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Matthew Hutchins' Physics of A Merry-Go-Round
The F-Word
Linear Speed
Angular Speed
The F-Word
Sample Problems

Talk to any physicist or at least any one who has taken a physics class and try to say the word centrifugal force.  They will just laugh at you while thinking you are an idiot.


By breaking up the word into its roots yields…


Centri-                                                               Centri-


            Center                                                               Center


Fugal-                                                               Petal-


            Fleeing                                                              Seeking



            CENTER FLEEING                                             CENTER SEEKING




As explained earlier, the acceleration of an object while in uniform circular motion is always towards the center of the circle.  So of course the word centrifugal is utterly absurd and physically impossible.



The reason that people get the words confused is because when they are on a merry-go-round you can feel your body being “thrown” outward, but in reality the ride is not throwing your body outward, rather your body, due to inertia, wants to maintain going in a straight line but is forced to go in a circle.  The outward force you are feeling is not due to the circle pushing you out, but rather inertia (laziness)


An easy way to demonstrate this is to place a tennis-ball on a white board.  Carefully move the board in a straight line then cause it to make a sharp turn, in effect causing the ball to undergo centripetal motion.  The ball will continue to go in the straight line path and eventually role off the board.

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İMatthew Hutchins 2004