# Difference between Centripetal and Centrifugal Force

Centripetal and centrifugal forces are two different types of forces. Often, students need clarification while discussing these two forces. In this article, you will learn about centripetal and centrifugal forces and their differences.

## What is Force?

Force is a physical quantity that is a measure of the interaction between two objects. Force is a vector, meaning it has magnitude and direction. In physics, force is defined as the product of mass and acceleration, or F = ma.

Many forces can act on an object, including gravitational, electromagnetic, and mechanical forces. Forces can cause objects to accelerate, change direction, or change shape. The newton (N), which corresponds to the force which is needed to accelerate a mass of one kilogram at a pace of one meter per second squared, is the unit of force in the International System of Units (SI).

A centripetal force is a force that is applied to an object moving along a circular path and is directed toward the path's center. It is equivalent in size to the object's weight and keeps the object moving in a circular motion. Centripetal acceleration, or the acceleration of an object toward the center of a circular route, is caused by this force, which is always perpendicular to the object's velocity.

While, Centrifugal force, on the other hand, is an apparent force that is felt by an object moving in a circular path and is directed away from the center of the path. It is not a real force but a subjective sensation that an observer feels and results from the object's inertia. The magnitude of the centrifugal force is the same as the centripetal force, but it acts in the opposite direction.

## 1. Centripetal Force

In Physics, centripetal force is defined as a force directed toward the center of a circular path and required to keep an object moving. This force acts perpendicular to the object's velocity and is equal in magnitude to the object's weight. The centripetal force applied on an object is pointed in the direction of the center of the object's circular movement. The acceleration of the item toward the center is caused by this force, which also maintains the object's circular motion. It is equal in magnitude to the object's weight and always perpendicular to its velocity. The formula for centripetal force is

F = mv2/r

Where:

F is the centripetal force,

m is the mass of the object,

v is the velocity

### More Details about Centripetal Force

• Centripetal force is a force that acts on an object, which follows a circular path and only acts toward the center of the path. This force is necessary to keep the object moving in a circular path and to prevent it from moving in a straight line.
• Centripetal's force formula is given by equation F = mv2/r, where m is the object's mass, v is the object's velocity, and r is the radius of the circular path.
• A tension force, such as a Yoyo string or a tetherball's rope, often provides the centripetal force. It can also be provided by gravitational forces, such as planets orbiting the sun.
• Centripetal force can be experienced by people riding on amusement park rides, such as roller coasters or spinning rides. This force is so strong sometimes that dizziness or nausea is felt in some people.
• In physics, centripetal force is often discussed with a circular motion and uniform circular motion, which are types of motion wherein an object moves in a circular path at a constant speed. Understanding centripetal force is important in many fields, including engineering, astronomy, and transportation.

## 2. Centrifugal Force

Centrifugal force is a phenomenon that appears when an object moves in a circular path. The force always acts away from the path of an object, and its strength is proportional to the object's mass and the speed at which it moves.

When an object moves in a circle, it constantly changes direction, which means it is also constantly accelerating. As the force is directed away from the center of the path in the same way, its acceleration, called centrifugal acceleration, is also directed away from the path. The force that is responsible for this acceleration is called the centrifugal force.

The term "centrifugal force" is often used to describe the apparent force that acts on an object moving in a circle, which seems to push it away from the center. But it is not a force but an illusion created by the object's inertia. Inertia is an intrinsic property of matter, it makes an object tend to keep moving in a straight line, and when an object is moving in a circle, it creates the illusion that a force is pushing it outwards.

Thus, Centrifugal force is a pseudo-force caused by inertia; it is not real. It is the sensation that a body moving in circular path experiences, which appears to be acting away from the center of rotation. ### More Details about Centrifugal Forces

A centrifugal force is a "fictitious" force often used to describe the apparent force felt by an object moving in a circular path. It is important to note that a centrifugal force can also be termed as a pseudo or fake force as it is not felt usually but rather a result of an object's inertia as it moves in a circle. Here are a few points about centrifugal force:

• The strength of the centrifugal force depends on the object's mass and the speed at which it moves in a circular path. The greater the mass and the faster the speed, the stronger the centrifugal force will be.
• Centrifugal force is always directed away from the center of the circle that the object is moving in. So, the term "radial" force is also used to denote the force.
• When an object follows a circular path, the net force acting on it is not zero, as one might expect. Instead, there is a net force acting towards the center of the circle, known as centripetal force, balanced by the outward force of centrifugal.
• Centrifugal force can have significant effects on large-scale systems. For example, in the atmosphere, the Earth's rotation causes the atmosphere to bulge at the equator and flatten at the poles due to centrifugal force.
• Many practical applications use centrifugal force, for example, in centrifuges for separating denser materials from less dense ones, washing machines for spin drying clothes, and roller coasters to create thrills.
• It is also used in many industries such as aerospace, automotive, and even in power generation
• It is equal to centripetal force in magnitude but opposite in direction.

The formula for centrifugal force is as follows:

F = m * v2 / r, where m is the mass, v is the velocity, and r is the radial distance from the axis of rotation.

Where:

o F is the centrifugal force

o m is the mass of the object

o r is the distance of the object with the center of rotation

This equation is only an approximation and is followed when the object is in a uniform circular motion. Also, it is important to note that centrifugal force is not a true physical force but rather an "apparent" force resulting from the object moving in a circular path. This "apparent" force acts away from the center of rotation.

An alternate formula is given by Centrifugal Force = m * v2/r; here, v is the tangential velocity.

## Difference between Centripetal and Centrifugal Force

Centripetal force is a real force that acts toward the center of a circular path, while centrifugal force is a fictionary force that acts away from the center of a circular path.

Centripetal force is responsible for changing the direction of the object's velocity. A body's inertia in a circular motion produces centrifugal force, which is not a true force.

Centripetal force is required to maintain an object in a circular motion, while centrifugal force is not required for an object to continue moving in a circular path.

Centripetal force is dependent on the mass and velocity of the object, as well as the radius of the circular path. In contrast, centrifugal force is not real.

Centripetal force is a force acting on an object; centrifugal force is not an actual force but a sensation an observer feels in a rotating frame.

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