Howe, Carl E. Formerly, Physics and Astronomy Department, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
Stephenson, R. J. Formerly, Department of Physics, Wooster College, Wooster, Ohio.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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A fictitious or pseudo outward force on a particle rotating about an axis which by Newton's third law is equal and opposite to the centripetal force. Like all such action-reaction pairs of forces, they are equal and opposite but do not act on the same body and so do not cancel each other. Consider a mass M tied by a string of length R to a pin at the center of a smooth horizontal table and whirling around the pin with an angular velocity of ω radians per second. The mass rotates in a circular path because of the centripetal force, Fc=Mω2 R, exerted on it by the string. The reaction force exerted by the rotating mass M, the so-called centrifugal force, is Mω2 R in a direction away from the center of rotation. See also: Centripetal force
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