# Simple centripetal acceleration question

• StephenD420
In summary, centripetal acceleration is the acceleration experienced by an object moving in a circular path, always directed towards the center of the circle. It is calculated using the formula a = v^2/r, and cannot be negative. Centripetal acceleration is directly related to the speed of the object and differs from tangential acceleration, which depends on the direction of the object's velocity.
StephenD420
Hello everyone

When do you use -v^2/R instead of positive v^2/R for the acceleration in circular motion?

Thanks.
Stephen

Remember that velocity and acceleration are vectors.

so whenever the velocity is pointing to the left?

Centripetal acceleration keeps changing its direction, so I don't think the sign has any significance there.

StephenD420 said:
When do you use -v^2/R instead of positive v^2/R for the acceleration in circular motion?
v^2/R gives you the magnitude of the acceleration; the direction is always towards the center.

## 1. What is centripetal acceleration?

Centripetal acceleration is the acceleration that an object experiences when it moves in a circular path. It is always directed towards the center of the circle and its magnitude is determined by the radius of the circle and the speed of the object.

## 2. How is centripetal acceleration calculated?

The formula for calculating centripetal acceleration is a = v^2/r, where a is the centripetal acceleration, v is the velocity of the object, and r is the radius of the circle.

## 3. Can centripetal acceleration be negative?

No, centripetal acceleration cannot be negative. It is always directed towards the center of the circle, so it will always have a positive magnitude.

## 4. Does centripetal acceleration affect the speed of an object?

Yes, centripetal acceleration is directly related to the speed of an object. As the speed of the object increases, so does the centripetal acceleration.

## 5. How does centripetal acceleration differ from tangential acceleration?

Centripetal acceleration is the acceleration that an object experiences when it moves in a circular path, while tangential acceleration is the acceleration that an object experiences in the direction of its velocity. Centripetal acceleration always points towards the center of the circle, while tangential acceleration is dependent on the direction of the velocity of the object.

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