• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16

The physics involved with a rollercoaster.

Extracts from this document...


Introduction As part of my physics investigation into the physics involved with a rollercoaster I was given the privilege to see some live rollercoaster's at work in Thorpe Park. Although at the end I chose a ride which was not a strictly a rollercoaster; however it did have some key aspects and physics of a normal rollercoaster. I decided to investigate two rides; these were the 'Detonator' and the 'Tidal wave'. Out of the two I decided to base my investigation on the 'Tidal wave'. This ride had more key aspects of physics involved and seemed more plausible for such an investigation in order to gain a stimulus, development and a detailed/analysed conclusion and evaluation. The physics principles of roller coasters haven't changed much since the original roller coasters. "Most coaster physics comes from Isaac Newton's law of motion. Roller-coaster designs rely on the acceleration caused by forces to make a roller coaster ride both thrilling and safe." (According to the Hyper coaster) The most important factor in designing roller coasters is how to balance out these forces. For example, a large up-force may cause you to faint because your heart can not pump enough blood to your head so balancing the forces is key. Roller-coasters are a small car lifted or driven to the highest point of the track. When set free it starts rolling down under the force of gravity, and then goes up and down along a fantastically curved line, giving the occupants a thrill by the sudden changes in velocity. To design a good and safe roller coaster requires a lot of physics principles, such as acceleration (the rate of change in speed or direction), velocity (ratio of change in position to time interval of which change takes place), free fall (the acceleration =9.8m/s/s), projectile (motion of objects given initial velocity that then move only under force of gravity), mass (the amount of material an object contains), gravitation (the force of attraction that every object in the universe has ...read more.


Gravitational Energy Gravity forces accumulate only when the coaster is climbing. As it speeds downhill, the pull of gravity is actually reduced, producing "negative gravity," or a feeling of weightlessness. Weight is the pull of gravity. Typical weight units are pounds(British system) and Newton's(metric system). On the earth, neglecting air resistance and other forces, all objects will speed up at a rate of 9.8m/s every second they fall. That is a speed increase of about 22mph every second it falls. "Many amusement park rides generate the weightless sensation by acceleration down at 22mph every second." (According to Weightlessness) "On a roller coaster we go no lower than 0.2 g . This is enough to give people the thrill of being airborne but, in a worst-case scenario, keeps them in the car if the laps bars or seat belts fail." said Summers. (According to Ticket to Ride, p.79) Any time an object experiences an external force equal to the force of gravity, it is said to be in a "one g" environment. If a car whose weight on the Earth is 100lb was moved to a 2g environment it experiences 200 lbs of external force. In a 9g environment its Fext = 900lbs, so in a 0.2g environment then its Fext = 20lbs. When the car at the bottom of the loop the gravity force is smaller than the normal force, this cause a feel in 2g environment. When the car at the top of the loop, both gravity force and normal force are downward and the normal force is smaller than the gravity force, so this cause a feel of weightlessness. (see diagram below) However, no matter what happens to its external forces of the car's mass would never change. Mass is unaffected by the pull of gravity. One of the biggest thrills on a roller coaster is the free fall when the rider experiences while travelling over a hill. ...read more.


This is Galileo's law of inertia!!! Tidal Wave - how does the ride stop? The ride is forced to stop using a braking system and the water at the bottom is also used as a stopping force. For the first few metres the ride speeds up, but for the remainder of its travel through the water it has a steady speed due the drag of the water. However, before this can happen the braking system needs to come into effect. To break the force of the engine must be equal to the force of air resistance which tends to slow the car down. These two horizontal forces are balanced, just as the two vertical forces (weight and contact force) are balanced. Future developments: The Tidal Wave as a ride is thrillingly satisfying and this is only due to the great height and acceleration. This is in turn provides the rider with a great feeling of weightlessness. However if the owners of the ride want to improve this, they should ensure that the Tidal Wave has more hills and slopes to make the ride more thrilling and worthwhile because at the moment the ride has one slope and the feeling of weightlessness is very short and at the end of the ride the rider expects to be very, very wet! However I cannot suggest anymore improvements because the ride is a 'log' ride and only needs slopes and hills to generate a greater kinetic energy and increase acceleration. One problem that could arise is a safety problem. The train has no seatbelts or a safety function to make sure the rider will stay put in the train, therefore I suggest that they add waist bands to the carriage to prevent young children with smaller mass from actually falling out. Although this has not happened, and the engineers have carefully calculated out the physic involved in preventing this, but I think this would be a safer thing to do. It will also generate some physiological safety, juts like rollercoaster's with shoulder pads. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Mechanics & Radioactivity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Mechanics & Radioactivity essays

  1. Determination of the acceleration due to gravity (g) by free fall.

    t2 (s) t3 (s) ta (s) Average Time Period t 2/ s2 0.3 0.2273 0.2221 0.2226 0.2226 0.0495 0.4 0.2614 0.2615 0.2615 0.2614 0.0683 0.5 0.2979 0.2979 0.2972 0.2975 0.0885 0.6 0.3307 0.3311 0.3316 0.3311 0.1096 0.7 0.3601 0.3602 0.3617 0.3605 0.1299 0.8 0.3867 0.3976 0.3895 0.3897 0.1518 0.9 0.4144 0.4149 0.4147 0.4146 0.1718 1.0 0.4375

  2. Experiment to find the acceleration due to gravity using free fall.

    We see that the graph is almost a straight line showing that my initial prediction was correct in that the time squared had a positive correlation with the distance travelled. Let us presume now that we do not know that g is 9.8m/s/s and work it out based upon data on the graph.

  1. SHM: determining acceleration due to gravity

    the body since the period of a system is depends only on the force constant of the spring and the mass of the body.

  2. Investigating Force, Mass and Acceleration using a Trolley

    be wasted as the result of extending the string and According to Hooke's law force is directly proportional to the extension of the string which means as the tension on the string doubles, the extension will also doubles, therefore the wasted force will doubles.

  1. Objectives: To determine the center of gravity of a body of irregular shapes

    Firstly, we assume that there is no air movement during the experiment. If there is air movement, it will cause the board to move. It results in the incorrect position marked of intersection points on the paper and hence incorrect center of gravity marked on the paper.

  2. To determine the acceleration of gravity in a free fall experiment.

    You would imagine that the readings for one height would be the same, yet this only happened once, all the other readings were different.

  1. Physic lab report - study the simple harmonic motion (SHM) of a simple pendulum ...

    Take readings by using the apparatus in the following procedures: (a) Student holding the white foam board (Student A) (i) Hold the white foam board behind the set up so that the movement of the spring system is not disturbed by any other backgrounds.

  2. Investigate free-falling objects and projectile motions.

    0= opposite/ hypotenuse = b/mg Therefore b= sin 0* mg Cos 0= adjacent/hypotenuse = a/mg Therefore a=Cos0*mg To see if this calculation is correct, I'm going to use pythagorus theroem and the knowledge of the car's mass: 0.0655, and the angle of the elevation: 7.6 (Mg*cosa) + (mg*sinb) = (mg)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work