Why do people use a centrifugal force

  • #1
So I was doing a research paper on the differences of gravity at various places on the Earth, and I found a few sites and videos that tried to explain that a centrifugal force caused by the Earth's rotation was a cause for the disparity in gravitational acceleration at various places on the Earth.

Yet, in physics class, we are taught that in Centripetal motion, there is no such thing as a centrifugal force. So why do so many people believe that there is and post incorrect information online.

Don't they know that centrifugal force is a pseudo force only talked about to explain the apparent force that seems to push one outwards. For example, when we drive a car and we go around a curve we feel like we are being pushed outwards, but that is really just inertia and not a real force.

Am I the only that gets bothered by the lack of scientific accuracy by people who claim to be "scientists" explaining things that are wrong and thus spreading misinformation?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Bandersnatch
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Of course there is such thing as a centrifugal force. That it's an artefact of a rotating reference frame doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If you analyse a system from such a frame, then you have to include it. You have to include it, to make the description equivalent to that from an inertial reference frame.
The key word here is 'equivalent' - descriptions in both a rotating and a non-rotating reference frame are valid. One does not include fictitious forces, but it doesn't mean it's somehow 'fake'.
 
  • #3
e.bar.goum
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This xkcd comes to mind:

centrifugal_force.png
 
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  • #4
BobG
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Of course there is such thing as a centrifugal force. That it's an artefact of a rotating reference frame doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If you analyse a system from such a frame, then you have to include it. You have to include it, to make the description equivalent to that from an inertial reference frame.
The key word here is 'equivalent' - descriptions in both a rotating and a non-rotating reference frame are valid. One does not include fictitious forces, but it doesn't mean it's somehow 'fake'.

I know not what you talk about with this "centrifugal force" thingy, nor your "rotating reference frame" thingamajiggy.

Neither of those exist on a well designed merry go round.

http%3A%2F%2Flh6.ggpht.com%2Fabramsv%2FR8d7hQVx-5I%2FAAAAAAAAJrw%2F3kN9GbWcH_0%2Fpost-1203667633.jpg
 
  • #5
Bandersnatch
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a well designed merry go round.
Ugh. The despicable engineers and their physics-defying machines. How do these even work?!
 
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  • #6
russ_watters
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We do get this question fairly often. It is an unfortunate quirk of physics naming conventions. Similarly, "imaginary" numbers are real/exist and the "charm" quark does not speak in a British accent.
 
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