fake forces

Pouring tea in a plane - upside down

Let me start with the video. Here is a guy flying a plane in a barrel roll and pouring some tea at the same time. Talk about multitasking. How can he pour upside down? Well, there are two ways to look at this. First, I can look at this in the frame of the plane. For this case, I can invoke the fake force - centrifugal force. Oh yes, I am going to do it. You probably remember all your physics instructors warning you to never ever do this. Well, they say that because they are afraid you will do something bad with it. Here, I will only use the centrifugal force for good. What is the…

When the centrifugal force is the centripetal force

It's odd that I have talked about these forces so much. First, I talked about how centrifugal forces were not real and the difference between centrifugal and centripetal forces. Then I talked about how sometimes, fake forces are good. Finally, I talked about the origin of the words centrifugal and centripetal. (note: "talked about" means wrote a blog post) In thinking about centripetal forces, I realized that I could come up with a situation in which the centrifugal force is the centripetal force. This is great. I can end all the confusion between centrifugal and centripetal by making a…

Fake Forces - sometimes they are Fantastic

What is a fake force? A fake force is one of those forces that introductory texts tell you aren't real - like centrifugal force. They aren't real in the sense that they are due to one of the fundamental interactions. Basically, introductory texts (and even blogs like this one - not a bad summary of real vs. fake forces) attack the centrifugal force. This is because it is so common for students to want to use these faux forces in the wrong way. Better to just not use them at all. Anyway, there are times when faux forces are awesome. Just to be clear, a faux force is needed to use normal…

Centripetal Force, Centrifugal Force - what's the deal?

A couple of commenters expressed concern over the use of centrifugal force after my rant on the use of the word force. So, what is the deal with these two terms? Are they ok to use? Are they real forces? First, are they real forces? It depends on what you mean by real. What is a force? Here is a quick overview of what a force is. I previously talked about real vs. non-real forces. For me, I say that if the force is essentially one of the 4 fundamental forces then it is "real". With this definition, centripetal force would be real and centrifugal not real. Centripetal Force Centripetal…