What is Tangential Acceleration?
Tangential Acceleration Examples In Physics
Tangential Acceleration Examples In Physics
Are you familiar with the concept of tangential acceleration?
It is an important concept in physics that is worth knowing about. Tangential acceleration is a type of acceleration that occurs when an object moves in a circular path.
Examples of tangential acceleration can be found everywhere, from the merrygoround to the planet orbiting the Sun. In this blog post, we will explore nine everyday tangential acceleration examples in physics.
But before you read any further, it might be a good idea to briefly understand the concept of tangential acceleration.
It will help you to understand the examples better. If you want to skip, you can skip by clicking on the link below.
What is tangential Acceleration?
Tangential acceleration is the force that makes an object in a circular motion increase or decreases speed and it is always directed tangentially to the circular path.
Tangentially means a straight line that touches a curve or circular path at a single point.
For Example: Imagine you are spinning a ball on a string. As you spin the ball faster, it moves around the circle at a higher speed. This increase in speed is due to tangential acceleration. Similarly, if you slow down the ball’s spinning, it moves around the circle at a lower speed due to the tangential acceleration.
Tangential Acceleration Formula
The formula for tangential acceleration is:
a_{t} = rα
where
“a_{t}” is the tangential acceleration
“r” is the radius of the circular path
“α” is the angular acceleration
How to find tangential acceleration?
Example: A disk of radius 0.5 meters is rotating with an angular acceleration of 4 rad/s^{2.} What is the tangential acceleration at a point on the edge of the disk?
Solution: The tangential acceleration of a point on the edge of a rotating disk can be calculated using the formula a_{t} = rα, where “a” is the tangential acceleration, “r” is the radius of the disk, and “α” is the angular acceleration. In this example, we are given the radius and the angular acceleration, so we can simply plug in the values to find the tangential acceleration: a_{t} = rα Therefore, the tangential acceleration (a_{t}) at a point on the edge of the disk is 2 m/s^{2.} 
Tangential Acceleration Vs Centripetal Acceleration
Tangential acceleration and centripetal acceleration are both types of acceleration that occur in a circular motion, but they are different in nature and direction.
9 Tangential Acceleration Examples In Physics
I hope the explanation of tangential acceleration provided earlier has been clear and easy to understand. Now let us look at the examples to understand more clearly.
Examples

Spinning a basketball on your finger

A child on a merrygoround

An object rolling down a hill

A car making a sharp turn

A skater spinning on the ice

A planet orbiting the sun

A satellite orbiting the earth

A spinning top

Cyclist taking a turn on a circular track
In the following paragraph, I will provide a brief explanation of each example mentioned earlier.

Spinning a basketball on your finger:
When you spin a basketball on your finger, you are applying a force to the ball that creates a circular motion. The ball experiences a change in velocity, either speeding up or slowing down, to maintain its circular path. This change in velocity is called tangential acceleration. 
A child on a merrygoround:
As a child rides a merrygoround, they experience a change in velocity, either speeding up or slowing down, as they move in a circular path. This change in velocity is caused by a force called tangential acceleration. 
An object rolling down a hill:
When an object rolls down a hill, it experiences a force called gravity that causes it to accelerate in a tangential direction, or parallel to the slope of the hill. This tangential acceleration causes the object to increase its speed as it rolls down the hill. 
A car making a sharp turn:
When a car makes a sharp turn, it experiences a force called the centripetal force that keeps it moving in a circular path. This force causes the car to slow down, or experience a change in tangential velocity, as it turns. 
A skater spinning on the ice:
When a skater spins on the ice, they experience a change in velocity, either speeding up or slowing down, as they move in a circular path. This change in velocity is caused by tangential acceleration. 
A planet orbiting the sun:
As a planet orbits the sun, it experiences a force called gravity that causes it to accelerate in a tangential direction, or parallel to its orbit. This tangential acceleration causes the planet to change its speed as it moves in its orbit. 
A satellite orbiting the earth:
As a satellite orbits the earth, it experiences a force called the centripetal force that keeps it moving in a circular path. This force causes the satellite to maintain a constant speed and direction, or experience no tangential acceleration. 
A spinning top:
A spinning top experiences a change in velocity, either speeding up or slowing down, as it rotates. This change in velocity is caused by tangential acceleration. 
A cyclist taking a turn on a circular track:
A cyclist taking a turn on a circular track experiences a change in tangential velocity as they turn. They must slow down or speed up to maintain their circular path and prevent themselves from falling off the track. This change in velocity is caused by tangential acceleration.
References

“Centripetal Acceleration.” by Khan Academy,
The article explains the concept of centripetal acceleration, its formula, and its relationship with centripetal force. It also provides several examples of centripetal acceleration in different scenarios.
The link is to the “Centripetal Force” section on the HyperPhysics website, It explains calculations also.
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