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Consider a structure that is in the shape as shown below rotating about an axis through its middle perpendicular to the long axis in order to provide artificial gravity.


What would an astronaut experience as he walks across the long axis from one end to the other. Explain the underlying physical principles of this dynamic system.

I am still confused as to how to answer this problem and what underlying principles I should be discussing about. Is it about the centrifugal force and something along those lines?

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That would be homework right? –  Andersi2 Nov 8 '13 at 12:58
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closed as off-topic by John Rennie, Dimensio1n0, akhmeteli, Emilio Pisanty, Chris White Nov 8 '13 at 20:42

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1 Answer

Assuming the structure rotates with constant angular velocity $\omega$, two things will happen:-

  1. The person will feel decreasing radial acceleration, which is given by $\omega^2r$. This is because $r$, his distance from the center, is decreasing.
  2. The person will feel another acceleration in the tangential direction due to an imaginary force called Coriolis Force. This acceleration is given by $2\vec \omega \times \vec v$. This force is experienced by a body moving in a rotating frame of reference.
    As the person has a radial velocity $v$ radially inward, he will feel this force, and in effect will be pushed to any one of the side walls.

As to the total "artificial gravity" felt by the person, the net acceleration he will feel will be $a = \sqrt{(\omega^2r)^2+(2\omega v)^2}$.
As you can see, this term depends on his distance from the center, and how fast he is moving radially inward. Plus the direction will be changing too. So in short, it will be a pretty dizzy trip for him!

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Thanks for the explanation. I was proposed with the idea of centrifugal force rather than angular velocity and coriolis force. Wouldn't I answer the question saying that it would be a representation of centrifugal force where the rotation would create an outward force in the end caps? Thanks again. –  user32398 Nov 9 '13 at 8:30
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