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Matthew Hutchins' Physics of A Merry-Go-Round
Acceleration
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Acceleration can be very confusing when it comes to uniform circular motion.  If you are traveling at a constant speed in a circle do you have acceleration?  Most people that have no knowledge of the proper definitions of acceleration and velocity would say there is no acceleration because there is no change in speed, but they would be wrong. 

 

Since acceleration is the defined as a change in velocity and velocity is composed of both magnitude and direction any change in direction will cause acceleration to be present.  So as you are spinning around the merry-go-round your body wants to fly off tangential due to inertia and your body also has acceleration inward towards the center.

 

Any easy way to show how acceleration is present is by drawing a vector diagram…

accelvector.gif

As you can see the final change in velocity and thus acceleration is inward to the center of the circle.
 
To determin the acceleration a simple modifyed acceleration formula is used...

acceleration.gif

Continue to THE F-WORD

İMatthew Hutchins 2004