# Physics PracticaI Report Set 1_1 CentripetaI Force Page 0 of 12

Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)

Physics PracticaI Report Set 1_1 CentripetaI Force Page 1 of 12
Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
Aim
To measure an object's centripetal force by whirling it around a horizontal circle, then compare the result
with the theoretical value F
c
=mω
2
r, as to verify the equation for centripetal acceleration.

Apparatus
1 rubber bung
1 glass tube (15-20cm long)
4 screw nuts
1 wire hook
1 nylon string (1.5m)
1 paper marker
1 metre rule
1 stop watch
1 triple beam balance
1 scissors

Theory
For an object moving in a circle, the direction of motion is always changing, ie there must be an acceleration
(change of direction is also a change in velocity). By Newton's second of law of motion, there must be a
force directed to the centre of the circular motion in keeping the object in the circular path, the force is known
as the centripetal force.
Ìn this experiment, the rubber bung is attached to one end of the string to perform the circular motion. The
other end of the string is attached to the screw nuts to provide a tension, which is contributing to the
centripetal force provided to the bung for maintaining the circular motion. The rubber bung is subjected to
the constant centripetal force and is whirled in a fixed circular path of radius r with a constant angular
velocity ω. After measuring the period of the motion, the angular velocity is known and by applying the
formula T=mω
2
L (*). The average value of the tension is determined. But since
F
c
= Tsinθ ...... (1)
r = Lsinθ ...... (2)
By substituting (1) and (2) into (*) and , we have,
F
c
= mω
2
r
So by comparing the theoretical and the
experimental values of T=mω
2
L, we can also verify
F
c
= mω
2
r and the aim is accomplished.

Fig. 1 Top view and side view of the apparatus

Fig. 0 The Apparatus
Physics PracticaI Report Set 1_1 CentripetaI Force Page 2 of 12
Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
Procedures
(1) Assemble the set-up in the following procedures:
a) Attach the rubber bund to one end of the 1.5 m nylon thread.
b) Put a glass tube through the thread.
c) Put 4 screw nuts through the thread and install the wire hook to prevent the screw nuts from falling.
d) Measure the required distance L with a meter rule (L=the distance from the top of the rubber bung
to the edge of the glass tube). (Fig.2)
e) Put and fix, with adhesive tape, a paper marker 1 to 1.5 cm below the other end of the glass tube.
(2) Take readings by using the apparatus in the following procedures:
a) Student holding the set-up (Student A)
i) Hold the glass tube vertically and whirl the bung slowly above the head in a horizontal circle.
ii) Slowly increase the speed of the bung until the paper marker is 1 to 1.5 cm below the end of
the tube.
iii) Keep the angular velocity uniform and the circular path horizontal to the ground.
iv) Ask Student B to start counting.
v) Maintain the motion until 50 revolutions are made.
b) Student taking time measurement (Student B)
i) Stand at a fixed reference point and hold the stop-watch when student A starts.
ii) Watch and comment on the motion until the motion is steady.
iii) Listen to student A when it is ready to start.
iv) Shout the revolutions remaining - '50' when the bung is directly in front of you and start the
timer
v) Shout out '49', '48' .when the bung moves directly in front of you each time.
vi) Stop the timer at the instant you shout out '0'.
c) Repeat the routine twice for each length of the rope L.
d) Change the distance L by moving the paper marker and repeat procedure (2) for three more
e) Measuring masses
i) Check for zero error of the triple beam balance.
ii) Measure the mass of the rubber bung (m)
iii) Measure the mass of the hook and plastic ring (M
1
) and screw nuts (M
2
)

Fig. 2 the measurement of distances in set-up
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Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
ResuIts and Measurements
TabuIate the resuIts as foIIows:
Mass of hook and plastic ring M
1
= 0.0043 kg±0.00005kg
Mass of screw nuts M
2
= 0.0613 kg±0.00005kg
Mass of rubber bung m = 0.0155 kg±0.00005kg
Tension in the string = Mg
= (M
1
+M
2
)g
= (0.0043+0.0613)(9.8) N
= 0.64 N
ExperimentaI data:
Length of string L/m 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0
first trial (T
1
) 40.06 40.97 43.67 47.36 Time for 50 revolution T/s
second trial (T
2
) 38.15 42.28 44.56 45.82
mean 50T =(T
1
+T
2
)/2 39.11 41.63 44.12 46.59
Period T 0.782 0.833 0.882 0.932

8.033 7.546 7.121 6.743

2
L 0.700 0.706 0.707 0.705

Mean mω
2
L=(0.700+0.706+0.707+0.705)/4=0.71N

Physics PracticaI Report Set 1_1 CentripetaI Force Page 4 of 12
Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)

MathematicaI ManipuIation
Consider the free-body diagram (Fig.3),
Let F
c
be the centripetal force perceived by the rubber bung
T be the tension in the nylon thread
ω be the angular velocity of the rubber bung
θ be the angle between the nylon thread and the vertical glass tube
r be the radius of the circular path the bung is taking
L be the distance from the top of the rubber bung to the edge of the glass tube
Consider the horizontal motion,
F
c
= Tcos(90
o
-θ)=Tsinθ ... .(1)
Also, F
c
= mω
2
r ..(2)
Combining (1) and (2), we have
Tsinθ = mω
2
r ..(3)

Consider the length of the right-angled triangle, (Fig.4)
cos(90
o
-θ) = sinθ = r/L
r = Lsinθ . .(4)
Substituting (4) into (3),
Tsinθ = mω
2
(Lsinθ)
T = mω
2
L
By verifying that tension of the string is equal to the mean value of mω
2
L, we can also verify F
c
=mω
2
r, the
equation for centripetal acceleration

Fig. 3 Free body diagram of the rubber bung

Fig. 4 Illustration of L and r

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Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
Errors and Accuracy

The error involved in the experiment is quite large. The following is an overall list of the errors which might
have involved.
Errors Systematic Error Random Error
1 The triple-beam balance may have a non-noticeable zero error \
2 The triple-beam balance may not be accurate \
3 Human error in time measurement \
4 Friction exist between the glass tube and the nylon wire \
5 Friction exist if the paper marker is in contact with the glass tube \
6 The circular path of the rubber bung may not be horizontal to the
ground
\
7 The angular velocity of the rubber bung might not be even \
8 The glass tube might not be vertical to the ground \
9 The glass tube might be moving with the hand (not still) \
10 The string connecting the screw nuts might not be vertical to the
ground
\
11 The paper marker might move along the nylon thread without
being noticed
\
(1) The triple beam balance may have a non-noticeable zero error
No matter how precise we are in checking for zero error, there still exists error in the mass
determination because the marker still has a finite range (although the range is very small). Ìn our
experiments, the masses of the objects are usually small. Besides, there are 3 measurements of mass.
So the uncertainty still contributes much to the error in the masses m, M
1
and M
2
.

(2) The triple beam balance may not be accurate
Ìn an experiment requiring a high degree of mass-determination-accuracy, the triple-beam balance
might not give a reading which is accurate enough. This poses error to the masses m, M
1
and M
2
.

(3) Human error in time measurement
Due to reaction time of human, the actual period is smaller than calculated. This is because the
reaction time of the human adds to the actual time for 50 periods.

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Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
(4) Friction exist between the glass tube and the nylon wire
a) When the angular velocity is larger than \F
c
/mr (Fig.5)
Ìn this case, the rubber bung has a tendency to leave the centre, the friction acts in the opposite
direction of the tendency, ie directing away from the bung to hold the bung in original motion. Thus
the force acting on the rubber bung is T+f, which is larger than T.
b) When the angular velocity is smaller than \F
c
/mr (Fig.6)
Ìn this case, the rubber bung has a tendency to move to the centre, the friction acts in the opposite
direction of the tendency, ie directing to the rubber bung and hold the bung in original motion.
Thus the force acting on the rubber bung is T-f, which is smaller than T.

(5) Friction exists if the paper marker is in contact with the glass tube.
When the paper marker is in contact with the glass tube, the paper marker displaces upwards and
touch the edge of the tube, the rubber bung should be in a tendency to be centrifugal. This is a similar
case to 4a). The friction acting between the paper marker and the glass tube would be pointing
towards the screw nut. The force acting on the rubber bung is T+f.

Fig.5

Fig.6

Fig. 8
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Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
(6) The circular path of the rubber bung may not be horizontal to the ground

The weight mg of the rubber bung would contribute to the centripetal force of the circular motion. Also,
the magnitude and direction of the weight of the bung is changing with time.
a) When the rubber bung is at the lower side of the circular path
The weight of the rubber bung would point radially outwards from the centre of the incline circular
path. The force acting on the rubber bung is T-mgcosθ,
b) When the rubber bung is at the higher side of the circular path
The weight of the rubber bund would point radially inwards towards the centre of the incline
circular path. The force acting on the rubber bung is T+mgcosθ.
(7) The angular velocity of the rubber bung might not be even
Ìf the angular velocity w changes with time, according to the equation F
c
=mω
2
r, keeping F
c
and m
constant, r must change accordingly. So in the calculation, it is inaccurate to use the L, as L varies as
angular velocity ω changes.

Fig. 9 The circular path of the bung which is not horizontal to the ground

Fig. 10 the force diagram when the rubber
bung is at the lower side of the circular path

Fig. 11 the force diagram when the rubber
bung is at the higher side of the circular path
Physics PracticaI Report Set 1_1 CentripetaI Force Page 8 of 12
Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
(8) The glass tube might not be vertical to the ground
When the glass tube is inclined by an angle s to the vertical, the nylon thread would touch the glass
tube and would incur a friction which hinders the motion.

(9) The glass tube might be moving with the hand (not still)
This changes the center of the circular motion, and thus the circular path and would affect the
determination of one revolution.

(10) The string connecting the screw nuts might not be vertical to the ground
When the student is performing the experiment, the sets of screw nuts might swing from to and fro.
Consider the weight swinging to an angle of q with vertical. Tension in the string=(M
1
+M
2
)gcosθ. This
would deviate the experimental results as we substitute tension of the string to be the weight of screw
nuts

(11) The paper marker might move along the nylon thread without being noticed
This would alter the value of L and the L used in the calculation is not able to reflect the actual L used.

Fig.12 the deviation if the tube is inclined

Fig. 13
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Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
Improvements
Errors Ìmprovements and Precautions
2 The triple-beam balance may not be accurate Us a more accurate balance, such as a digital
balance
3 Human error in time measurement Only one person should count the no. of
revolutions and take time, as to minimize time lag
4 Friction exist between the glass tube and the
nylon wire
Use a smooth-edged glass tube to minimize
friction
5 Friction exist if the paper marker is in contact with
the glass tube
Avoid the paper marker to be in contact with the
glass tube
6 The circular path of the rubber bung may not be
horizontal to the ground
Keep the path to be horizontal
7 The angular velocity of the rubber bung might not
be even
Keep the angular velocity to be even
8 The glass tube might not be vertical to the ground Keep the glass tube be vertical to the ground
9 The glass tube might be moving with the hand
(not still)
Keep the hand still
10 The string connecting the screw nuts might not be
vertical to the ground
Keep the screw nuts vertical to the ground
11 The paper marker might move along the nylon
Fix the paper marker with adhesive tape
Other Precautions
a) Shout out the number of revolutions from '50', '49' . . to '0¨. Start the timer when shouting '50',
and stop the timer when shouting '0'.
b) Swirl up the rubber bung slowly up the glass tube
c) Avoid whirling the nylon thread around a sharp edge, as the thread would break up.
d) Keep well clear off the person whirling the rubber bung in the progress of the experiment
e) Nylon thread would easily lead to cut injuries and care should be taken to handle it.

Physics PracticaI Report Set 1_1 CentripetaI Force Page 10 of 12
Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
Discussion
(1) Ìt is impossible to keep the string horizontal to
the ground, it is observed that the bung would move
in a circular path with a smaller radius r than the
length of the string L. But the experimental result is
independent of the value a. The string dips a small
angle q due to the force of gravity acting on the bung.
The tension thus provides both the centripetal force
and a force to support the weight of the bung.
Consider the situation on the right,
Vertical component of the net force=0
Tsinα - mg = 0

α = 13.7
o

(2) Ìf the nylon thread is broken during the circular
motion, the rubber bung would move in a projectile
motion (dotted path) to the ground, as it has an initial
horizontal velocity (the tangential velocity), and is
subjected to gravity.

Fig.14

Fig. 15
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Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
(3)

Consider the free body diagram of the rubber bung,
Tcosθ = (M
1
+M
2
)g .. (1)
F
c
= mω
2
r = Tsinθ
From (1):

The radius of the circle is dependent on the mass of the screw nuts, metal hook and the plastic ring and the
rubber bung.

(4) Error determination
Uncertainty in determination in M = 0.0656 kg ± 0.0001kg
Uncertainty in determination in m = 0.0155 kg ± 0.0005kg
Uncertainty in determination in L = 0.7 m ± 0.005 m
0.8 m ± 0.005 m
0.9 m ± 0.005 m
1.0 m ± 0.005 m
Uncertainty in determination in T = 0.782 s ± 0.005 s
0.833 s ± 0.005 s
0.882 s ± 0.005 s
0.932 s ± 0.005 s

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Chan Cheuk Lok 6B (1)
Percentage error incurred in the determination of mω
2
L = 0.0005/0.0155 + 2(0.005/0.782) + 0.005/0.7
(Set 1) = 5.2 %
Percentage error incurred in the determination of mω
2
L = 0.0005/0.0155 + 2(0.005/0.833) + 0.005/0.8
(Set 2) = 5.1%
Percentage error incurred in the determination of mω
2
L = 0.0005/0.0155 + 2(0.005/0.882) + 0.005/0.9
(Set 3) = 4.9 %
Percentage error incurred in the determination of mω
2
L = 0.0005/0.0155 + 2(0.005/0.932) + 0.005/1.0
(Set 4) = 4.8 %

ConcIusion
The rubber bung's centripetal force is F
c
=mω
2
r, and the equation for centripetal acceleration is verified.

Reference
Further Physics, Book 1; Third Edition; Peter Fung, Peter Sun, Kenneth Young; p.91; Longman Publishing Limited