For folks just joining in, the “ground state” is what the system looks like when it’s got the least possible energy. At least the least energy consistent with it being a system at all. For a spring problem that’s the one where the thing is at rest, at the center, not displaced at all.

In a more complicated system you can have an equilibrium that’s stable and that isn’t the ground state. That isn’t the case here, but I wonder if thinking about that didn’t make me avoid calling it a ground state.

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]]>(Why that’s worth a ha-ha to non mathematical readers: ‘Z’ is one of the symbols used to describe the integers. The letter comes from the German word for number, by way of famous imaginary mathematician Nicolas Bourbaki.)

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]]>Why don’t you call it a “ground state”?

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