Centripetal Force Examples: “Exploring Circular Motion for Science Enthusiasts”

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Wanna know what are some exclusive examples of centripetal force in daily life? If yes, then you are at the right place at the very right time. Because in this exclusive article, I am gonna explain how centripetal forces play a significant role in various aspects of our daily lives, from tornado formation to the creation of artificial gravity in space stations. So, what is centripetal force anyway?

Centripetal force (also known as center-seeking force) is a real force that acts toward the object’s center of rotation. These forces always act in the inward direction. Understanding the concept of centripetal forces and their practical applications can help us comprehend the world around us. So, without wasting any more time, let’s dive right in…!!!

Centripetal Force Examples: “Exploring Circular Motion for Science Enthusiasts”

  • Artificial Gravity in Space Stations
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Artificial Satellites
  • Tornado Formation
  • Ice Skater’s Spin
  • Washing Machine Drum

Artificial Gravity in Space Stations

Image Courtesy: Nerdist

The very first one on my list of examples of centripetal force in action is how artificial gravity is created in space stations. Just because there is no presence of gravity in space, astronauts experience weightlessness in space stations like the International Space Station (ISS).

Therefore, in order to create gravity, to be precise, create artificial gravity, we have to supply a force on an astronaut that can produce the same acceleration as the surface of the earth does. This centrifugal force helps in rotating the spacecraft, which in turn creates a centripetal force pushing the astronaut towards the walls of the station and simulating the sensation of gravity.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Image Courtesy: Radiology Affiliates Imaging

Centripetal forces do not play a direct role in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). However, the concept of centripetal force is related to the principle of how MRI works. When a powerful magnetic field is turned on, the MRI machine causes the proton in the body’s tissue to align with a rapidly rotating magnetic field due to the application of centripetal force.

Hence, allowing the MRI to gather data and generate precise images. Just to be clear the role of centripetal force is not directly involved in the generation of MRI signals. However, these forces allow atomic nuclei to undergo circular motion in the presence of a magnetic field.

Artificial Satellites

Image Courtesy: Universe Today

The satellites that we send into space heavily rely on centripetal forces to maintain their trajectory in their classified orbit. By doing that satellites are able to balance the gravitational pull of the Earth with the centripetal force required for a stable orbit.

In other words, one can say that the gravitational pull of Earth acts as a centripetal force that helps the satellite to be stable in its orbit around the Earth. Hence, enabling the satellites to provide weather forecasting, communication channels, navigation services, etc.

Tornado Formation

Image Courtesy: BBC Science Focus

Tornado formation is one of the most destructive phenomena characterized by swirling winds that destroy whatever comes in their path. Owing its existence to centripetal forces, tornadoes are rapidly rotating air columns that can harm or damage buildings and infrastructure in their path.

These centripetal forces are created due to the collision between hot and cold air resulting in an inward-directed pressure gradient centripetal force that keeps air in circulatory motion leading to its characteristics funnel shape.

Ice Skater’s Spin

Image Courtesy: IZEA

Yup, you heard it right…!!! Centripetal forces play a crucial role in an ice skater’s spin. When a skater performs a spin, their body rotates around a fixed axis, typically passing through the center of their body. To maintain this rotational motion, a centripetal force is required.

And, to do that, ice skaters pull their arms closer to their bodies. And, by doing that, skaters decrease their moment of inertia and increase their rotation speed, hence enabling them to maintain their spinning motion and control their movements.

Washing Machine Drum

Image Courtesy: The Mirror

Last but not least one on my list is how the washing machine’s drum work due to the generation of centripetal force. When you switch on the machine, the drum rotates to agitate and clean your clothes.

This rotating or circulatory motion creates a centripetal force that pulls the clothes toward the center of the machine, therefore, enhancing the effectiveness of the washing process. In fact, centripetal forces also help in effectively extracting water making your clothes dry rather than soaking wet.

Some Other Centripetal Force Examples in Daily Life

Apart from the above-mentioned ones, I am also mentioning a few here.

  • Carousel Rides
  • Circular Motion in Roller Coasters
  • Swing Ride at an Amusement Park
  • Motion of Planets
  • Cyclists on a Curved Path
  • DNA Replication
  • Spinning Ball on a String
  • Whirling Water in a Bucket
  • Carnival Swing Ride, etc.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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