How Roller Coasters Are Affected by Math

Topics: Roller coaster, Steel roller coaster, Wooden roller coaster Pages: 3 (1061 words) Published: October 16, 2011
Samantha Robinson

Math and Roller Coasters

It’s not something that most people think about when they’re standing in line for an hour waiting for two minutes of thrill, but math has a lot to do with building a roller coaster. The engineer needs to know how long and how high the ride needs to be before it can begin to be put together. These measurements have to be precise because the first drop has to give it enough speed to carry it through all the features of the ride. They would also have to take into consideration whether it will be made out of wood or steel because a wood coaster can not be as high as a steel one. The weight of the cars plays a part in the structure since it can’t be too heavy or this will interfere with the speed. It will also cause it to fall down the steep sloop it travels to get to the first drop. To name a few, geometry, algebra and trigonometry are used when a roller coaster is being designed.

There are various types of rides and they all have to be built differently. The corkscrew is shaped like a twisted spiral. Geometry definitely plays a big part in the creation of this ride because the track rails have to be equal so the wheels can stay in sync.          When a launch coaster is being put together the engineer needs to calculate the amount of stress that can be put on the launching gear. This again, is where the weight of the cars comes in. If the launching device can’t move the cars because they’re too heavy, the gear may break which could cause people to be hurt and the park could lose money during the duration of the repair.

Geometry is the one that we notice the most because it’s involved in the dives, loops, twists and turns as well as going upside down. All of these features are based on triangles, angles, cylinders, circles among other shapes. One example is the loop de loop feature which makes the ride move in a circle. The builder has to make sure that the g-forces on the ride, which is responsible for...
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