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Introduction to the Dynamics of Uniform Circular Motion
Up to this point we have examined Newton's Laws as they apply to linear motion. In other words
we have examined how forces change the magnitude of the velocity of an object, but not how
forces affect an object's direction. Because velocity is a vector quantity, with both speed and
direction, when an object moves with uniform speed in a circular path, its velocity therefore
undergoes constant change, meaning it experiences acceleration. We can consequently analyze
uniform circular motion using Newton's Laws.
Centripetal Force
Centripetal force is the force that causes centripetal acceleration. By using Newton's Second Law
in conjunction with the equation for centripetal acceleration, we can easily generate an
expression for centripetal force.
F
c
=
ma
=
Remember also that force and acceleration will always point in the same direction. Centripetal
force therefore points toward the center of the circle.
There are many physical examples of centripetal force, and we cannot completely explore each
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This note was uploaded on 02/09/2012 for the course PHY PHY2053 taught by Professor Davidjudd during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.
 Fall '10
 DavidJudd
 Physics, Circular Motion, Force

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