An analysis of problems of a roller coaster

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An analysis of problems of a roller coaster

Roller Coaster Physics Source: There are many variations on roller coaster design. But needless to say, they all involve going around loops, bends, and twists at high speed. The typical roller coaster works by gravity. There are no motors used to power it during the ride.

Starting from rest, it simply descends down a steep hill, and converts the stored gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy, by gaining speed. The roller coaster uses a motorized lift system to return to its original position at the top of the initial hill, ready for the next ride.

The figure below illustrates the concept. This can be expressed mathematically as follows. Let W be the gravitational potential energy at the top of the hill. Then, where m is the mass of the roller coaster, and g is the acceleration due to gravity, which equals 9.

The kinetic energy of the roller coaster is: If we assume no friction losses, then energy is conserved. Therefore, Thus, mass cancels out, and This result is nice because it allows us to approximate the speed of the roller coaster knowing only the vertical height h that it fell on any part of the track.

Of course, due to friction losses the speed will be a bit less than this, but it is very useful nonetheless. Another important aspect of roller coaster physics is the acceleration the riders experience. The main type of acceleration on a roller coaster is centripetal acceleration.

Centripetal acceleration occurs mainly when the roller coaster is traveling at high speed around a loop, as illustrated in the figure below.

An analysis of problems of a roller coaster

The centripetal acceleration experienced by the riders going around the loop is: Centripetal acceleration can also occur when the riders twist around a track, as illustrated in the figure below.

BrandonR The centripetal acceleration experienced by the riders twisting around the track is: The acceleration experienced by riders on roller coasters can be quite high, as much as g which is times the force of gravity.

In summary, the physics of roller coasters in general is a combination of gravitational potential energy converted into kinetic energy high speedand using this speed to create centripetal acceleration around different portions of the track.

Roller Coaster Analysis by Zachary Freeman on Prezi

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In other words, we're still stuck on that roller-coaster. The latest travel information, deals, guides and reviews from USA TODAY Travel.

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