Introduction: Have you ever wondered why a force so powerful as centrifugal force is considered a “fictitious force”? Centrifugal force is the force that acts outwardly in a rotating frame of reference and is responsible for objects to move away from the center of rotation.
This concept has been around since 1644, when the Dutch scientist Christian Huygens first described it, and has been studied ever since. In this article, we will explore why centrifugal force in a rotating frame is called a “fictitious force” despite its strength and power. We will also look at numerical evidence to help explain the concept, such as the fact that centrifugal force increases with the speed of rotation and the size of the rotating object.
So continue to read, to truly understand why centrifugal force in a rotating frame is called a “fictitious force”!
What is Centrifugal Force in a Rotating Frame?Centrifugal force is a type of fictitious force that only exists in a rotating reference frame. It is the outward force generated by rotating objects, such as a spinning top, a merry-go-round, or a car rounding a corner.
As an object rotates, the centrifugal force pulls away from the central axis of rotation and results in an acceleration of the object as it moves outward. This outward force can be felt by passengers in an accelerating car and is often referred to as “cornering force”.
Why is Centrifugal Force in a Rotating Frame Called a “Fictitious Force”?Centrifugal force is referred to as a “fictitious force” because it does not exist in an inertial reference frame. That is, it does not exist in a frame that is not rotating or accelerating.
In an inertial reference frame, the objects in its environment are not subject to any force; thus, no centrifugal force can exist. In a rotating or accelerating frame, however, the centrifugal force is real and can be felt.
This outwardly directed force is generated by the centrifugal acceleration of objects in the reference frame, and is caused by the curvature of the rotating or accelerating motion. The curvature of the motion results in an outward pull of the object, resulting in the acceleration that can be felt in the form of centrifugal force.
Examples of Experiencing Centrifugal ForceOne example of experiencing centrifugal force is riding in a car that is taking a sharp turn. As the car makes the turn, its frame of reference (or the frame in which the car is rotating) is accelerating, resulting in a pull towards the far side of the turn. Since centrifugal force is directly proportional to this acceleration, the car and its passengers will experience the pull of a centrifugal force that increases as the cornering force increases.
Another example of this phenomenon is the experience of a roller coaster ride. As the coaster car navigates the curved tracks, passengers feel the force of centrifugal acceleration pushing them into the side of the car and away from the central axis of the turn. As the passenger moves along the curved track of the roller coaster, the force of centrifugal acceleration increases, and thus the feeling of the acceleration increases.