The main difference between centripetal and centrifugal force is that centripetal force acts towards the center of rotation. And, centrifugal force acts away from the center of rotation. The other significant difference between them is that due to centripetal force, an object accelerates towards the center of rotation of the object.
On the other hand, due to centrifugal force, an object appears to accelerate away from the center of rotation of the object. In this exclusive article, I am gonna walk you through some of the most significant differences between them.
In fact, I will also talk about some of the similarities between the two. So without wasting any more time, let’s dive right in…!!!
Centripetal Force vs Centrifugal Force
|Centripetal force acts towards the center of rotation.
|Centrifugal force acts away from the center of rotation.
|These forces always act in the inward direction.
|These forces always act in the outward direction.
|These forces are required to keep objects moving in a circular path.
|These forces are not required to keep objects moving in a circular path.
|Centripetal forces are necessary for an object to overcome the tendency to move in a straight line.
|Centrifugal forces act as a counterweight to centripetal forces.
|These forces are required for circular motion.
|These forces are not required for circular motion.
|Centripetal forces are real forces.
|Centrifugal forces are apparent or pseudo forces.
|These forces can change the direction of motion but not the speed of the object in motion.
|These forces can change the direction as well as the speed/magnitude of the object in motion.
|The magnitude of the centripetal force depends on the mass, speed, and radius of curvature.
|The magnitude of the centrifugal force also depends on the mass, speed, and radius of curvature.
|Centripetal forces are required to change the direction of an object’s velocity.
|Centrifugal forces do not cause any change in the direction of an object’s velocity.
|Examples of centripetal force include Earth’s rotation, washing machines, etc.
|Examples of centrifugal force include Amusement Park Rides, Salad spinners, etc.
What are Centripetal Forces?
Centripetal forces are real forces that act toward the objects’ center of rotation. These forces always act in the inward direction. Unlike centrifugal forces, which is an apparent or pseudo force, centripetal force is a genuine force required to maintain a circular path.
As per Newton’s third law of motion, an object will continue to move in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force. Hence, for an object to move in a circular path, what it needs is a centripetal force that prevents an object from flying off in a straight line.
Properties of Centripetal Forces
Some of the properties of centripetal forces are as follows:
- Centripetal forces are real forces.
- They act towards the center of rotation.
- These forces are directed perpendicular to the object’s velocity.
- The magnitude of centripetal force increases as the velocity of the object increases.
- The radius of the circular path affects the magnitude of the centripetal force, etc.
Examples of Centripetal Force
Some examples of centripetal forces are as follows:
- Artificial Gravity in Space Stations
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Artificial Satellites
- Tornado Formation
- Ice Skater’s Spin
- Washing Machine Drum, etc.
What are Centrifugal Forces?
Centrifugal forces are apparent or pseudo forces that act away from the object’s center of rotation. These forces always act in the outward direction. Unlike centripetal forces, which is a real force, centrifugal force is not required to maintain a circular path.
In fact, these forces arise due to the inertia of an object moving in a circular path. Centrifugal force is often explained by considering the reference frame of the rotating object. In this frame of reference, the object appears to be at rest, and an observer within it perceives an outward force pushing them away from the center.
However, from an external, stationary frame of reference, there is no actual force acting outward. Instead, the object’s inertia wants to continue moving in a straight line, but the inward force (centripetal force) required for circular motion causes it to curve.
Properties of Centrifugal Force
Some of the properties of centrifugal force are as follows:
- Centrifugal forces are apparent or pseudo forces.
- These forces act in the outward direction.
- Centrifugal force is directly proportional to the square of the angular velocity.
- Centrifugal force is an accelerative force, etc.
Examples of Centrifugal Force
Some examples of centrifugal force are as follows:
- Amusement Park Rides
- Salad Spinners
- Separating Cream from Milk
- Disk Brakes in Vehicles
- Spin Art, etc.
Centripetal and Centrifugal Force Formula
Even though centripetal forces are regarded as center-seeking forces and centrifugal forces are regarded as center-fleeing forces, yet, they both are calculated using the same formula. Mathematically, they are calculated as:
F = mac = mv2/r
ac = Centripetal/Centrifugal acceleration
m = mass of the object
v = velocity of the object
r = radius of curvature
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