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Centripetal Force - Penny on a Hanger

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Here we are going to see how centripetal force acts on an object to move it in a circular path, and see that the centripetal force acts toward the center of the path. The object that we are going to move in a circular path is this penny, and we will apply the force with this hanger, that is diamond shape. I am going to balance the penny right on the end of the hanger. What I am going to do is swing it in a circle. I am going to go ahead and do this so you can see that it can be done. Pretty easy to get it started, but harder to bring it to a stop and keep it on the hanger. Let's see if I can do it.

So what we have seen here is the penny is forced to move in a circular path by the force of the hanger, which is directed toward the center of the path.

Let's take a look once more at the force that makes the penny move in a circular path. That force was supplied by the tip of the hanger, which is pushing up in this case and towards my finger, the center of the path. As the hanger moves the tip of the hanger is no longer pointed up, but pointed toward the center of the path, my finger. So that force always points toward the center of the path, and that is the force that keeps the penny moving in a circular motion.



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