Tangential and Radial Acceleration Calculator

Tangential and Radial Acceleration are key concepts in the field of Physics, particularly within the realm of Classical Mechanics and kinematics. Understanding these accelerations is crucial when dealing with objects moving along curved paths. This tutorial will delve into the defining formulas for these accelerations, their derivation, real-life applications, the brilliant minds behind them, and some interesting facts about how they have shaped our world and the field of Physics.

Tangential and Radial Acceleration Calculator
Tangential and Radial Acceleration Calculator Results
Radial acceleration = m/s2
Tangential acceleration = m/s2

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Example Formula

The primary formula for tangential acceleration (at) and radial or centripetal acceleration (ar) are as follows:

at = dv/dt
ar = v2/r
  1. at: This denotes the tangential acceleration, which is the rate of change of speed along the tangential direction.
  2. dv/dt: This is the derivative of velocity with respect to time, signifying the change in velocity over time.
  3. ar: This represents radial or centripetal acceleration, which is the acceleration of an object moving in a circular path towards the center of the circle.
  4. v2/r: This is the square of the velocity divided by the radius of the circular path, illustrating the rate at which the object's direction of motion changes.

Who wrote/refined the formula

These formulas were derived from the basic principles of motion defined by Sir Isaac Newton, specifically his laws of motion and universal gravitation, formulated in the 17th century. These principles have not only played a crucial role in Physics but have been pivotal in fields like Engineering, Aerospace, and even in developing GPS technology.

Real Life Application

A perfect real-life application of these concepts is seen in the domain of satellite motion. For a satellite to maintain its orbit around the Earth, it must have the right balance of tangential velocity (to prevent it from falling into the Earth) and radial acceleration (to prevent it from drifting into space). Hence, the understanding of tangential and radial acceleration is vital in launching and maintaining satellites in their orbits.

Key individuals in the discipline

Sir Isaac Newton, a renowned physicist and mathematician, is the key figure in the development of these concepts. In the 17th century, he formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that formed the foundation of Classical Mechanics. Newton's laws have been instrumental in understanding and interpreting the motion of objects in our universe.

Interesting Facts

  1. The principles of radial and tangential acceleration have been pivotal in the development and refinement of roller coasters, providing thrill-seekers with a safe yet exhilarating experience.
  2. These principles have revolutionized the field of Physics and Engineering, contributing to advancements in space travel and enabling humanity's exploration of outer space.
  3. The concept of radial acceleration is vital in the study of planetary orbits in Astrophysics, fundamentally influencing our understanding of the cosmos.


Tangential and Radial Acceleration remain essential concepts in Physics, playing an instrumental role in a variety of practical applications and academic pursuits. The principles established by Newton continue to influence many fields, serving as a testament to the profound impact of Classical Mechanics on our understanding of the physical world.

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