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Centripetal Acceleration

Objects moving in a circle must experience acceleration and force perpendicular to their direction of travel.

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Defying Gravity

The ride that defies gravity

Credit: Jacob Moyer
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/57507222@N00/224836306/in/photolist-kSm13-E244j-eNktnR-9BgXs6-9cYpL1-8XXF5K-kefxY-9NCE48-6JSoGi-9e4H2Q-6tS9LA-6xVn1J-5SS2Pj-9Bgrne-5vueUa-946Fzt-BfNKk-6xVmpb-ao1Ep7-8jeHzw-3ptDJi-n2LUH-MTknJ-9pLeQN-4zda9-aZbACX-c2nY5y-ekY4bu-byfzAm-423QH7-8ofJyP-eJr9DB-72qPND-6ZrwZz-ceMNbq-8aqbAD-bBKsyT-d1rArL-gPtwW-9BJ9Ls-6bKek7-bqeyfU-9TpBX6-6WM7Nt-4x4JHD-5Rohcq-kJzct-fGEvr-4XbHpz-9Uq4Zb-9Uq4NY
License: CC BY-NC 3.0


The Rotor ride is an amusement park ride that seems to defy gravity. Riders stand against the wall of a rotating hollow cylinder that reaches a certain constant speed. The riders will stay “pinned” against the wall while the floor drops beneath their feet! Riders will insist that they are able to stay up in the air because of an outward force pushing them against the wall but in reality, the riders are actually pushed in an inward, or centripetal, force.

Creative Applications

  1. What is the force that prevents riders from slipping down the wall? (Hint: it's not normal force)
  2. What is the equation for this centripetal acceleration? (hint: use v and r)
  3. You are the designer of a Rotor ride for your amusement park.  What parameters might you need to consider before you build the Rotor ride? Remember: safety first!
  4. Many other popular rides in amusement parks use centripetal force. Can you think of any?


Practice Rotor Problem Solution:

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