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Centripetal Force

# Centripetal Force

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06/12/2011

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Centripetal Force Description
The apparatus and set up used demonstrates the magnitude and direction of centripetal forces.
Possible Incorporated Topics
-

centripetal force-

spring force
Theory
An object moving in a circle at a constant speed is said to be undergoing "uniform circular motion". Though the speed of the object is not changing, the direction of motion is which impliesthe object is experiencing acceleration. To cause this acceleration, there must be a force on theobject. This force is directed toward the centre of the circle, so it is called a "centripetal force".The machine used in this demonstration (Fig.1) can be used to show some properties of centripetal force. It consists of a mass (M) hanging by a string from a bar on a rotating post (A).The vertical post (B) and the mass are joined by a spring (S), which is responsible for exertingthe centripetal force that keeps the mass moving in a circle. Watching the video, one can see notonly that the centripetal force is directed toward the centre of the circle, but also that it is possible to calculate the magnitude of the centripetal force using this set-up. As the mass rotatesfaster and faster, it stretches the spring and moves in a circle with a larger and larger radius. Oncethe circle is large enough, the mass strikes a flexible post (P). Since the spring is exerting thecentripetal force, the magnitude of the spring force is equal to the centripetal force. Calculatingthe spring force at this radius will therefore give the magnitude of the centripetal force.
Apparatus

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three metal rods; two that can interlock to form a "T" shape;-one rod must hold a mass and the other must have a spring connected to it (see A and Bin diagram)-

various hanging masses-

mass hanger -

spring (S)-

flexible metal rod (P)-

string which connects to mass M and the mass hanger -

pulley attached to a metal rod(see Fig. 1 for diagram of set-up).Fig.1: Set-up of apparatus.
Procedure
1.Refer to Fig.1 for set up. Make sure everything is securely attached since the apparatusmay end up being spun fairly quickly! (In the filmed demo. the entire apparatus isclamped to the table to eliminate wobbling).2.Spin the rotating post faster and faster until the mass, M, just touches the flexible vertical post (P). (This demonstrates the direction of centripetal motion)To calculate the magnitude of the centripetal force at the radius of the post:

3.Attach a string to the side of the mass facing the pulley and place it over the pulley.Attach a mass hanger to the other end of the string.4.Place hanging masses onto the mass hanger until the spring is stretched enough that themass, M, touches the vertical post.
5.
The spring force (and therefore the centripetal force) is then the total mass added to themass hanger times the acceleration due to gravity, i.e.: F
centripetal
= mg
SAFETY WARNINGS!
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Ensure the mass attached to post A is screwed on tight; otherwise it will fly off whenspinning.
Spinning Ball Description
The use of a simple apparatus demonstrates one aspect of Newton’s first law of motion: Anobject in motion will continue with the same speed and direction unless acted on by someexternal force.
Possible Incorporated Topics
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centripetal motion and forces
Theory

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