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Physics/Centr. Acc.

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Question
Hi,
Does the friction between the tires and the pavement of a turning car "cause" the Centripetal Acceleration that is pushing the car towards the center of the turn arc ?

Thanks,
Qelsey

Answer
Hello Qelsey,

I have a slight problem, perhaps just a quibble, with talking about an acceleration pushing. A force pushes. Like I say, perhaps that's merely a quibble. Other than that, I would say yes to your question.

The friction provides the centripetal force that is required to change the direction of the car's velocity vector. And as Newton's 2nd Law requires, that force provides an acceleration -- the centripetal acceleration Ac in the expression
Fc = m*Ac
where I'm using Fc for centripetal force and Ac for centripetal acceleration.

So the friction is a centripetal force and that force causes centripetal acceleration.

I hope this helps,
Steve

Physics

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Steve Johnson

Expertise

I would be delighted to help with questions up through the first year of college Physics. Particularly Electricity, Electronics and Newtonian Mechanics (motion, acceleration etc.). I decline questions on relativity and Atomic Physics. I also could discuss the Space Shuttle and space flight in general.

Experience

I have a BS in Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering. I am retired now. My professional career was in Electrical Engineering with considerable time spent working with accelerometers, gyroscopes and flight dynamics (Physics related topics) while working on the Space Shuttle. I gave formal classroom lessons to technical co-workers periodically over a several year period.

Education/Credentials
BS Physics, North Dakota State University
MS Electrical Engineering, North Dakota State University

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