The Big Think

November 28, 2005

Math Geekitude

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 11:48 am

Okay, Sean, here’s the answer to your question.

Assuming the merry-go-round in question is 8′ in diameter, a 175lb adult at the edge of the merry-go-round will feel a 1g lateral acceleration when the merry-go-round gets up to 10.93mph. The measuring of centripetal force is governed by the following formula:


m is the mass of the object (in this case a 176lb adult)
r is the radius of the merry-go-round (I’ve used 8′), and
t is the speed of the merry-go-round expressed as rotations (back-converted into MPH)

So get that sucker up to almost 11mph and you’ll feel a lateral force of gravity equal to 1g. Of course, this formula doesn’t take into account the natural 1G that you feel from the earth. This is going to deflect the perceived lateral acceleration to a 45 degree angle. To get a pure 1G lateral acceleration in the presence of the natural 1G of the earth’s field you’re going to….. have to ask somebody else. That math is beyond me.

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