elasticity, the ability of a body to resist a distorting influence or stress and to return to its original size and shape when the stress is removed. All solids are elastic for small enough deformations or strains, but if the stress exceeds a certain amount known as the elastic limit, a permanent deformation is produced. Both the resistance to stress and the elastic limit depend on the composition of the solid. Some different kinds of stresses are tension, compression, torsion, and shearing (see strength of materials). For each kind of stress and the corresponding strain there is a modulus, i.e., the ratio of the stress to the strain; the ratio of tensile stress to strain for a given material is called its Young's modulus. Hooke's law [for Robert Hooke] states that, within the elastic limit, strain is proportional to stress.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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