The Physics of Roller Coasters Essay

The Physics of Roller Coasters Essay

Length: 1493 words (4.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Physics of Roller Coasters

The roller coaster has its beginnings in Russia where during the 1600's. People crafted sleds out of wood and built hills made of ice blocks. The hills had sand at the bottom to help slow down the sleds so they would not crash when they reached the bottom of the hill.1 Over time, the roller coaster has become more complex. They now are taller, faster
and are designed out of different materials like wood and steel. Although roller coasters are fun and exciting, the questions, what allows them to twist and turn, go up and down hills at a fairly good speed? Why do they not fall off of the track when it goes through a loop? The answer to these questions and others about roller coasters lies in the application of basic physics principals. These principals include potential and kinetic energy, gravity, velocity, projectile motion, centripetal acceleration, friction, and inertia.

The basic design of a roller coaster consists of a train like coaster that starts out at the bottom of the tallest hill of the ride. The train is then pulled up the hill and is pulled to the top of the hill. As the train is pulled from the bottom of the hill to the top of it, the trains' potential energy is converted onto kinetic energy. Potential energy is defined as "the energy of an object at a height h above some zero level as equal to the work done by the force of gravity"2 (139). Kinetic energy is the energy of "an object . . . because of its motion"2 (132). As the distance between the ground and the train of cars increases, the potential energy of the train increases as well.
This increase in potential energy increases the amount of kinetic energy that can be released in the system therefore causes the system to be ...


... middle of paper ...


... depleted causing the train to come to a stop.

So, as you can see, roller coasters are an excellent example of the use of forces energy in a system and how they interact with one another to cause motion and to stop motion of objects. If these forces were not present, then we would have a very difficult time doing anything because there would be no way to start motion and if there was motion it would be very difficult to stop it.

Works Cited

1. Annenberg/CPB. “Roller Coaster History” Amusement Park Physics: What are the forces behind the fun?. Learner.org http://www.learner.org/exhibits/parkphysics/coaster2.html. . April 29, 2003.

2. Kirkpatrick, Larry D. and Gerald F. Wheeler. Physics: A World View. ed. 4. Harcourt College Publishers. Fort Worth. 2001.

3. Britannica Online. “Roller Coaster Physics. http://search.eb.com/coasters/physics/. May 1, 2003.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Physics Of Roller Coasters Essay

- The Physics of Roller Coasters The beginning of rollercoasters dates back to the 15th century in Russia, where the first coaster ride was simply created in the form of an ice slide. During the 1400’s, long and steep wooden structures were built to heights of 70 to 80 feet tall with ice frozen over the long and sloping ramp, see Figure 1 (Learner.org, 2016). Sledders would be mounted on an ice or wooden sled down a 50o drop platform with little support at tremendous speed. Ice slides were built parallel to each other, however facing opposite direction, allowing riders to travel back and forth (Learner.org, 2016)....   [tags: Potential energy, Energy, Force, Kinetic energy]

Powerful Essays
1007 words (2.9 pages)

The Physics of Roller Coasters Essay

- The Physics of Roller Coasters The roller coaster has its beginnings in Russia where during the 1600's. People crafted sleds out of wood and built hills made of ice blocks. The hills had sand at the bottom to help slow down the sleds so they would not crash when they reached the bottom of the hill.1 Over time, the roller coaster has become more complex. They now are taller, faster and are designed out of different materials like wood and steel. Although roller coasters are fun and exciting, the questions, what allows them to twist and turn, go up and down hills at a fairly good speed....   [tags: Physics Science Research]

Powerful Essays
1493 words (4.3 pages)

Physics of Roller Coasters Essay

- Roller coasters are driven almost entirely by inertial, gravitational and centripetal forces. Amusement parks keep building faster and more complex roller coasters, but the fundamental principles at work remain the same. A roller coaster is like train. It consists of a series of connected cars that move on tracks. But unlike a passenger train, a roller coaster has no engine or power source of its own. For most of the ride, a roller coaster is moved only by the forces of inertia and gravity....   [tags: Roller Coaster Theme Park Amusement]

Powerful Essays
1756 words (5 pages)

Essay about Pushing the Sensory Human Experience: The Physics of Roller Coasters

- ... But thankfully engineers were able to create a new design for the loop. This clothoid shape, or tear drop shaped loop, (See Appendix C) allows the train to safely invert riders. The key to the clothoid shape is the loop’s changing radius; “which controls the speed of the cars, varying it according to a scientific law known as the conservation of angular momentum.”(Claiborne) Stretching the circle into a teardrop shape allows multiple radii lengths throughout the loop. A large radius at the bottom of the loop allows the train to enter the loop slower and lessen the centrifugal force on riders....   [tags: closed circuit, potencial and kinetic energy]

Powerful Essays
1456 words (4.2 pages)

Roller Coaster Physics Essays

- The very first “roller coasters” were created in Russia in the 1600’s, and were nothing like the typical roller coaster that comes to mind today. People rode down steep ice slides on large sleds made from either wood or ice that were slowed with sand at the end of the ride. These sleds required skill to navigate down the slides, and accidents were frequent. A Frenchman tried to cash in on the popularity of the Russian ice slides by building one in France, but the warm climate quickly ended his attempts with ice....   [tags: physics roller coasters amusement theme park]

Powerful Essays
1832 words (5.2 pages)

The World Of Roller Coasters Essay

- Did you know that almost all roller coasters only rely on Earth’s gravity to get the cars down the track. Roller coasters are centered all on physics and I will hopefully teach you some things, big or small about them today. In this essay we will be exploring the world of roller coasters. Some of the topics we will cover will range from the history, to the principles that allow the cars to continue throughout the length of the track, and the general physics surrounding roller coasters. The history of roller coasters is a really cool one if you ask me....   [tags: Roller coaster, Steel roller coaster]

Powerful Essays
1944 words (5.6 pages)

Essay about Roller Coasters

- Roller Coasters Roller coasters have come to be one of American’s favorite pastimes. Amusement parks are more popular than ever thanks to the exciting, fast-pace, “scream machine” rides known as roller coasters. Though many people may not know, roller coasters are entirely based upon science, from the speed of the cars to the safety of the ride. For one to understand the thrills as well as fears one experiences on a roller coaster, one must first understand the most basic component of these rides, the physics....   [tags: Roller Coasters]

Powerful Essays
1676 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on The Physics of Roller Coaster

- i: Introduction You apprehensively walk up the iron steps and onto the platform. You’re reluctant to go any further, but your friend eggs you on, saying, “It’s not that fast.” You step into the seat and pull the harness down over you. No, this isn’t the latest, greatest technological frontier. It’s a roller coaster. Since 1804 when the first wheeled roller coaster- called “Les Montagnes Russes”- was constructed in Paris, France, roller coasters have been a staple of adventure and fantasy among children and children-at-heart....   [tags: Physics]

Powerful Essays
1556 words (4.4 pages)

The Roller Coaster Of Roller Coasters Essay

- People sometimes say that life is like a roller coaster, well that is kind of true because just like a rolling coaster life has its ups and downs and the thrill of being high above and the fear of fall down from the top. Roller coasters can give you a feeling like no other feeling in this world. While roller coasters gives the so much to the people there are bunch of physics that is involved in the making of roller coasters. Without physics and newton’s laws it will be very hard to make roller coaster since every loop or and drop replies forces and how much energy is distributed....   [tags: Classical mechanics, Force, Energy]

Powerful Essays
1117 words (3.2 pages)

Roller Coaster Physics Essay

- Undoubtedly roller coasters are the kings of amusements parks. Whether you enjoy a older, rickety wooden roller coaster with its thrill of positive and negative G's and a fairly wobbly feeling. Or, you prepher something newer, a tube steel roller coaster. A coaster that is faster, one that includes death defying speeds, hairpin turns, and of course the cr�me de la cr�me, loop de loops. However, regardless of you personal tastes and preferences, through exploring this page you will find that all roller coasters are indeed bound by the same fundamental laws....   [tags: physics amusement theme park]

Free Essays
1485 words (4.2 pages)