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You are on page 1of 2

Draw a vector diagram to show that the acceleration of a particle moving with

uniform speed in a circle is directed toward the center of the circle.

The velocity vector is tangential to the circular path; as the object moves, the

direction of the displacement vector changes, but not its magnitude.

v2

v1

magnitude; since circular motion results in constant changes in direction, all

objects undergoing circular motion are accelerating.

Acceleration is directed toward the center of rotation. To keep an object on a

circular path, a force must act on it to prevent it from flying off on a tangent.

Whatever the cause of the force making an object move on a circular path, it is

referred to as the centripetal force because it tries to pull the object toward the

center.

The acceleration towards the center is due to the centripetal force, so it is referred

to as the centripetal acceleration.

ac

mg

ac = v2 / R

1. Gravitational force (acting on the moon);

A pendulum bob swings round on a circle at a steady speed.

Relevant forces include weight (mg) and tension (T) in the string

And W and T can be resolved into x and y components.

y: Tcos = mg

x: Tsin = ma = m(v2/R)

W

Using the relation tan = sin / cos, the equations can be combined

to give:

tan = v2 / gR

2. Friction (acting sideways on the tires of a car turning a corner).

On a flat track, centripetal force is provided by friction

between the tires and track.

R

(to move along a circle of larger radius).

On a normal banked road, the centripetal force can be

provided by the normal reaction force, and the vectors

subsequently resolved.

f

mg

1. A car goes around a flat, circular track of radius 200 m at a constant speed of

30 m s-1. What is its acceleration? (4.5 m s-2)

2. (HL Only) If the mass of the car in the preceding question is 1000 kg, what

frictional force is required to provide the acceleration? If the coefficient of

static friction s is 0.8, what is the maximum speed at which the car can circle

the track? (4500 N; 39.6 m s-1)

3. A centrifuge spins a 10 g sample at a radius of 0.05 m at 60 000 revolutions

per minute (rpm). What force must the centrifuge exert on the sample? What

is the mass of a sample at rest with a weight equal to this force? (19 700 N;

2010 kg)

4. A curve of radius 900 m is banked, so no friction is required at a speed of 30

m s-1. What is the banking angle? (6)

5. A curved track has a radius of 336 m and is banked at 35. At what speed is

the frictional force zero?

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