will gain more knowledge and appreciation about the
concepts on torque and how different is first condition of equilibrium to the second one. Students
will also appreciate the concept of second condition of equilibrium and how it is important in
studying physics.
A. Determining the Weight of the Pans
1. Set-up the model balance as shown in Figure 2 and make sure that the axis of rotation
is passing through the center of gravity of the beam.

2. Mark your pans as P1 and P2. Place W1 = 10g weight on P1. Place the two pans on the
beam so that the system is in equilibrium as shown in Figure 3. Measure L1 and L2.

3. Take off the weight from P1 and place W2 = 5g weight on P2. Set the system again in
equilibrium and measure L3 and L4. See Figure 4.

4. Repeat procedures 2 and 3 for trials 2 and 3. Use W1 = 15g and W2 = 25g weights for
trial 2 and W1 = 30g and W2 = 20g weights for trial 3.
5. Using the equations formed in procedures 2 and 3, compute for P1 and P2 for each
B. Determining the Force needed to be in Equilibrium
1. Place the spring balance and W1 = 50g weight on P1 at the left side of the beam, as
shown in Figure 5. Make sure that the angle of inclination of the spring balance with
the beam is less than 90 while the beam is kept in horizontal position.
2. Record he reading of the spring balance and mark it as
3. Measure the distance of P1 and the spring balance from the axis of rotation. Mark it as
L1 and L2, respectively.
4. Measure the angle of inclination, , of the spring balance with the beam.
5. Using the second condition of equilibrium, compute the force F exerted by the spring
balance on the beam to keep it in equilibrium.
6. Repeat procedures 1-6 for trial 2. Only this time, the spring balance will be placed at
the right side of the beam as shown in Figure 6.

C. Determining the Weight of the Beam

1. Use the second hole in the beam as the axis of rotation so that the center of gravity of
the beam does not pass through the new axis of rotation.
2. Place W1 = 50g weight on P1. Adjust its location so that the system will be in
equilibrium, as shown in Figure 7.

3. Measure the distance of P1 and WB from the axis of rotation. Mark it as L1 and L2,
4. Compute the weight of the beam, WB.
5. Repeat procedures 1-4 for trials 2 and 3. Use W1 = 60g and 70g weights for trials 2 and
3, respectively.

Results and Discussion

Experiment 204 is about torque and the 2nd equilibrium condition, but this equilibrium is in
rotational motion. Equilibrium in rotational motion is exhibited when a force that influences rotary
motion, torque, is zero. It means that if more or less torque is applied, the ability of a body to rotate
along its fixed point is also increased or decreased, respectively. In here, we used an apparatus
called a model balance with two weight pans to carry different loads as forces brought at different
distances from the center. We can say that we achieved static equilibrium if those different radial
distances when the beam is balanced and perpendicular with the scales stand. Also, it is helpful to
use the needle to accurately determine the beams center of gravity. Different distances were tested
in 3 trials.

Answers to Guide Questions

1. Can two unequal weights be balanced in the model balance? How should the different
weights be positioned in the model balance to achieve equilibrium?

Two different weights can be balanced if we place the heavier one nearer the axis of rotation
and the lighter one on the farther edge of the beam to compensate for the net torque upon the

2. In Part B of the experiment, how does the angle of the spring balance with the beam affect
its reading? Does the angle affect the torque needed to balance the beam? Explain briefly.

The angle of the spring balance can affect the reading because as angle changes, the
components of the force change as inclination and other internal/external forces play a part
in making changes in the measurement. Angle will not affect torque because we are only
looking for a static equilibrium state. We are only interested in determining the forces
needed to keep the system balanced

3. In Part C of the experiment, is the torque due to the beams weight constant for the three
trials? How can the torque due to the weight be changed?

The torque due to the beams weight is constant. Our net torque influenced by weight can be
changed by picking a new axis of rotation or fulcrum. Torque will change due to principles
of moments of inertia but the torque due to weight is constant.

The 2nd condition of equilibrium requires the systems net torque to be zero. Note that this
condition equilibrium is static, so therefore it must be at rest. Hence, applying different weights at
different radial distances must be balanced. Balanced forces are either in static or dynamic
When we apply different weights at different distaces at a varying position of the fulcrum may not
be intuitive, but this experiment proves that application of different amounts of torque at varying
points can also not be of same distances from the center to achieve equilibrium. We can also say
that torque depends a great deal with the length of the lever arm. Say that if we apply same amount
of mass to a lever arm but in a different distance from the center (generally speaking, the fulcrum),
the one that is farther from the center exhibits a greater amount of torque. The closer it is to the
fulcrum or center, the less torque it gives. Torque is defined as a force that influences rotary motion.
Linear force and torque are correlated with translational and rotational equilibrium. Translational
equilibrium is achieved when static or dynamic linear forces balance out or at constant speeds.
Rotational equilibrium is achieved when T = 0 or T= k. Torque is the force that influences or
accelerates a particle to move on a rotary manner in a centripetal path.

Possible sources of error are as follows: Using the balance on an unlevelled platform, inaccurate
measurement of lengths, incorrect use of the spring balance(using a poorly calibrated spring
balance), mismatched units and error in calculation (syntax errors, wrong formulas, petty
algebraic errors), and not following the assigned weights per trial.

Reference from a book:
[1] Halliday, D., Resnick, R., & Walker, J. (2014). Principles of Physics 10 th ed. Hoboken, NJ:
Reference from a website:
[2] Information from
[3] Information from
[5] Information from
[6] Information from

Table 1: Determining the Weight of Pans
Actual value of pan 1, P1 = 24.8g
Actual value of pan 2, P2 = 24.8g

Trial 1:
W1 = 10.0g L1 = 12.5cm L3 = 21.6cm
W2 = 5.0g L2 = 17.5cm L4 = 17.5cm

| |
x 100
(P1 + 10) (12.5) = P2 (17.5) % diff (P1) = 24.8+24.56 = 1.21%

| |
x 100
12.5P1 + 177 = 17.5P2 % diff (P2) = 24.8+24.69 = 0.69%
By elimination:
P1 = 23.35g P2 = 23.82g
Average weight of pan 1, P1 = 24.56g
Average weight of pan 2, P2 = 24.69g

Table 2: Determining the Force needed to be in Equilibrium

Trial 1:
P1 = 24.56g = 50
W1 + P1 = 74.56g
Fmeasured = 32g
L1 = 25cm, L2 = 7.5cm
(74.5 6 g ) (25 cm)
F= = 32.57g
(7.5 cm)sin50

| |
32. 5 732 . 0
x 100
% diff = 32 .5 7+32.0 = 1.7655%

Table 3: Determining the Weight of the Beam

Trial 1:
P1 = 24.56g
W1 + P1 = 50g + 24.56g
(74.86 g ) ( 13.6)
Wb = = 136.7g
Measured Wb = 135.6g

| |
x 100
% diff = 136.7+135.6 = 0.6515%