Centrifugal Force

Centrifugal Force, in physics, the tendency of an object following a curved path to fly away from the center of curvature. Centrifugal force is not a true force; it is a form of inertia (the tendency of objects that are moving in a straight line to continue moving in a straight line). Centrifugal force is referred to as a force for convenienceā€”because it balances centripetal force, which is a true force. If a ball is swung on the end of a string, the string exerts centripetal force on the ball and causes it to follow a curved path. The ball is said to exert centrifugal force on the string, tending to break the string and fly off on a tangent.

The effects of centrifugal force can be controlled and even harnessed for useful purposes. For example, centrifugal force is used in centrifuges and in engine governors. Highway curves are banked (tilted) to prevent centrifugal force from forcing cars outward off the road.

When measured in pounds, centrifugal force is given by the formula wv2/gr

Where w is the weight of the object in pounds, v the velocity in feet per second, g the acceleration of gravity (32 feet per second per second), and r the radius of the circle in feet.