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Difference Between Circular Motion and Spinning Motion

Circular Motion vs Spinning Motion

When a body moves in a path in such a manner that every point in its path is at a equal distance from a fixed point called centre of the path, the motion is said to be circular motion. Very early in its journey to a civilized world did man learn the importance of this motion and the invention of wheel is perhaps the biggest invention of human history. The laws governing circular motion can be easily explained using Newton’s Laws of motion. However, there is another type of motion called spinning motion that is closely related to circular motion. Both, circular  motion and spinning motion have some similarities though there are differences also.

Some examples of circular motion in our daily lives are the motion of a ceiling fan that rotates above our heads, the motion of the tires of vehicles and the motion of a stone tied to a string if we rotate it over our heads. Example of spinning motion is motion of a moving spinning top. Spinning motion takes place when an object rotates around its own center of mass. Spinning motion is also called rotational motion.

One example where the object is in a circular motion and also spinning motion is the motion of earth as it rotates around its own axis as well as rotating around the sun in a circular motion. Spinning is like earth when it moves around its own axis while it continues to revolve around the sun which is a circular motion.

For a moving body in a circular motion, there is centripetal force acting towards the centre of the circle which is given by the following formula.

F= m . v2/r

Where m is the mass of the body, r is the radius of the circle and v is its linear velocity.

In the case of an object rotating about its own center of mass, there is an angular momentum governed by Newton’s laws of rotation.

In brief:

Circular Motion vs Spinning Motion

• Circular motion has great importance in our lives which is exemplified by the motion of wheels of automobiles.

• Circular motion can be easily explained using Newton’s Law’s of motion

• Spinning motion is another type of circular motion where an object moves around its own center of mass. This motion induces an angular momentum.

• Spinning motion is governed by Newton’s laws of rotational motion.


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