MadSci Network: Physics

Re: is it centrifugal force or centripedal force that does not exist?

Area: Physics
Posted By: Dennis Windrim, ,Edmonton Public Schools
Date: Sat Sep 13 18:26:58 1997
Area of science: Physics
ID: 872601506.Ph
Centripetal force exists, without a doubt, but you'll still get an argument 
about the reality of centrifugal force. To set things up, consider this: 
you are sitting in a stationary vehicle, which then accelerates rapidly. 
You feel yourself pushed back into your seat. Was there a force which 
pushed you backward? No. Your body mass was merely displaying inertia in 
response to the forward force applied to the vehicle. "Centrifugal" force 
is the same thing, except that the vehicle is rotating, or following a 
curved path. Centripetal force is what holds the vehicle (or other body) in 
its path - it might be the elastic force provided by the rope tied to a 
whirling bucket, or the frictional force of the tires on the pavement of a 
curved racetrack. "Centrifugal" force is what the water, or the passengers, 
feel as the straight line they would be travelling in in the absence of 
other forces (imagine, for instance, the path  each would travel if the 
rope broke or the car skidded) is counteracted by the walls of the 
container in which they are riding. As the force of inertia tries to keep 
us travelling in a straight line, the walls of the container push on us to 
force us to continue in the curved path to which the centripetal force 
constrains it. The centrifugal force is most emphatically not, as "common 
sense" has it, a force which pushes us out from the center. The centrifugal 
force is our perception of the battle between centripetal force and the 
force of inertia, and is equal in magnitude but opposite in direction to 
the centripetal force.

Current Queue | Current Queue for Physics | Physics archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Physics.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network
© 1997, Washington University Medical School

Page generated by MODERATOR_1.2b: Tools for Ask-An-Expert websites.
© 1997 Enigma Engines for a Better Universe: We are forever combustible, ever compatible.