Roller Coaster Physics

Topics: Roller coaster, Potential energy, Force Pages: 4 (1468 words) Published: June 1, 2011
Individuals love to go to the amusement parks and try out the rides that are available. The most common and thrilling ride is the roller coaster. An amusement park is not an amusement park if it does not contain a roller coaster. What makes these roller coasters so fun that every amuse parks has one. A lot of people would say it is their extreme high speeds that makes it very exciting. That is a valid answer, but it is the wrong answer. The speed has nothing to do with the excitement. It is more than likely that most people travel faster on their ride along the highway on the way to the amusement park than they would in a roller coaster. Basically the thrill all comes from the acceleration and the feeling of weightlessness that they produce. Roller coasters thrill people because of their ability to accelerate them downward one moment and upwards the next; leftwards one moment and rightwards the next. How does this thrill machine work? There are two ways that this question will be answered. First, through the basic principles and then through a more advanced explanation. Roller coaster rides involve a great deal of physics. The ride often begins with a chain and motor which exerts a force on the train of cars to lift the train to the top of a tall hill. Once the cars are lifted to the top of the hill, gravity takes over and the rest of the ride works on energy transformation. There is no motor or engine that takes a train around the track. The law of physics is basically the engine of the train. At the top of the hill, the cars possess a large amount of potential energy because they are elevated very high above the ground. The potential energy depends on the mass and the height of the object. As the cars are released they lose a lot of their potential energy but they gain kinetic energy because all of the potential energy is transferred into kinetic energy. The kinetic energy depends on the mass of the object and the speed of the object. As the cars lose speed,...
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