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Rotor rooter and artifical gravity

  1. Jul 13, 2003 #1
    [SOLVED] rotor rooter and artifical gravity

    There is a ride in the carnival called the Rotor Rooter in which people stand up with their backs against a curved wall. This wall starts to move swiftly, spinning in a circular motion and then the floor drops out and a person finds themselves not falling but rather attached to the wall behind them. The sensation of being on the ride is as if lying down.

    Then there is the so-called artificial gravity that is generated on space stations which, if I am not mistaken is a product of the rotation of the station.

    Is centrifugal force responsible for both the Rotor Rooter and the Space Stations artificial gravity? If a person began the Rotor Rooter ride without having their backs against the wall would they be snapped back once the ride began? Can someone please explain to the governing dynamics behind how centrifugal force operates in both these circumstances? In a space station does the gravity that is created through the rotation effect things that are suspended between the walls of the structure. If so how?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2003 #2
    Yes. They have contact to the floor, which transmits the centrifugal force.
    In vacuum, no. But if you have air in the station, it will take up the rotational motion, and so transmit the centrifugal force.
  4. Jul 13, 2003 #3


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    How are they suspended? If for example, you "hang a light bulb from the ceiling", it would appear to be pulled "down" (down being away from the center of rotation, of course).

    On the other hand, if you held a ball up and then released it, the instant you release it, the momentum it already has (moving circularly with your hand) causes it to move along the line of it's momentum vector: until it comes into contact with the wall and then resumes it circular motion. On a small "space station" that might be indistinguishable from the straight line a falling object would take. On a large space station, that path would appear to be a curve and would be attributed to "coriolis force".

    What's really happening, of course, is that a object in motion tends to move in a straight line. In order to force it to move in a circle you have to apply a force in toward the center of the circle (the centripetal force). The "equal and opposite" force we feel apply the central force is what we call centrifugal force.
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