May the Forces Be With You

Gravity and the Centrifugal Force


Does the Mississippi flow south because of centrifugal force? Yes - the source of the Mississippi is actually closer to the center of the Earth than the mouth is. The river flows uphill in the sense that it flows away from the center of the Earth.

How does this work? The maximum centrifugal acceleration on the Earth is a 30th of a meter per second squared which is only one 300th of the acceleration of gravity. The key is to think about the direction of interest.

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