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Science Students Life Hack: Easy Ways to Find the Centripetal Force of an Object

A teacher teaching students

Any movement on the curved road represents acceleration, and it requires a force directed towards the center of the road.

This force is called the centripetal force, which is why it is called the force “looking for the center.”

The following formula can calculate its value:

  • Where m is the mass of the object
  • Whereas r is the circular radius
  • And v is the velocity with which the object is moving


You must have felt unpleasant when your car entered a steep turn. You must have experienced being thrown to the sidelines.

It means that a special force acted on you; this force is called centripetal force.

This force is very breathtaking in sharp turns when it presses you to the side of the car.

An outside observer will see everything differently; when the car makes a turn, the observer will imagine that the vehicle is merely continuing the rectilinear motion.

Anybody who is not affected by the external force will feel the same.

Observers will feel that the car doors are putting pressure on the persons inside the car.

However, in both of these views, the events are identical. The only difference will be the explanation of what is happening by the internal and external observer.

It should be noted that you must not confuse the term centripetal force with gravity and deformation forces.

The existence of the centripetal force is because of centripetal acceleration.

The physical cause of this centripetal force can vary based on different circumstances.

How to Calculate the Centripetal Force

If you have the value of mass, the velocity of the moving object, and the circular radius, you can collect the centripetal force by using the formula mentioned earlier.

You can also calculate this force by using a centripetal force calculator from the internet.

By entering the mass values in kg, radius in meter, and velocity in meter per second, you will get the desired output according to the input.

We got the value of the centripetal force 490 N by entering the following values:

Mass = 100 kg

Radius = 40 m

Velocity = 14 m/s

We also have the option to calculate the other variables like mass, radius, and velocity. So, you see, the calculation of the centripetal force is not very difficult.

You can do it manually or by using the tools available on the internet. Centripetal force is vital for an object for the sake of its circular motion.

How to find Centripetal force with Incomplete Information

If you don’t have the complete information to put in the formula or the online tool, then it looks like it is impossible to find the value of the centripetal force.

But you can work out what the force might be in this whole process.

For example, if you want to find the centripetal force acting on a particular planet exerted by the moon or a star, you might know that this type of force comes from gravity.

It means you can also find the force by the equation for gravitational force:

Where m1 and m2 are the masses, and r is the separation between these masses.

To calculate the value of force without radius, you may need the circumference whose formula is C=2πr.

You can also find this force by calculating just acceleration using the formula:


And this is also called Newton’s second law of motion, which can be calculated by entering the acceleration and mass of the object.

Do not confuse centripetal force with centrifugal force as both are counterparts of each other.

Examples of Centripetal Force

1. Example

As the earth moves around the sun, it changes its direction continuously. Its acceleration is further directed towards the sun.

Behind this acceleration, there exists a force according to Newton’s 1st and 2nd law of motion.

According to Newton’s law of motion, every action reacts. In this case, the force causing the acceleration is gravity.

2. Example

By swinging a ball on a string in a circular motion with constant speed, we will get the cause of acceleration in the form of tension in the string.

3. Example

Turning the car with constant speed is another example, where the source of force can be the friction between the road and the vehicle’s wheels.

Summing it up

Centripetal force can be observed at many moments in our daily lives, and it is also essential for the movement of objects in a circular path.

We have seen how it is easy to find the centripetal force if you have proper values.

Even if you don’t have values, you can calculate with other suitable formulas as we described earlier.

We hope this guide will be helpful when you look to find the centripetal force in your practical life.

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