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Homework Help: (Centripetal Force) Why is this not correct?

  1. Oct 25, 2014 #1
    There is a banked curve problem asking for the correct angle to keep the car on the road:


    My teacher said the following equation must be used to find normal force:

    F(normal) = F(gravity)/cosθ

    Why is it, that you cannot find the x-component of the normal force, by finding normal force with

    F(gravity)cosθ = F(normal)

    and then using sinθ to find the x-component?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2014 #2
    The equation your teacher gave you is correct, in the situation you are describing (trying to find the "banking angle") the normal force will be greater (or perhaps equal to) the force due to gravity, so your equation is incorrect...
  4. Oct 25, 2014 #3
    Now it makes sense, normal force is greater than the cos of geavity. Thanks!
  5. Oct 25, 2014 #4
    Note that they would be equal if:
    [itex] \cos(\theta) = 1 [/itex]
    ie, the surface was flat...
  6. Oct 25, 2014 #5


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    Yes, but that only demonstrates your equation is wrong, it doesn't explain why it is wrong.
    Your equation is presumably obtained by resolving forces normal to the plane, but the resultant (the centripetal force) has a component in that direction, so the full equation would be ##N+F_c \sin(\theta) = mg \cos(\theta)##.
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