Small Vibrations About Equilibrium
A number of interesting mechanical systems have one or more essentially stable equilibrium configurations. When disturbed slightly, they vibrate about equilibrium in characteristic patterns called normal modes. This chapter presents the Lagrangian theory of these small vibrations for the simple case of systems with a finite number of degrees of freedom. The theory has wide application. For example, the normal mode oscillations of crystalline solids underlie both the overtone structure of a church bell and the definition of phonons in solid state physics. A similar formalism leads to photons as the quanta of modes of the electromagnetic field. This chapter defines equilibrium points in the configuration space of a mechanical system and discusses how to find them, along with small coordinates, normal modes, generalised eigenvalue problem, stability, initial conditions, energy of small vibrations, single mode excitations, and zero-frequency modes.
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