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centripetal (adj) forcing things towards the centre of a moving system.

Centripetal is the opposite of centrifugal. The Sun, for example, exerts centripetal force to keep the planets in orbit. The Sun, because of its far heavier mass, and therefore, because of its greater gravitational force exerts a centripetal force which is greater than the centrifugal force. This maintains the equilibrium of the solar system.

  • In shot put throw, the sportsperson turns round the shot attached to a chain, with great force, so that the centrifugal force exceeds the centripetal force and lands the shot as far away as possible.
  • The centripetal force should either neutralize the centrifugal force or exceed it, to keep things from moving away from the center.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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