Department of Pre-University Education, KarnatakaPUC Karnataka Science Class 11
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When a Body is Weighed on an Ordinary Balance We Demand that the Arum Should Be Horizontal If the Weights on the Two Pans Are Equal. - Physics

Short Note

When a body is weighed on an ordinary balance we demand that the arum should be horizontal if the weights on the two pans are equal. Suppose equal weights are put on the two pans, the arm is kept at an angle with the horizontal and released. Is the torque of the two weights about the middle point (point of support) zero? Is the total torque zero? If so, why does the arm rotate and finally become horizontal?

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When the balance is kept at an angle, there is a net extra torque given to one of its arm. When the extra torque is removed, the balance becomes torque free and sum of all the torque acting on it is zero.
But balance kept at an angle has got a greater potential energy compared to the balance kept horizontal. The potential energy acquired is due to the initial torque applied on it. This displaces the balance by an angle. As soon as the body is set free to rotate, the body tends to have the lowest potential energy. Thus, potential energy starts converting in to kinetic energy, but on the other side, kinetic energy converts into potential energy when the other arm of the balance is raised. This energy transformation oscillates the balance. But in this process, friction with the air and fulcrum dissipates energy converting into heat. Finally, the balance loses the energy and becomes horizontal, or attains equilibrium.

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HC Verma Class 11, 12 Concepts of Physics 1
Chapter 10 Rotational Mechanics
Short Answers | Q 17 | Page 192
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