As a roller coaster car crosses the top of a 40-m-diameter loop-the-loop, its apparent weight is the same as its true weight. What is the car's speed at the top?

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- Jan 20th 2009, 05:42 PMkatchat64Apparent Forces in Circular Motion
As a roller coaster car crosses the top of a 40-m-diameter loop-the-loop, its apparent weight is the same as its true weight. What is the car's speed at the top?

- Jan 20th 2009, 06:10 PMMush
The 'apparent' force in this situation is the 'centrifugal' force which appears to pull a body away from the centre of the circular motion.

At the top of the loop, if the car has any forward speed, the centrifugal force will seem to pull the car vertically up into the air, in the opposite direction of the force of gravity, and hence it should seem to have less weight than if it was sitting on the ground.

However, at the top of the loop, the car's apparent weight is the same as it's true weight. This tells us that the centrifugal force is NOT acting. Which means that the car has zero forward speed at the top of the loop.

PS: There's no such thing as a centrifugal force. What is being experienced as a centrifugal force is actually a LACK of a centripetal force (a force that pushes the body towards the centre of motion.)