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# What is centripetal force?

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Centripetal force refers to the force that makes objects move in circular paths. Centripetal force makes an object or body follow a curved path; the direction of the body moves towards the center or fixed point of the circular path.

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Depending on the way the force is applied, the path of the body or object in motion may be a slight curve, full circle or cone-like shape. Common examples of centripetal force include the motion of the moon around Earth, swinging a ball on a rope and a race car zooming around a curve.

Centripetal forces are always perpendicular to the motion of the object over a period of time. This relationship causes the object to move along a curved path.

Objects moving in a circular fashion experience acceleration even if moving around the perimeter of the circular shape with constant speed. This acceleration always pushes towards the center of the circle. According to Newton's first law of motion, moving objects naturally want to continue moving in the same direction unless an unbalanced force acts upon the object to knock it off its path. Moving objects naturally travel in straight lines until an unbalanced force requires it to turn or change directions. As a result, unbalanced forces are needed for objects to travel in circles.

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## Related Questions

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Force multipliers, also known as simple machines, are devices that are able to provide greater output force than input force. Levers, pulleys, ramps, screws, axles and wedges are all force multipliers that operate using basic physical principles in order to increase output force and make work easier.

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Both Isaac Newton and Christiaan Huygens are credited with providing the first scientific and mathematical explanations of the long observed phenomenon of centripetal force. Huygens derived the mathematical formula describing centripetal force in 1659, while Newton defined the scientific concept in his Second Law of Thermodynamics in 1687.

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Equilibrant forces are those that act on a body at rest and counteract the force pushing or pulling the body in the opposite direction. Equilibrant forces establish equilibrium for an object and make the object motionless. Equilibrant forces act on virtually every object in the world that is not moving.