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Why do people use a centrifugal force

  1. Jul 18, 2015 #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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2015 #2


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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'.
  4. Jul 20, 2015 #3


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    This xkcd comes to mind:

  5. Jul 21, 2015 #4


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    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.

  6. Jul 21, 2015 #5


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    Ugh. The despicable engineers and their physics-defying machines. How do these even work?!
  7. Jul 21, 2015 #6


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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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