Roller Coasters

Fun in Physics since 1884

History of roller coasters:

The beginning of the idea of roller coasters may surprise you. Originated from Russia during the 17th and 18th centuries, the idea of the ride was a giant wooden slide covered in ice that people would ride down on makeshift sleds into a giant pile of sand. The idea of "ice slides" were later evolved by Frenchmen turning the slide into a more complex track, and modifying the sleds. On June 16, 1844, Lamarcus Tompson opened Switchback Railway, located at Coney Island, in Brooklyn New York. This was the first amusement ride in America that kicked off the amusement park craze. a simple roller coaster uses potential and kinetic energy to move, now there are catapult methods, and even virtual reality roller coasters.
Cool video on the physics of a hydraulic roller coaster

This is made by a YouTube channel known as SciShow (click to show video)

The balanced and unbalaced forces

At point 'A' both forces are balanced, there is still some potential but the cart is speeding up and gaining kinetic energy. At point 'B' There is almost no potential energy and the cart has reached its fastest speed with the most kinetic energy. When the cart reaches point 'C' the cart has reached its most potential energy because of the amount of gravity acting on the cart, and the kinetic energy level has decreased quickly since point 'B'. (This picture does not show the entire coaster so there could have been higher levels of potential or kinetic energy.)

Balanced and unbalanced forces:

There are many unbalanced forces throughout my roller coaster due to the many loops that are incorporated into the ride. Much of that being the constant acceleration of the ride between the loops. The constant change of motion kept the riders exited and the fear-o-meter up.

though most of the ride having a constant change in speed and direction, there was a stretch of the ride that had a constant speed and had no change in direction. That was when the track went through the mountain to the other side of the coaster. (shown in picture.)


Roller coaster:

Switchback Railway info:

Hydraulic coaster video:

(All other photos are copyright free clipart or pictures taken from the activity.)