Pushing the Sensory Human Experience: The Physics of Roller Coasters

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The anticipation renders you to become eager. After waiting in line, the rollercoaster cannot seem to get to the peak quick enough. The train clicks and clack's as it slowly ascends to the summit. The sun makes your hands sweaty from tightly holding on to the single lap bar that keeps you in your seat... and on that thought the adrenaline pumps through your blood. Suddenly your body flings forward as you plummet down the first drop, and then you're being forced down on the cart’s seat as you arch the bottom of the transition to going up the second hill. Wind whips in your face and, the pressure of your lap bar surprises you when you realize your body has left the seat, quickly being pulled back down into place as the earth approaches you.…show more content…
(For explaining the basics of roller coasters, I will use a simplistic track layout as seen in appendix A.) The first part of a roller coaster must be the work of a constant force, this work, or the chain lift in appendix A, allows the train to reach its highest potential energy, as the train ascends the first hill, the potential energy is changed to kinetic energy, the highest point of kinetic energy is at the bottom of the hill, and as soon as the train starts to ascend again the kinetic energy is switched back to potential energy (Cutnell & Johnson 162-165) as it climbs the next hill. This process continues for the rest of the drops in the rollercoaster. Now according to Newton’s first law of motion, “an object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an outside force” the body should stay in the motion of the direction of the train, but because of restraints and a change in direction of the tracks (outside force), the body is secured in the train. This feeling, also known as airtime, gives the sensation of flying out of the cart. “Airtime hills” are specially designed to give the sensation, most air time hills are narrower at the top of the hill, causing for a quicker and dramatic change in direction, flinging the body out of the seat, pressing it back down by the force of restraints giving

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