Centrifugal Force vs. Centripetal Force: What's the Difference?

Key Difference

Whenever a body revolves around a center in a circular path, a fictitious force produces due to inertia produced while moving, which force the body against the axis of rotation and let the body go away from the center of rotation. In other words, we can say that Centrifugal force is a pseudo or fictitious force which is caused due to the inertia of a rotating body in a circular path. It can also be termed as the tendency of an object moving in a circular path to go in the opposite direction of the center of curvature. On the other hand centripetal force is the actual force that impels on the body moving in the circular path and directs its motion towards the center of curvature enabling its uniform circular motion. The centrifugal effect is canceled by Centripetal force, due to which a body moves in a uniform motion inside a circular path.

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Comparison Chart

Centrifugal Force Centripetal Force
About It is a fictitious force caused due to the inertia of the moving body; it is the force that directs the body is moving in a circular path away from the center of curvature. Centripetal force is a real force acting against the inertial effect of the body and tends to keep the body moving in a circular path with uniform motion.
Status of Force Centrifugal force is not a force in real; it is the inertial effect of the body moving in a circular path. Centripetal force is the real force that impels on the moving body and let it circulate the center of curvature with uniform motion.
Formula Fc= mv2/r Fc= mv2/r
Defined first by In 1659 by Chistiaan Hygens. In 1684 by Isaac Newton.
Direction Centrifugal force directs away from the center of curvature. It ranges from the center towards the object itself. Centripetal force directs towards the center of curvature canceling the inertial effect. It ranges from object towards the center.
Example A common example includes cars pushed out on a circular path; people pushed out on roundabout, etc. A common example includes the rotation of the earth around sun and rotation of the moon around the earth. Another is of satellite rotating around the earth.

 What is Centrifugal Force?

Centrifugal force is not a force in real. It is a misconception among people, and they are often confused between centrifugal and centripetal force. Centrifugal force is the effect produced by the inertia of the body moving in a circular path around a center of curvature. This inertial effect of the moving body in a circular path, which is directed from the center of curvature towards the body is termed as Centrifugal force. It is moreover regarded as a fictitious or pseudo force as it is not a proper force on its own. Whenever a body moves around a center of curvature in a circular path, due to its inertia, a force is generated which impels from the center of the curvature towards the body and let the body move away from the center of curvature breaking up the circular path. In other words, we can term the centrifugal force as the throwing away effect or force which enables the body to break and fly out of the circular path-breaking the circular motion. It usually does not happen because the effect of centrifugal force is canceled by the centripetal force which is a real force and acts against the direction of centrifugal force canceling its effect. In the cases when a body moving in a circular path breaks that path and is thrown away against the direction of the center of curvature, it is due to the dominance of centrifugal effect over centripetal force. Chistiaan Hygens first described the centrifugal force in 1659. Later on, in 1684 Isaac Newton more clearly depict the idea of centrifugal force along with defining the centripetal force too.

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What is Centripetal Force?

Centripetal force is the real force that acts in the opposite direction of the centrifugal force canceling the inertial effect of the body moving in a circular path. Centripetal force is a force which directs from the moving body towards the center of curvature along which the body is moving and let the body move around in the circular path with uniform motion. It keeps the body moving in the circular path around the center of curvature by canceling the centrifugal effect. Thus we can say the centripetal force is the real force that acts on the body moving in a circular path and prevent it from breaking the uniform circular motion and fly out from the rotating path. The most common example of acting of centripetal force is our earth rotating around the sun. The artificial satellites orbiting around the earth follow the principles of centripetal force. If the centripetal force increases than the centrifugal force, the object is directed and can be pulled towards the center of curvature and if the centripetal force is less than the centrifugal force than the object can be pushed out of the circular path-breaking the circular motion.

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Centrifugal Force vs. Centripetal Force

  • Centrifugal force is a fictitious force caused due to the inertia of body moving in a circular
  • Centripetal force is a real force that acts against the centrifugal force.
  • Centrifugal force is directed from the center towards the body.
  • Centripetal force is directed from the body towards the center.

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