Centripetal force and rotation

In summary, when a ball is swung around attached to a string with a centripetal force, the ball also rotates due to torque caused by the string pulling on the attachment point. This rotation does not occur for satellites in orbit, as they are connected to an axle with frictionless bearings. However, tidal effects can cause some satellites, such as the moon, to become "tidally locked" to the Earth and rotate once per revolution. The rotation of the ball on the string is necessary to prevent the rope from twisting up.
  • #1
member 529879
I noticed that if you swing a ball around attached to a string with a centripetal force. The ball also rotates. What causes this rotation? Is there always rotation when there's a centripetal force? does an object orbiting the Earth always face the same way as it orbits?
 
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  • #2
The string normally attaches so that it is effectively tied to a point on the ball's surface. Naturally, the attachment point is pulled by the tension in the string. The side of the ball where the string comes out will be pulled to face the center of the circle. If the ball did not rotate to begin with, it would start to rotate because of this torque. So the ball rotates.

If the string were not tied to the surface of the ball but were connected to an axle through the ball's center which had some sort of magical frictionless bearings then no such torque would exist and no such rotation would need to start. This is essentially the situation for satellites in orbit. The effect of Earth's gravity is effectively applied on an orbitting object's center and is almost completely frictionless, so orbitting objects experience negligible net torque from gravity and are free to spin independently of their orbits.

As it turns out, gravity is not entirely frictionless if you consider tidal effects. So satellites such as the moon can become "tidally locked" to the Earth and rotate once per revolution, just like a ball on a string.
 
  • #3
For a ball on the end of a string which is not rotating once per "orbit" the string exerts a torque about the ball's center. This torque causes the rotation you mention and disappears once the ball is rotating at the correct speed.
 
  • #4
What others have said plus...

What do you mean by "rotate"? Rotate in which plane?

As you swing the ball around it will try to twist up the rope. If you hold the string in your hand you stop that end rotating so the ball must rotate once per revolution to stop the rope twisting up.

Edit: Ah I see Dale is referring to the same thing.
 
  • #5


The rotation of the ball in this scenario is caused by the conservation of angular momentum. As the ball is swung around, it experiences a force towards the center of the circle (centripetal force) which causes it to accelerate towards the center. This acceleration results in a change in direction of the ball's velocity, causing it to rotate around the center.

There is not always rotation when there is a centripetal force. For example, in the case of an object moving in a straight line with a constant speed, there is a centripetal force acting on it towards the center of the circle, but there is no rotation.

In the case of an object orbiting the Earth, it does not always face the same way as it orbits. This is due to the Earth's gravitational pull, which causes the object to constantly change its direction as it orbits. However, in the case of a synchronous orbit (where the object's orbital period matches the Earth's rotational period), the object will appear to be facing the same direction as it orbits due to its synchronized rotation with the Earth's rotation.
 

1. What is centripetal force?

Centripetal force is the inward force that keeps an object moving in a circular path. It is directed towards the center of the circle and is necessary for an object to maintain its circular motion.

2. How is centripetal force related to rotation?

Centripetal force is the result of rotation. When an object is rotating, it experiences a centripetal force that keeps it moving in a circular path. This force is necessary to overcome the object's tendency to move in a straight line and maintain its rotational motion.

3. What is the difference between centripetal force and centrifugal force?

Centripetal force is the inward force that keeps an object moving in a circular path, while centrifugal force is the outward force that an object experiences due to its inertia. Centrifugal force is a fictitious force that only appears when observing the motion from a rotating frame of reference.

4. How is centripetal force calculated?

The magnitude of centripetal force can be calculated using the formula Fc = mv^2/r, where m is the mass of the object, v is its velocity, and r is the radius of the circular path. The direction of the force is always towards the center of the circle.

5. What are some real-life examples of centripetal force?

Some examples of centripetal force in everyday life include a car turning around a corner, a satellite orbiting around the Earth, and a washing machine spinning clothes. The force is also present in amusement park rides such as a roller coaster or a spinning teacup ride.

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