Stability of Generic Equilibria of the 2n Dimensional Free Rigid Body Using the Energy-Casimir Method
Committee ChairFlaschka, Hermann
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe rigid body has been one of the most noteworthy applications of Newtonian mechanics. Applying the principles of classical mechanics to the rigid body is by no means routine. The equations of motion, though discovered two hundred and fifty years ago by Euler, have remained quite elusive since their introduction. Understanding the rigid body has required the applications of concepts from integrable systems, algebraic geometry, Lie groups, representation theory, and symplectic geometry to name a few. Moreover, several important developments in these fields have in fact originated with the study of the rigid body and subsequently have grown into general theories with much wider applications.In this work, we study the stability of equilibria of non-degenerate orbits of the generalized rigid body. The energy-Casimir method introduced by V.I. Arnold in 1966 allows us to prove stability of certain non-degenerate equilibria of systems on Lie groups. Applied to the three dimensional rigid body, it recovers the classical Euler stability theorem : rotations around the longest and shortest principal moments of inertia are stable equilibria. This method has not been applied to the analysis of rigid body dynamics beyond dimension n = 3. Furthermore, no conditions for the stability of equilibria are known at all beyond n = 4, in which case the conditions are not of the elegant longest/shortest type .Utilizing the rich geometric structures of the symmetry group G = SO(2n), we obtain stability results for generic equilibria of the even dimensional free rigid body. After obtaining a general expression for the generic equilibria, we apply the energy-Casimir method and find that indeed the classical longest/shortest conditions on the entries of the inertia matrix are suffcient to prove stability of generic equilibria for the generalized rigid body in even dimensions.