Question
Thu March 12, 2015 By: Neelaksha Bhardwaj

Explain briefly the difference between Centripetal and Centifugal force with illustrated examples and brief definition.

Expert Reply
Romal Bhansali
Thu March 12, 2015

Centripetal Force

  • The force needed to make an object travel in a circular path is known as “centripetal force”.
  • This force is always directed towards the centre of circle at each point of its path.
  • Hence, for a body moving uniformly in a circular path, there must be a force to provide the centripetal force required for circular motion.

Examples:  

  • In an atom, an electron moves around the nucleus in a circular path for which the centripetal force is obtained from the electrostatic force of attraction on electron by the nucleus.
  • A planet moves around the sun in a nearly circular path for which the gravitational force of attraction on the planet by the sun provides the necessary centripetal force.
  • The moon moves around the earth in a circular path for which the gravitational force of attraction on the moon by the earth provides the centripetal force.

 

Centrifugal Force

  • The force acting on a body away from the centre of circular path is called the “centrifugal force”.
  • It is not a real force.
  • A force which really does not exist, but it is considered to describe a certain motion, is called fictitious force or virtual force.
  • Its magnitude is same as centripetal force. It is however not a reaction force of centripetal force, because both the forces acts on same body performing circular motion.

Examples:

  • A bucket filled with water is swirled around. The water does not spill out of it due to centrifugal force acting on it away from the centre.
  • When a bus takes a sudden left turn, the passengers traveling in it get a push towards the right. This push is the centrifugal force.
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