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Uniform Circular Motion

What is uniform circular motion? When a particle moves on a circular path with a constant speed (not velocity), then its motion is known as uniform circular motion. The magnitude of the velocity remains the same throughout the motion, thats why we say with a constant speed, but the direction of the velocity continuously changes. This means that the velocity also changes continuously giving rise to an acceleration which is directed towards the center of the circular path of motion.

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The linear speed always acts tangentially to the position of the particle in each position; the linear velocity is perpendicular to the radius vector. Examples of Uniform Circular Motion 1. Revolution of planets around the Sun 2. Rotating fly wheel 3. Electrons orbiting the nucleus 4. Moon orbiting the Earth Relationship between arc length, radius and angular displacement Consider a particle of mass M moving along a circle of radius r. Let the initial position of the particle be P and the final position Q. The distance travelled from P to Q is the arc length s and the change in angle in moving from P to Q is . Using these symbols we can form an expression as follows,

Angular Velocity () Angular velocity is the rate of change of angular displacement.

Linear Speed This is the speed at which the particle moves along the circular path and is also defined as the rate o change of distance along the circular path.

Relationship between angular velocity and linear speed Considering that the arc length covered by a particle moving along a circular path is s and that the radius of this path is r, we can use to form an expression between angular velocity and linear speed.

If we consider one revolution around a circular path, i.e. 2c, to take T seconds, then T will be the period of oscillation and an expression can be formed as follows.

Centripetal Acceleration (a) The speed of a particle performing uniform circular motion will have a constantly changing velocity due to the continuous change in direction of the particle. A constant change in velocity will result in constant acceleration always directed towards the centre of the circular path. This acceleration is called centripetal acceleration.

Obtaining an expression for centripetal acceleration Consider a particle performing uniform circular motion.

Centripetal Force From Newtons 2nd law of motion, we know that if a mass is accelerating in a particular direction, its cause must arise from a resultant force acting on that mass. Similarly, the centripetal acceleration of a body gives rise to a force which is also directed towards the centre of oscillation called centripetal force.

Centrifugal Reaction According to Newtons 3rd law of motion, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The equal and opposite reaction to centripetal force is called centrifugal reaction. Centrifugal reaction is a pseudo force. This means the force does not actually exist, it appears to exist because of the acceleration of the rotating body.