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When an object is sitting stationary on a table the upward force from the table is exactly balancing the downward force of gravity on the object.

I always assumed that the force generated by the table was from elastic potential energy, as demonstrated, for example, when a human body is at rest on a trampoline: the trampoline surface will extend, and show more extension for a heavier person, so the surface of the trampoline extends until the upward force exactly balances gravity.

However, I have recently seen articles which say the force from the table is electrostatic. How does this work?

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Someone more knowledgeable could provide a better explanation, but I believe that the electrostatic forces described are by nature "elastic" in that they exabit a behavior of wanting to return to an equilibrium position when displaced by something set on them. The atoms can be thought of as balls separated by springs, where the springs are actually electrostatic field interactions between particle fields.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. That clarifies things for me. When I read about the electrostatic force there was no mention of the elastic effect, which made me wonder if I'd completely misunderstood the nature of the balancing force. $\endgroup$
    – simonc8
    Nov 4, 2021 at 18:17

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