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Circular Motion Question

  1. Mar 4, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    This is just a conceptual question:
    Give an example of a situation in which an automobile driver can have a centripetal acceleration but no tangential acceleration.


    2. Relevant equations
    N/A


    3. The attempt at a solution
    I understand that centripetal acceleration occurs when there's a change in direction, but how can a driver change direction without having a velocity? I think it may have something to do with skidding, but then again, I might be totally off :confused:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2009 #2
    Think about the definition of velocity, being a vector. It has a magnitude and direction. Since centripetal and tangential acc'ns are at normals, you can have one without the other. A change in direction with no change in magnitude of velocity (speed) will give you a centripetal acc'n without a tangential one.
     
  4. Mar 4, 2009 #3
    So, would an example be if velocity stayed at a constant 5 m/s and the car turned?
     
  5. Mar 4, 2009 #4
    Yes that would be ok. In the example of a car, there will always be resistive forces i.e. friction/air resistance but if the driver accelerates enough to balance these, his speed will stay constant. If he turns the car there will be a static friction force directed towards the centre of the turning circle, this supplies the centripetal force.
     
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