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Amusement Park Physics
Transcript of Amusement Park Physics
The teacup ride is an amusement park ride with a circular spinning base with (typically) 6 seats in the shape of teacups on it. Each teacup is on an individual rotating platform that is positioned on the larger circular base. The ride creates a very confusing sensation because both platforms rotate at the same time which disorientates and thrills the rider.
A carousel is a essentially a fancy merry go around, which is an amusement park ride that consists of a circular platform with seats that are usually wooden horses. The some horses tend to move up and down to simulate the feeling of galloping, while the ride rotates.
Image by Tom Mooring
Amusement Park Physics
Most circular amusement park rides have similar physics explanations because the laws of centripetal physics don't change. This means that all the circular physics that applies to this ride also applies to the next ride I will talk about (the carousel) and vice versa. Like I said in the previous slide there are 2 rotations happening on the ride that really create the thrill. One force acting on you that let's you enjoy the ride without flying off and dying is the centripetal force. A centripetal force is a force that acts towards the center of a circular path of motion, which in this case is the the teacup. Without this force your inertia (your tendency to persist in your original state of motion) would cause you to go flying off the ride (tangentially I might add). So at this point you have 2 centers that forces are keeping you drawn too: the force of the teacup keeping you on the small rotating platform, and that same force keeping you rotating in a different direction on the larger platform all while your inertia keeps you pressed against the walls of the cup. This already creates an overload of sensation, but let's throw one more force into the mix. Well, it's actually more of a fictional force. The centrifugal effect is the tendency of an object to move away from it's circular path. This is basically the fancy name of the inertia effect I just described.
Carousels aren't exactly thrill rides, but they do contain an aspect of centripetal motion. The horses closer to the center of the carousel are slower than the horses on the outside, creating different sensations depending on your placement on the ride. Why is this you ask? Well, it's mainly due to the fact that the ride is circular. The horses in the center and on the outside need to have the same time per revolution, however the horses on the outside need to travel a longer distance in a shorter period of time in order keep pace with the horse nearer to the center. This means that the horses on the outside move faster than those on the inside. So here's a little tip for you; if you get queasy on most amusement park rides, ride the carousel and pick the horse closest to the inside of the circle, because it will be moving the slowest!
Teacup Ride- The Physics