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How Roller Coasters Work

Who doesn't love the heart-pounding, facts-paced thrills of a roller coaster ride? Half the fun of the ride comes from feeling like you're going to fly right out of your seat - so why don't you? Read on to learn why taking a ride in a crazy coaster is about as dangerous as knitting with your grandma.

Up, Up and Away

A motorized chain pulls the roller coaster to the top of the first hill (that's why you hear that click, click, click sound). The first hill is always the tallest one unless the coaster has more motorized chains later on (listen for more clicking), which means that the first hill has the largest large amount of gravitational potential energy. What's that? It's the amount of work an object will be able to do with the energy it builds up from falling. The energy the roller coaster builds up from falling down that first hill will be enough to take you all the way to the end of the ride!

Accelerating Adrenalin

Now that the roller coaster has made it to the top of the first hill, gravity takes over. When the roller coaster goes down the hill, it speeds up at a rate of 32.15 feet (9.8 meters) per second squared. As it accelerates down the hill, the potential energy gets converted to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is motion energy. Simply put, the energy changes from stored energy to moving energy. The weight of the roller coaster is pulled down by gravity (which means it's falling).

Newton's Law of Roller Coasters

Sir Isaac Newton (the dude who explained gravity) figured out the concept of inertia. No, inertia isn't a new game from EA, it's the law of physics that says that any object in motion will stay in motion until acted on by an equal but opposite force. When the roller coaster is at the bottom of the first hill, the kinetic energy is at it's biggest. Now that the coaster is whipping around loops and other hills, its energy is being lost to other forces like friction (energy created by two things being rubbed together) and air resistance. By the time the roller coaster gets to the end of the ride it has lost enough energy to come to a stop (usually with a little help from the brakes).

Courtesy of ExplainthatStuff

Please Stay Seated Until the End of the Ride

On some parts of this wild ride it feels like you're being pushed down, even though some of the time you're being pushed up. When you go down the hill the seatbelt or safety bars pull you down with the coaster. When you get to the bottom, you're still moving downwards but the coaster starts pushing you up again. The combination of these two forces holds you comfortably in your seat.

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Best Thing About Amusement Parks? Vote!

  • Going on rides 'til I puke.
  • Eating corn dogs and cotton candy 'til I puke.
  • Getting on a ride with puke inside it.

General In The Forums

Laura-Melina
Laura-Melina posted in Debating:
"simran88" wrote:   Also, why would the government and NASA lie about the shape if the earth? What would it give them?  They don't want you to know what's on the other side  [s:p/1fas]
reply 11 minutes
Laura-Melina
Laura-Melina posted in Random:
Enjoy your adult life then. I will miss you :-(  [s:p/1nus]
reply 33 minutes
simran88
simran88 posted in Debating:
"unicornsrule626" wrote: "Fire667" wrote: "unicornsrule626" wrote: I've already stated my opinion on this subject. I've proved through real evidence and facts that the earth is indeed flat.  Yes, it had indents and high elevation, such as mountains, but overall, it's flat. If you need an example, think of a pancake. The pancake itself is flat, but it can have bubbles (mountains) and indents (such as valleys).    I'm not here to try and change anyone's opinion, only to state my own. This isn't about opinions the earth is spherical and that's a fact. Countless evidence proves this and if you don't believe that evidence then you your self should leave your home and travel as far in one direction as you can go you will not meet a end. I said opinion so I didn't get attacked. I know the earth is flat. All the 'evidence' comes from NASA and the government, both of which have lied to us countless times. Just because the earth is flat doesn't mean there has to be an edge. Go drive to a beach or look up 'ocean' on google.  The horizon is flat and doesn't bend at all. How is that possible on a ball earth? Have you ever travelled in plane? The horizon is a little curved. So the reason you gave is obviously not true.  Also, why would the government and NASA lie about the shape if the earth? What would it give them? 
reply about 2 hours
brilliantstudent
6 DAYS TO GO ! 
reply about 3 hours
brilliantstudent
"Abbergrl" wrote: "brilliantstudent" wrote: It all looks so different when you look back ....... What do you mean by that though? @Abbergrl  well that's too deep so leave it ;D
reply about 3 hours