BS in Physics
At the point of supercritical bifurcation, a system with one stable state diverges into two separate stable states, with the original state no longer stable. The experiment reported here illustrates the supercritical bifurcation using a spring steel strip with a vertically applied load as the mechanism to be subjected to supercritical bifurcation. Increasing the load causes the strip to buckle to one side or another. We introduce a novel method for laterally perturbing the strip and creating an imperfection in the bifurcation. Our results show that beyond the point of bifurcation the system exhibits hysteresis and lays the groundwork for future studies.