Who doesn’t love a visit to the theme park? From the rides, to the games, and even the tasty sweet treats, theme parks offer a great amount of entertainment and fun for families and kids of all ages. Among the most enjoyable and exciting rides you can experience when you visit a theme park is the rollercoaster.
But despite the unrivalled enjoyment that roller coasters provide, lots of people are often afraid of them because they seem unsafe and perilous. How sure can you be that you won’t fall out of the ride once those loops and tight turns start twirling you through the air? Well, thanks to a little known concept called centripetal force, you won’t need to worry about falling out of your favorite ride.
Centripetal force is the force that acts towards the center of a circle that an object is moving along. That’s why when a roller coaster does a loop, your body doesn’t fall out of the seat but instead maintains its distance from the center of the loop.
1. Centripetal Force in the Universe
Did you know that centripetal force is a highly present force all throughout the universe? What we don’t often realize is that this force acts on nearly all of the heavenly bodies we find in outer space. A prime example of this is the moon. The moon maintains its orbit around the earth because of centripetal force. The gravity between the earth and the moon maintain the moon’s distance from our planet and keeps it from drifting away. In the same way, the earth also maintains its revolution around the sun because of centripetal force.
2. The Opposite
Of course, while the centripetal force keeps objects from drifting away or flying outside of a range of motion, there is an opposite force than can cause objects to fling out of orbit. This force is called centrifugal force. Imagine yourself holding on to the bars of a merry go round as your friends start to spin it faster. As you the spinning increases, you’re forced to hold on tighter. When you let go, you’re likely to fall out of the ride. Centripetal force was created as you held on the ride and was the force that kept you in place, but when you let go, it was centrifugal force that left you flying out of the ride.