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Saturday 25th October 2014
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Does Your Weight Change if You Are Closer to the Equator?

Question

Does the weight of a body change according to its proximity to the equator and the effect of centrifugal force?
David, Doncaster

 

Answer

**Definitive**
Name: Peter, Dulwich
Qualification: Maths and Physics Tutor
Yes. At the North Pole you're not taking part in the rapid rotation of the earth. If you stand at the equator you are moving round about 1000 miles an hour. If you are going to move in a circle you need a force to keep you moving in that circle and that force must be directed towards the centre of the circle - centrifugal force. On the earth the force is supplied by gravity. Centrifugal force tries to throw you off, gravity keeps you on - that erodes your gravitational mass. It doesn't affect the apparatus though e.g. a spring balance so when measured a person will appear to weigh less at the equator than the North Pole although the difference is small - a 70kg man will weigh 69.75kg or something like that.

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