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Homework Help: How to estimate tangential force through curve?

  1. Jul 26, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    A capsule suspended on flat rails enters a curve in a pipeline. It has guide wheels on vertical axles to keep the main wheels on-track. As it enters the bend the front guide wheel impacts the side of a rail to steer the bogie. What is the force of this impact? Essentially, what force is required to change the direction of a moving body by x degrees (Newton basics)?

    2. Relevant equations

    Tangential acceleration = dv/dt

    Centripetal acceleration = m*v^2/r

    F = ma

    3. The attempt at a solution

    Is the centripetal force the only relevant component? If so I can calculate this. If it is the sum of centripetal and tangential then I am stuck, for I do not know how to estimate the tangential load (I do not know what the change in velocity will be over time). I know the capsule forward velocity, mass, and the radius of curvature (for the curve it is to traverse).

    Thanks for any help. I know this is very basic physics, and confess I should know the answer!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2012 #2
    The force would be equal to the centripetal acceleration*mass. If you are given the radius of curvature, then use the equation for centripetal acceleration*mass.

    F = mv^2/R
  4. Jul 26, 2012 #3
    Thanks. I was resigned to just using the centripetal formula despite reading elsewhere that there are two force components: tangential and centripetal.
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