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Roller Coasters: The Physics involved and the steps taken to make them fun and exhilarating.

There are many steps to create a roller coaster and there is a lot of physics that make them work.
by

Brendon Cobb

on 21 May 2013

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Transcript of Roller Coasters: The Physics involved and the steps taken to make them fun and exhilarating.

By: Brendon Cobb Roller Coasters:
The physics and steps to make them fun The Question: What are the physics and steps taken to create a fun and exhilarating roller coaster? Rationale: I have always loved roller coasters and wanted to know how they work and how they are designed. The History of Roller Coasters The Beginning: Innovations: With the wide use of railroads, they were soon brought into the roller coaster world to provide a better track and to help propel the car.

La Marcus Adna Thomas was the person best known for his use of use railroads to propel the cart along a track.

Charles Alcoke was responsible for the idea of the lift hill. Ups and Downs: The Physics and Thrills Potential Energy: Kinetic Energy: Gravity: Culminating 11 Velocity: Velocity is the speed and direction an object is moving and is in a direction tangent to its path.

The rate at which velocity changes is acceleration.

After any hill that goes down then come back up on a smaller hill, velocity changes and as a result we feel centripetal acceleration. Acceleration: Acceleration is the rate at which velocity changes. Is usually gravity but for roller coasters its more.

Changes in acceleration affect the thrill of a roller coaster tremendously.

At the bottom of the hill, the acceleration reaches its fastest relative to its hill, and at the bottom of the dip we feel compressed. Centripetal Acceleration: This type of acceleration is acceleration that is directed radially towards a center of a circle.

The force that causes this acceleration is centripetal force.

We feel this as the coaster enters a banked curve and goes through a state of acceleration.

We often feel this as if we are being pushed sideways, some times we feel compressed. Acceleration Stress: Acceleration stress is caused due to high speed drops, turns, and sudden surges in acceleration.

Acceleration stress is measured in gravitational acceleration or "g's." One g is equivalent to the mass of the coaster on Earth, and 3 g's are equivalent to acceleration three times that of a falling body on earth. Types of Acceleration
Positive Acceleration we feel as a heaviness in our seat.

Negative Acceleration we feel as a weightless feeling while in our seat.

Transverse Acceleration is a sideways acceleration and we feel as increased pressure where the our weight is being supported. The Loop: Friction: Centrifugal Force: The Sensations We Feel: As the car of the coaster speeds up or slows down, we feel pressed against the seat or restraining bar.

When we go down a hill we feel more gravity and when we go up a hill we feel less gravity or anti-gravity.

Acceleration makes us feel like we are going the opposite way than the coaster is going due to the forces pushing against us. G-forces or the forces of gravity, are a major contributor to the sensations we feel.

They are most common in clothoid loops because the velocity, acceleration and center point continuously change.

At the top of the loop we either feel weightlessness or normal based on design. The Design and Construction Regulations: The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) has a set of rules and regulations that all parks and rides must follow.

There is constant review of the regulations and periodically Congress raises awareness on ride safety.

There are only 7 states that don't conduct inspections because they have little to no rides. Designing: Then the designers go to the computer and create a model of the coaster. It is done on the computer because calculations are much easier to make.

Then a prototype is built at the manufacturer's place to find any flaws in the design so that they can be fixed.

When the coaster is ready, an Amusement Park purchases the design and the coaster is built at the park. The Skills and Considerations: Some of the skills involved are structural engineering, programming, geology, biology, psychology.

Designs for both steel and wooden coasters: out and back, twister, terrain, enclosed, and mine train.

More complex tracks such as inverted, stand up, floorless, and launch coasters need to be made out of steel.

There are more designs for steel coaster because they have more support and cacn be made into any form. http://www.mickeyxtreme.com/Archives/ArchiveApr23292006.htm The first thrill rides were huge slides made out of ice that were made in Russia.

The slides soon evolved into hills that had multiple hills and later into grooved tracks for a cart to follow.

As the grooved tracks evolved, loops were added for more thrill and fun. http://entertainmentdesigner.com/history-of-theme-parks/the-history-of-roller-coasters-the-ice-slides-of-russia-inspire-first-roller-coaster/ http://www.themeparkreview.com/parks/photo.php?pageid=224&linkid=7208 During the Depression, many amusement parks were torn down as companies went bankrupt.

This happened right as roller coasters were becoming big.

Following the Great Depression and World Wars, Disneyland revolutionized Amusement Parks and brought them back. http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/disneyland-opens.htm Potential Energy is the energy that is built at during the first hill of the roller coaster.

It provides all of the energy that will be used during the ride.

As the coaster descends the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. http://www.themeparkreview.com/parks/photo.php?pageid=224&linkid=7208 As we enter the loop we feel pressed against our seat as the acceleration stress increases.

Modern loops are tear shaped and arae known as clothoid loops. These were made to lower the overall g's felt in the loop.

The radius at the top of the loop is made smaller so that when gravity is subtracted from the total g's, it will equate to one g and we feel normal weight at the top. http://dcjourney.com/amusement-parks/item/67-kings-dominion?tmpl=component&print=1 Kinetic energy is the energy an object has while its in motion.

Due to gravity and the mass of the car and its riders, the coaster gains more kinetic energy as it descends.

If the coaster ever goes up, the kinetic energy transfers back into potential energy. Friction is the force that resists sliding or rolling of an object over a surface or another object.

On a roller coaster friction (wind resistance, wheels on track, etc.) is the cause of the loss of mechanical energy.

We also feel friction at the end of the coaster as it is braked and slowed. http://www.tamieveslage.com/2009/07/roller-coaster-summer-stop-world-i.html http://www.extreme-safari.com/skydive/index.html Gravity is the dominant force on Earth and is the force that affects all matter.

Gravity is the traditional source of power, accelerating the roller coaster through loops and twists.

Gravity is used to detach the car from the lift hill and to begin its descent down the tallest hill. http://projects.ajc.com/gallery/view/travel/otherdestinations/best-roller-coasters/ http://themeparks.about.com/od/photoandvideogallery/ig/Intimidator-305/Well-Grounded.htm Centrifugal force is commonly seen in corkscrews.

The coaster enters a full rotation at high speeds and people are pressed against the coaster and feel like they are being pulled away too. http://howsb.info/hs-ruff First it must be decided if the coaster will be made out of wood or steel.

Then a unique theme is thought of and people who will be riding this ride (i.e. older vs younger) are considered.

Then the designers must know how much space they have to work with. http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/coasters/pictures/roar/roar13.shtml http://patcoston.com/images/default.aspx?path=places/new%20jersey/fall%202007 My own model roller coaster that helps express the physics behind roller coasters. My product: Sketches: After my research I sketched a couple designs for my model.

I then used Autodesk Inventor to create a 3D model for my roller coaster. Conclusion: There is a great amount of physics that one needs to be knowledgeable about before designing a roller coaster.
There are also many steps that need to be taken and many things to be considered such as location and having knowledge in multiple areas.
Designing a roller coaster is an expensive and intricate project but for the thrills and fun, its all worth it. Product: For my product I used 2x4's cut in 1 foot sections and then screwed together for the base of support.

Then used PVC piping as the actual supports.

The I used foam insulation tubing cut in half for the actual track. Errors: Because the materials that i used are very flexible, once i move supports around I do not get consistent results.

This means that when I move my model to another location it may not work the same as it had before. Works Cited: "Amusement Park Physics -- Roller Coaster." Learner.org. Web. 11 Oct. 2011
"Amusement Ride Safety: Regulation and Standards." IAAPA - The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. IAAPA. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
Harris, Tom. "HowStuffWorks "How Roller Coasters Work"" HowStuffWorks "Science" HowStuffWorks, Inc. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
"Roller Coaster." How Products are Made. Ed. Stacey L. Blachford. Gale Cengage, 2002. eNotes.com. 2006. 10 Oct, 2011
Sandy, Adam. "Roller Coaster History | History of Roller Coasters, Amusement Parks." Ultimate Rollercoaster - Roller Coasters, Theme Parks, Thrill Rides. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
"U.S. Injury Statistics for Amusement Rides & Devices." Welcome to Saferparks. Web. "Roller Coaster G-Forces." The Physics Classroom. Multimedia Studios, 2012. Web. 07 Feb. 2012.
Soden, Garrett. "Rise of the Gravity Bums." Defying Gravity: Land Divers, RollerCoasters, Gravity Bums, and the Human Obsession with Falling. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2005. 162-63. Print.
Mayntz, Melissa. "Roller Coaster Design." LoveToKnow. Love To Know, 2012. Web. 07 Feb. 2012.
Hoffman, Paul. "Roller Coaster Physics." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998. Web. 07 Feb. 2012.
Coker, Robert. "Laying Down the Tracks - Roller Coaster History." Roller Coasters: A Thrill-seeker's Guide to the Ultimate Scream Machines. New York: Main Stree, 2002. 13-23. Print.
Bloomfield, Louis. "Mechanical Things." How Everything Works: Making Physics out of the Ordinary. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007. 82-85. Print.
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