Math and Roller Coasters

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Have you ever ridden on a rollercoaster and felt your heart drop as you were going downhill? Have you asked yourself how getting these feelings were possible? The answer is math. You may ask what math has to do with rollercoasters. Math is the reason for everything and anything that has to do with rollercoasters. Without math, it would be impossible to even be able to create one. To build a rollercoaster you need to be able to use numbers when talking about the costs, taking measurements, calculating the sizes, weighing, measuring the safety, looking at statistics, and calculating the force, speed, and motion. Trigonometry, algebra, geometry and calculus all take a huge role helping out in forming these models.

Roller coasters first originated in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Russians. They would create sleds made of ice or wood and slide down slopes. The French were amused with this pass time that they actually took the idea back with them home. On HowStuffWorks.com it states, “The most widespread account is that a few entrepreneurial Frenchmen imported the ice slide idea to France.” This was the first time that people were amused with any thought or idea of sliding down some kind of slope and feeling a rush that someday would turn out to be one of the favorite pastimes to present day. It was not until years later when La Marcus Thompson, an inventor and designer created the first roller coaster in Coney Island, New York City. In Wired.com it states, “…hurtled passengers down an undulating 600-foot-long track at speeds of up to a blistering 6 mph would hardly be recognizable to riders of modern-day roller coasters.” The coaster was a 50 foot platform and the passengers would sit sideways. This was the beginning of the rollercoaster.

How does math come into play then? Math is needed to build a roller coaster because everything has to be precise. The first drop is one of the most important because it will determine the speed for the rest of the ride. The...
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