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Angular Acceleration and Centripetal Force Forces in circular motion Note: Put your calculator into radians mode

before using circular motion equations! Remember Newton's First law? "If an object continues in a straight line at constant velocity, all forces acting on the object are balanced." Or another way of putting it... "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." Objects moving in circular motion clearly aren't going in a straight line so the forces can't be balanced. There is a resultant force. This is called the centripetal force. The centripetal force is always directed towards the centre of the circle (along the radius of the circle). (There is no such thing as centrifugal force, so don't mention it in your exams!) Angular acceleration and centripetal force If an object is moving with constant speed in circular motion, it is not going at constant velocity. That's because velocity is a vector. Although its magnitude remains the same, its direction varies continuously. Because its velocity is changing, we say it is accelerating. That sounds odd! You've got something that'saccelerating but not speeding up (or slowing down)! But it is experiencing an unbalanced (or resultant) force. Thats what makes it change direction. This resultant force, the centripetal force, causes the centripetal acceleration. It is always at 90° to the direction of movement of the object - and that's why the object doesn't speed up! If you think about a satellite orbiting the Earth, the force of gravity provides the centripetal force and acceleration. The satellite is basically falling towards the earth but does so at the same rate as the Earth curves away from it! Centripetal acceleration can be calculated using:

Where: a = centripetal acceleration (m/s2) v = velocity (m/s) r = radius of the circle (m) And from Newton's Second Law: F = ma, so

This is an equation for centripetal force. Example: A car of mass 750kg moves around a circular track of radius 50m with a speed of 10ms-1. What's the centripetal force on the car and which direction does it act in? Answer:

The direction of all centripetal forces is always towards the centre of the circle. Vertical circles When an object is moving in circles that are vertical, the weight of the object has to be taken into consideration.

T = Fc + W = Angles in Radians and Angular Speed versus Linear Speed Angles in radians We usually measure angles in degrees. The radius of a circle and its circumference are related by the equation.Example: An object of mass 2kg is attached to the end of a string length 1m and whirled in a vertical circle at a constant speed of 4ms-1. Find the tension in the string at the top and the bottom of the circle. At the top: The tension and weight are both acting down. 360° ≡ 2π radians and 180° ≡ π radians In fact.W = At the bottom: The tension acts up and the weight acts down. due to gravity. Circumference = 2πr So the factor that allows you to convert from circumference (distance travelled around the arc of the circle) to radius is 2π.W So. Centripetal force = tension + weight Fc = T + W So. just as 360° describes a whole circle. So in this way. T. 360° = 1 rotation But it's not the most convenient way to measure angles in circular motion. Here's an alternative: Radians. and weight.. Hence. T = Fc . 2π describes a whole circle. The only forces acting are the tension in the string. Assume gravity = 10 m/s2 Answer: The centripetal force is the resultant of all the other forces acting on the object. W. Centripetal force = tension .weight Fc = T . as long as you use angles in radians you can write this general equation: s = rθ Where: .. Hence.

Example: What angle in degrees has a car travelled around a circular track if the track has a radius of 100 m and the distance covered by the car is 470 m? Answer: Convert to degrees: Note: We had to turn the conversion factor upside down to convert from radians to degrees. we measure speed by looking at how much distance is covered each second. 90°. . You can do that in circular motion too. 135°. 330° Answer: 180° ≡ π radians.s = arc length covered r = radius of the circle θ = angle in radians Example: Convert the following angles from degrees into radians. Question: Angular speed In linear or straight-line motion. but it's often better to use angular speed. ω. So multiply any angle in degrees by to find the same angle in radians.

Angular speed measures the angle of a complete circle (measured in radians) covered per second. For instance. If you consider that the time taken for a complete rotation is the period. the period. . and you are travelling at a linear speed. v ms-1: The distance covered in 1 rotation = 2πr The time for one rotation = T. Where: θ = angle of rotation in radians t = time taken in seconds. Remembering that you can also write this as ω = 2πf The relationship between angular speed and linear speed If you are going round in a circle of radius. These equations allow you to relate angular and linear speed. then because 2π is the angle covered (in radians) when you do a complete circle. r. T.