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To stretch or compress something you must exert a force on it at
either end.
Definitions:

Tensile Stress is the force per unit crosssectional area
exerted
on the ends. (Note the surface whose area we wish to measure is
perpendicular to the force. See Fig.9.1)
Figure 9.1:
Tensile Stress


Tensile Strain is the fractional change in length.

Young's Modulus ( Y ) is the ratio of tensile stress to
tensile
strain:
where F is the applied force, L_{O} is the original length of the
object, A
is the crosssectional area of the object, and L is the
change in the
length of the object. Notice that Y has S.I. units of N/m ^{2}.
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10/9/1997