Summary: Circular motion
and Richard Conn Henryb)
Received 20 October 1999; accepted 30 November 1999
An extraordinarily simple and transparent derivation of the formula for the acceleration that occurs
in uniform circular motion is presented, and is advocated for use in high school and college
freshman physics textbooks. © 2000 American Association of Physics Teachers.
The familiar formula for the acceleration that occurs in
uniform circular motion,
may be, today, a staple of freshman physics, but just 350
years ago it represented the cutting edge of physics research.
Its introduction marked the real beginning of the mathema-
tization of physics. How did it arise? And most important,
how should it be taught to students today?
The recognition that uniform circular motion does involve
acceleration began with Galileo and Descartes; however,