Distinguish between centripetal and centrifugal force


Force is defined as the push or pull on an object with mass that causes it to change its velocity. Force is an external agent capable of changing the state of rest or motion of a particular body. It has a magnitude and a direction. The direction towards which the force is applied is known as the direction of the force and the application of force is the point where force is applied.

Centripetal Force

Centripetal force is defined as the component of force acting on an object in curvilinear motion which is directed toward the axis of rotation or centre of curvature.

  • The centripetal force is always directed perpendicular to the direction of the displacement of the object.
  • If an object accelerates according to the changes of velocity, then it can change either its speed or direction of motion.
  • Centripetal force is always radially inwards toward centre of the circular path.
  • Centripetal force is a real force.
  • The unit of centripetal force is Newton.

Examples of centripetal force

  • Planets orbiting around the Sun
  • Turning a car

Centrifugal force

Centrifugal force is defined as the force that arises from the body’s inertia and appears to act on a body that is moving in a circular path which is directed away from the centre around which the body is moving.

  • Centrifugal force unit is Newton.
  • The centrifugal force drives the object away from the centre.
  • It is a fictitious force.

Examples of Centrifugal force

  • A bike making a turn.
  • Weight of an object at the poles and on the equator.

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