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Toppling and Stability

Teacher/Instructor Matt Jones
Matt Jones

M.Ed., George Washington University
Dept. chair at a high school

Matt is currently the department chair at a high school in San Francisco. In his spare time, Matt enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids.

We use the words toppling and stability in our everyday world. Toppling means that an object will easily fall over while stabiliity means that an object can resist falling over.

Toppling and stability, you you know what those words mean right, toppling means something can very easily fall over. Stability means something resists falling over that it's very stable right? Well what makes some objects topple and some objects stable? Well an object will easily topple if its center of mass is lowered, if that the forces applied that lowers its center of mass it's more likely to topple, if an object, an object will be stable if its center of mass must be significantly raised in order to make it topple okay?

Let's just review, center of mass is the average positional mass so if I have a cone, if I have a cone on its base it's going to be about one quarter of the way up the cone right there is the center of mass. If I bound that cone on its, on the tip okay, I've got the center of mass right up here three quarters of the way to the top okay? So obviously this is more likely to topple than this, you can just look at that and intuitively see that but in terms of the, the Physics behind that, if we apply force here and move that center of gravity, if we move this just a little bit this way, let's say okay, the center of gravity is going to start to move over here so its center of gravity is going to be moving down okay, that's going to cause it to topple okay?

Conversely if I have a cone in this formation, and I apply force so that I want to topple let's say I move it in this type of a direction to make it topple okay so I'm trying to push trying to tip it over, the center of mass is actually going to be moving up and it's raising the center of mass so again gravity is going to want to keep this stable and gravity is going to want to force this to topple and it all has to do with the center of mass whether the center of mass is moving down or up and that what causes things to either be to more likely to topple or to be stable.