## If you feel fictitious force upward on a loop the loop, how can that fictitious …

#### If you feel fictitious force upward on a loop the loop, how can that fictitious force make objects fall upward? Is fictitious force fictional or real?

As you travel over the top of the loop the loop, you observe the world from an inverted perspective. The sky is below you and the ground is above you. If you were to take a coin out of your pocket and release it, you would see it fall toward your seat. From that observation, and the feeling of being pressed into your seat, you might think that gravity is suddenly pulling you toward the sky. It isn’t. Gravity is still pulling you toward the ground, but you are in a car that is accelerating rapidly toward the ground. As a result, the car is having to push you toward the ground with a force on the seat of your pants. You feel pressed into your seat because the car is pushing you downward hard. When you release the coin, it seems to fall toward the sky, but it’s really just falling more slowly than you are. With the car pushing you downward, you’re accelerating toward the ground faster than the coin and you overtake it on the way down. It drifts toward the seat of the car because the car seat accelerates toward it. As you can see, the only forces around are the force of gravity and support forces from the car. There is no outward or upward force here. The fictitious force is truly fictional; a way of talking about the strange pull you feel toward the outside of the loop.

## When a ball swings in a horizontal circle at the end of a string, what’s the for…

#### When a ball swings in a horizontal circle at the end of a string, what’s the force on the ball pulling it straight? What’s the force pulling it out?

Let’s neglect gravity, which isn’t important in this horizontal motion problem. When a ball swings in a circle at the end of a string, there is only one force on it and that force is inward (toward the center of the circle). We call such a force a centripetal force, meaning toward the center. There are many kinds of centripetal forces and the string’s force is one of them. As for the ball’s tendency to travel in a straight line, that’s just the ball’s inertia. With no forces acting on it, it will obey Newton’s first law and travel in a straight line. There is no real force pulling the ball outward. But a person riding on the ball will feel pulled outward. We call this feeling a fictitious force. Fictitious forces always appear in the direction opposite an acceleration. In this case (an object traveling in a circle) the outward fictitious force is called centrifugal “force.” But remember that it’s not a real force; it’s just the object’s inertia trying to make it go in a straight line.

## When you spin an object around a fixed point, a sling for example, does the obje…

#### When you spin an object around a fixed point, a sling for example, does the object at the end build up energy that causes it to shoot out quickly when released?

Yes. As you whip the object around on a string, you are doing work on it. You do this by making subtle movements with your hand, exerting forces that aren’t exactly toward the center of the circle. When you do this, the object begins to travel faster and faster, so its kinetic energy increases. Traveling in a circle doesn’t change this kinetic energy because kinetic energy is proportional to speed squared, and doesn’t depend on direction. Finally, when you let go of the string, the object stops circling and begins to travel in a straight line. It carries with it all the kinetic energy you gave it by whipping it about.