The first of these forces is exerted by every moving body, whatever the nature of the path in which it is moving, and always in the direction of its motion. The latter force is exerted only by bodies whose path is a circle, or a curve of some form, about a central body or point, to which it is held, and this force is always at right angles with the direction of motion of the body.
Respecting momentum, I wish only to call your attention to a single fact, which will become of importance in the course of our discussion. Experiments on falling bodies, as well as all experience, show that the velocity of every moving body is the product of two factors, which must combine to produce it. Those factors are force and distance. In order to impart motion to the body, force must act through distance. These two factors may be combined in any proportions whatever. The velocity imparted to the body will vary as the square root of their product. Thus, in the case of any given body,
Let force 1, acting through distance 1, impart velocity 1. Then " 1, " " " 4, will " " 2, or " 2, " " " 2, " " " 2, or " 4, " " " 1, " " " 2; And " 1, " " " 9, " " " 3, or " 3, " " " 3, " " " 3, or " 9, " " " 1, " " " 3.
This table might be continued indefinitely. The product of the force into the distance will always vary as the square of the final velocity imparted. To arrest a given velocity, the same force, acting through the same distance, or the same product of force into distance, is required that was required to impart the velocity.
The fundamental truth which I now wish to impress upon your minds is that in order to impart velocity to a body, to develop the energy which is possessed by a body in motion, force must act through distance. Distance is a factor as essential as force. Infinite force could not impart to a body the least velocity, could not develop the least energy, without acting through distance.
This exposition of the nature of momentum is sufficient for my present purpose. I shall have occasion to apply it later on, and to describe the methods of balancing this force, in those cases in which it becomes necessary or desirable to do so. At present I will proceed to consider the second of the forces, or manifestations of force, which are developed in moving bodies--centrifugal force.
This force presents its claims to attention in all bodies which revolve about fixed centers, and sometimes these claims are presented with a good deal of urgency. At the same time, there is probably no subject, about which the ideas of men generally are more vague and confused. This confusion is directly due to the vague manner in which the subject of centrifugal force is treated, even by our best writers. As would then naturally be expected, the definitions of it commonly found in our handbooks are generally indefinite, or misleading, or even absolutely untrue.
Before we can intelligently consider the principles and methods of balancing this force, we must get a correct conception of the nature of the force itself. What, then, is centrifugal force? It is an extremely simple thing; a very ordinary amount of mechanical intelligence is sufficient to enable one to form a correct and clear idea of it. This fact renders it all the more surprising that such inaccurate and confused language should be employed in its definition. Respecting writers, also, who use language with precision, and who are profound masters of this subject, it must be said that, if it had been their purpose to shroud centrifugal force in mystery, they could hardly have accomplished this purpose more effectually than they have done, to minds by whom it was not already well understood.
Let us suppose a body to be moving in a circular path, around a center to which it is firmly held; and let us, moreover, suppose the impelling force, by which the body was put in motion, to have ceased; and, also, that the body encounters no resistance to its motion. It is then, by our supposition, moving in its circular path with a uniform velocity, neither accelerated nor retarded. Under these conditions, what is the force which is being exerted on this body? Clearly, there is only one such force, and that is, the force which holds it to the center, and compels it, in its uniform motion, to maintain a fixed distance from this center. This is what is termed centripetal force. It is obvious, that the centripetal force, which holds this revolving body to the center, is the only force which is being exerted upon it.
Where, then, is the centrifugal force? Why, the fact is, there is not any such thing. In the dynamical sense of the term "force," the sense in which this term is always understood in ordinary speech, as something tending to produce motion, and the direction of which determines the direction in which motion of a body must take place, there is, I repeat, no such thing as centrifugal force.
There is, however, another sense in which the term "force" is employed, which, in distinction from the above, is termed a statical sense. This "statical force" is the force by the exertion of which a body keeps still. It is the force of inertia--the resistance which all matter opposes to a dynamical force exerted to put it in motion. This is the sense in which the term "force" is employed in the expression "centrifugal force." Is that all? you ask. Yes; that is all.
I must explain to you how it is that a revolving body exerts this resistance to being put in motion, when all the while it is in motion, with, according to our above supposition, a uniform velocity. The first law of motion, so far as we now have occasion to employ it, is that a body, when put in motion, moves in a straight line. This a moving body always does, unless it is acted on by some force, other than its impelling force, which deflects it, or turns it aside, from its direct line of motion. A familiar example of this deflecting force is afforded by the force of gravity, as it acts on a projectile. The projectile, discharged at any angle of elevation, would move on in a straight line forever, but, first, it is constantly retarded by the resistance of the atmosphere, and, second, it is constantly drawn downward, or made to fall, by the attraction of the earth; and so instead of a straight line it describes a curve, known as the trajectory.