Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Negative tension

  1. Oct 22, 2011 #1
    Is there anything such as negative tension?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The first thing that came to mind is a spring. Let's say you have a condensed spring. There is tension; it will expand if allowed. I was thinking that maybe during expansion there would be something that could be called negative tension. However, as soon as the spring reaches its natural equilibrium length, and proceeds to expand beyond that due to momentum, there will be something I think could be characterized as tension pulling the spring back to its equilibrium length.

    I hope I don't get an infraction for conjecture, but I thought this might help.

  4. Oct 22, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I guess compression could be thought of as "negative tension", and could be exhibited by springs or relatively stiff objects. But there would never be negative tension in a rope or string, since it would simply go slack and exert zero force.
  5. Oct 22, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Isn't compression a form of tension since there are atoms out of equilibrium - or is that not part of the definition of tension?

  6. Oct 22, 2011 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Wouldn't tension be an absolute value? i.e. any stress deviating from zero, regardless of sign?
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Negative tension
  1. Negative voltage (Replies: 2)

  2. Negative Energy? (Replies: 6)