# Centripetal Acceleration Experiment

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I. INTRODUCTION When something is accelerating, the first picture that usually enters our minds is an object that is either speeding up or slowing down. While this may be the case, it is not always true. Acceleration, by definition, causes a change in velocity. As a vector quantity, velocity has both magnitude and direction, so it is not always true that the speed, the magnitude part, is the sole aspect that is changing. In fact, acceleration may come in one of three forms. It may lead to a change in the object’s speed, the object’s direction, or both. The first case, the one that is the easiest to visualize, is called linear acceleration. In this experiment, however, we investigated on the second case, called centripetal acceleration, which…show more content…
In other words, centripetal acceleration is what keeps objects in circular motion. Fittingly, the word “centripetal” is Greek for center-seeking, which represents the acceleration vector’s behavior of always pointing towards the center of the circular path. We see this type of motion everywhere – when the moon revolves around our planet, when we drive around a curve with a flat road or a banked road, or when we whirl a string with a ball at the end in a horizontal circle. Collectively, we call these as uniform circular motion. II. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND A. The Magnitude and Direction of Centripetal Acceleration It has been established that the direction of the centripetal acceleration is always towards the center of the circular path. This way the acceleration is entirely perpendicular to the velocity vector. (If it had a parallel component, then there would be a change in speed, which is no longer centripetal acceleration.) On the other hand, the magnitude can be derived as follows. Figure 1 depicts the initial and final vectors when an object traverses at constant speed around a circle with radius r. Extracting these vectors and applying the head to tail method of adding vectors, we see that we will form two similar