Centripetal vs Centrifugal Force: Difference and Comparison

The centripetal and centrifugal forces are similar in pronunciation and are less or more related to the dame field. But these cannot be used interchangeably.

There is a difference between the centripetal and centrifugal forces. So to understand these concepts better, here are a few differences between them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Centripetal force is the inward force acting on an object moving in a circular path, keeping it in motion. In contrast, centrifugal force is the perceived outward force experienced by the object due to inertia.
  2. Centripetal force is a real force, while centrifugal force is a fictitious force that appears in a rotating frame of reference.
  3. A centripetal force acts toward the circle’s centre, while centrifugal forces away from the center in the rotating frame.

Centripetal vs Centrifugal Force

The difference between the centripetal and centrifugal force is that the direction of the centripetal force is from the object towards the centre, and on the other hand, in the case of the centrifugal force, the direction of force is from the centre towards the object. The centrifugal force acts in the opposite direction to that of the centripetal force.

Centripetal vs Centrifugal Force

This centripetal force has a fixed direction that is, this force works along the radius of the curvature, and it is from the object towards the centre of the curvature.

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There are many real-time examples of this force. For example, a satellite rotating in an orbit or a merry-go-round. Both of these are examples of centripetal force.

As per Newton’s law, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So as per this law, the centripetal force should have an opposite force. This led to the existence of the centrifugal force.

This centrifugal force is so-called a frictional force. This is not a real force; this is the inertia of the effect of the body moving.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCentripetal ForceCentrifugal Force
DefinitionThis is a force that has the capacity to make an object kept moving around in a circular path.This is the tendency of the particular object to fly away from the center.
DirectionThe force is along the circle’s radius and is directed from the objects to the center.The force is along the radius, and it is towards the object from the center
Defined byThis theory was first discovered and defined by Sir Isaac Newton This theory was first discovered and defined Christian Huygens  
StatusThis is a real force that affects the body moving and keeps the body moving in the circular pathThis is not a real force. This is the inertia of the effect of the body moving
Year of discovery16841659

What is Centripetal Force?

The theory of centripetal force was first discovered by Sir Isaac Newton in the year 1685. The definition of this force is that this is a force that has the capacity to make an object keep moving around in a circular path.

The centripetal force is observed in our normal lives also. 

The centripetal force has many formulas to derive. The formulas mainly comprise the mass of the object velocity of the object radius of curvature.

These values are required to calculate the magnitude of centripetal force. The centripetal force is a vector having both magnitude and direction.

This centripetal force has a fixed direction that is, this force works along the radius of the curvature, and it is from the object towards the centre of the curvature.

There are many real-time examples of this force. For example, a satellite rotating in an orbit or a merry-go-round. Both of these are examples of centripetal force.

Due to the existence of this force, the satellite or the horses of the merry-go-round move around a particular orbit.

This force is a real force that affects the body moving and keeps the body moving in a circular path. So this force has a magnitude as well as direction. 

What is Centrifugal Force?

Sir Christian Huygens first developed the theory of centrifugal force. This theory was developed in the year 1659. The theory of centrifugal force is actually the opposite force of the centripetal force.

The centripetal force is the Newtonian force in which the force on an object is towards the centre of the rotating object. The centrifugal force emerges due to the inertia of the rotating object.

As per Newton’s law, the centripetal force should have an opposite force. This led to the existence of the centrifugal force.

This centrifugal force can also be termed as a frictional force as it works in the opposite direction to that of centripetal force. This is not a real force; this is the inertia of the effect of the body moving.

This force tends to flee the object towards the outer field more than that of the orbit. For example, the graviton is a ride present in some amusement parks.

In this ride, the rider enjoys the feeling of fleeing outside the orbit. This is one of the examples of centrifugal force.

Main Differences Between Centripetal and Centrifugal Force

  1. Centripetal force is a force that has the capacity to make an object keep moving around in a circular path. In contrast to that, centrifugal force is the tendency of a particular object to fly away from the centre.
  2. The centripetal force is along the circle’s radius and is directed from the objects to the centre. On the other hand, the centrifugal force is along the radius and is towards the object from the centre.
  3. Centripetal force is a real force that affects the body moving and keeps the body moving in a circular path. In contrast, centrifugal force is not real; this is the inertia of the effect of the body moving.
  4. The centripetal force was discovered by Isaac Newton. On the other hand, the centrifugal force was discovered by Christian Huygens.  
  5. The centripetal force was discovered in the year 1684. On the other hand, centrifugal force was discovered in the year 1659.
References
  1. https://journals.aps.org/pre/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevE.72.026112
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/3f0f2cca36d71200dc8bd58429755b06/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=105379
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