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Central Forces

Newtons first law of motion states that a body will continue to move at a constant
velocity in a straight line unless it is acted on by a force. If a force is applied to cause a net force
on the object, the object will undergo an acceleration. The direction of the acceleration is in the
direction of the net force and inversely dependent on the mass of the object. If a body is
subjected to a net force which causes it to move in a horizontal circle at constant speed, the object
will have an acceleration. The direction of the acceleration can be shown to act toward the center
of the circle.
The magnitude of the force necessary to cause uniform circular motion of a mass, m,
moving with a velocity v, in a circle of radius R, is given by

F = mv2/R

(1)

If the body makes one complete revolution in T seconds, the velocity of the object is then
calculated as the distance traveled , 2R, divided by time T.

v = 2R/T

(2)

Plugging this value for v in the earlier equation we have

F = (m42R)/ T2(3)

Thetheorytellsusthatthecentralforcedependsonthemassoftheobject,theradiusofthe
circularpathandinverselyonthesquareoftheperiodofmotion.Inordertostudytheeffectof
eachofthesequantitiesontheforce,onlyoneofthemshouldbechangedatatime.Thenature
oftheequipmentdoesnotallowforchangingonlyoneitematatime.

Inthisexperimentyouwilldeterminethecentralforcebytwomethodsandasalwayscompare
yourresultsandthusfindthe%difference.
Onemethodwillbetospintheobjectandthenfromthetimeperiodandradiusfindthecentral
forcebyusingformula#(3).Thisisthedynamicmethod.
Theothermethodisthestaticmethod.Hereyouaddweightsontheweighthangerontheother
sideofthepulleysothatthespringandtheobjectispulledbythesameamountasintheearlier
case.Thetotalweightincludingtheweightofthehangeristhecentralforce.
PROCEDURE:
RemovetheObjectfromtheapparatusanddetermineitsmass.
m=______________Kg
Hangtheobjectfromthehorizontalshaftandadjustthemountingstringssothattheobjectjust
barelyclearstheendofthepointerA.Thiswillsimplifythetaskofascertainingthepositionof
theobjectasitmovesinthecircle.
Adjustthe strings andthe lever armsothat the object hangs directly overthepointer tip.
Measurethedistanceofthepointerfromtheshaft.ThiswillbeyourradiusofrotationR.
Attachthespringtotheobjectandverticalshaftasshowninthefigure.Findtheinitialorun
stretchedlength(L0 )ofthespring.Tiethisstringtotheobject,passitoverthepulleyandadd

sufficientweighttotheendtostretchthespringsothattheobjecthangsdirectlyoverthepointer
atA.Recordthestretchedlengthofthespring(L)andtheweight(W=mg)added.
L0=__________(m)_;L=_____________(m);LL0=L = ____________ (m)
Spring Constant (K) =

W/L =

____________________

Remove the hanging weights from the string and untie the string. BEING CAREFUL THAT
YOUR HEAD IS OUT OF THE WAY FOR THE ROTATING SYSTEM , use your thumb
and forefinger to spin the vertical shaft with the lever . With a bit of practice you should be able
to cause the shaft to rotate at constant speed (angular) so that the object rotates with a fixed
radius being just above the pointer A.
Once you have become proficient with spinning the system time 10 complete revolutions . Repeat
it 4 times and then calculate the average time. Now calculate the Time Period (T) i.e. time taken
for making one complete revolution by dividing the time measured by 10. NOTE: The radius
has to be constant when you are measuring the time.
Record your values in the table below.
Repeat the same procedure for 4 different sets by changing the object mass by adding a weights
of 20 gm to it.
Your experimentally determined value for the central force (Centrifugal/Centripetal) for each
set (i.e. one value of the object) is your hanging weights. How much weight you have to add on
the weighing pan to have the object at the same position.
Theoretically you calculate the central force by plugging the value of the object mass (m) and
Time period (T) in formula (3).

Object
Mass
(m)
(Kg)

Radius
of
Circle
(R)
(Meters
)

Weight
Time
Hanging
(W)
(Newtons)
(Central
force
Static)

Time

Time
for
10
revol
ution
s
(Sec)

Avera Time
ge
Period
Time (Sec)

Central
%
Force
Difference
(Dynamic
(Newtons)
use eqn. 3

Error
Analysis
(%age)

0.449
2

0.185

4.402

2.15

2.11

2.17

2.14

0.428

17.96

23.3

37.75

0.469
2

0.185

4.598

2.24

2.23

2.16

2.21

0.442

17.54

20.9

34.54

0.489
2

0.185

4.794

2.52

2.72

2.78

2.67

0.534

17.57

4.1

34.14

Using the same above values of time period for the 2nd part, we get

Weights (Kg)
1.14
1.170
1.180

Central Force
11.18
11.48
11.57

QUESTIONS ????
1. What is tangential acceleration?
differences between them.

What is Centripetal acceleration?

List atleast 2

2. Give two practical applications of central (centripetal/Centrifugal) forces.


3. Centrifuges are often used in diaries to separate cream from milk? How does it work?

Error Analysis Explanation:


The error which occurs is due to the following reasons:
1. The tension in the string applying a perpendicular force to direction of motion and net
force through which the body moves.

Conclusion
After conducting two experiments to find the centripetal force we can conclude that the
procedures adopted clearly support the equations presented earlier in this report. There were two
types of calculations. 1) Dynamic Method: Spin the object and then from the time period and

radius find the central force by using formula. 2) Static method: Adding weights on the weight
hanger on the other side of the pulley so that the spring and the object is pulled by the same
amount as in the earlier case. The total weight including the weight of the hanger is the central
force. Our purpose was to find centripetal force through each method and then compare them and
do error analysis to find out the difference b/w centripetal forces of the two. It is concluded that
as the mass starts to increase, the percentage error b/w the two measured centripetal forces starts
to decrease.