Centripetal Force Examples in Daily Life

Centripetal Force

When an object moves in a circular path or when an object is said to be exhibiting a curvilinear motion, a force is experienced by it that keeps it directed towards the center of the circle. This force is responsible to maintain the motion of the object in a circular path and is called centripetal force. The centripetal force acting on an object is always perpendicular to the displacement. The Centripetal Force is given as the product of mass and square of tangential velocity, divided by the radius. It is known as a real force. It depends on the mass of the object, the velocity with which the object is moving, and the radius of the circle in which the object is exhibiting curvilinear motion. In short, the centripetal force is a force that helps to maintain the circular motion of the objects, otherwise, they tend to follow a straight line motion.


1. Loop of Roller Coaster

Loops of a roller coaster are constructed in a teardrop shape that is commonly referred to as a clothoid. When the roller coaster moves inside the loop, there comes a point when the ride turns completely upside down. The people seated in the ride stay in their respective places due to the centripetal force in action.

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2. Orbiting Planets

The motion of the earth and the other planets around the sun is strictly curvilinear in nature. However, these celestial bodies do not leave their orbits and tend to keep revolving within their concerned paths to eternity. A significant amount of centripetal force that is directed towards the center gets developed and is responsible to bind the planets and other celestial bodies into their respective orbits. Here, a balance is maintained between the force of gravitation and the centripetal force. Hence, the resultant force acquires the name centripetal gravitational force.

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3. Twirling a Lasso

While performing twirling a lasso trick, the cowboy tends to move his hand in circulatory motion. This makes the rope completely taut and builds a considerable amount of tension force in it. The continuous motion of the fully stretched rope supplies the centripetal force to the loop that helps to maintain the rotatory motion. The centripetal force perfectly balances the gravitational force and prohibits the rope to fall down on the ground.

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4. Electrons Orbiting around Nucleus

The nucleus is located at the center of the atom and possesses a positive charge. The electrons revolving around the nucleus in their respective orbits are negatively charged. The difference in the polarity of the charges causes an electrostatic force to get developed between the positive nucleus and negative electrons. This electrostatic force is responsible to supply centripetal force, which is essential to sustain the revolution of the electrons around the nucleus.

An electron (charge e=1.6*10^-19C) has an orbital speed of 2.5*10^6 m/s when moving in a circular orbit of radius 0.53A around the nucleus of the atom. What is its contribution to the

5. Turning a Car 

While turning a vehicle along a sharp curve, centripetal acceleration is required. Hence, the centripetal force makes it possible to take an inward turn. The change in the direction of velocity is tangential to the curve. Therefore, the centripetal force acts along the radius of the circle because the centripetal force is always perpendicular to the displacement of the moving object.

That went a little wide... [crosspost from r/formula1] : gifs

6. Cream Separator

The cream separator is the most commonly used gadget in kitchens that make use of centripetal force. The cream enriched milk is poured into the container and container blades are set to rotational motion. The motion gets transferred to the fluid. The centripetal force causes the heavy cream particles to stay in the center of the container, while the lighter fluid is thrown on the outer sides. This causes the cream to get separated from the milk properly.

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7. Banked Roads

Banking is the process of raising the edges of the roads in order to ensure the safe turning of vehicles. It is mostly done in hilly areas to avoid accidents. While moving with speed around the curves, the tangential velocity changes in terms of direction. A force is felt that tends to drag the vehicle away from the road. To balance this force, a force comes into play that keeps the vehicle attracted towards the center. This force is known as centripetal force.

Banked Turn Cornering GIF - BankedTurn Cornering Curves - Discover & Share GIFs

8. Washing Machine Dryer

During the rinse cycle of the washing machine, the clothes are placed in the dryer drum. The dryer drum consists of a number of holes in it. When the machine is turned on, the drum is set to the rotation. This rotatory motion is supplied to the clothes, which causes them to swirl round in a circle. However, the water does not receive the same push and slides directly through the holes. This causes the clothes to dry.

Dryer GIFs | Tenor

9. Stone Attached to a String 

When a stone that is tied to a string is swirled around in a curved path, it rises in height. This happens due to the tension force possessed by the rope, the force of gravitation, and the centripetal force. The centripetal force is accountable to maintain the circular motion of the stone. In absence of centripetal force, the centrifugal force acting on the stone causes the stone to leave the circular path and disrupt the motion.

Betty Heidler's Hammer Throw GIF by tothetenthpower | Gfycat

10. Rotating a Bucket of Water

Suppose a bucket full of water, whose handle is tied to a rope, is subjected to an upside-down rotational motion. Due to the curvilinear motion of the bucket, the centripetal force comes into action. The water contained in the bucket does not fall on the ground even when the bucket is positioned upside down. This happens because the gravitational motion gets balanced by the centripetal force.

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