# How Roller Coasters Work

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```					How Roller Coasters Function

By Matthew Olszack and Ivan
Introduction
•   Amusement parks keep coming out
with faster and more complex roller
coasters every year. However, the
fundamental principles that function
in a roller coaster remain the same.
These principles include basic inertial,
gravitational and centripetal forces.
These forces are manipulated into the
roller coasters to create an
exhilarating roller coaster ride.
•   In this presentation we will go through
the various principles that keep roller
coasters twisting and turning around
the tracks.
Energy
• At first glance, a roller coaster looks something like a passenger
train. It consists of a series of connected cars that move on tracks.
What differs a passenger train from a roller coaster is that a
roller coaster is moved by forces such as inertia and gravity. A
passenger train is moved by an engine or a power source of its
own. Energy is also generated in a roller coaster by gravity.
Energy exertion occurs when the roller coaster is pulled up the
first hill (called the lift hill). The purpose of this initial energy is
to build up potential energy. Potential energy occurs as the
coaster gets higher in the air creating a greater distance for
gravity to pull it down. When the roller coaster descends, this
creates kinetic energy.
Up and Down the Tracks
•   According to Newton’s first law of
motion, an object in motion tends to
stay in motion; The roller coaster will
maintain a forward velocity even
when it is moving up the track as the
kinetic energy exceeds the
gravitational pull. When the coaster
proceeds up one of the smaller hills,
the energy changes from kinetic to
potential energy. The roller coasters
speed fluctuates throughout the ride
because of the constant change from
kinetic energy to potential energy.            The Pepsi Max Big One, at Black pool Pleasure
This makes the roller coaster ride so          Beach:
much fun.                                      This first hill drops the train 205 ft (62 m) at 74
mph (119 kph).
•   You might be wondering why in most
roller coaster the hills decrease. This is
because the energy that is built up in
the lift hill is eventually lost to friction
between the train and the track. When
the train comes to the end of the track
it has almost lost all of it’s energy.
Wooden Roller Coasters
•   Wooden roller coasters resemble the
Rolled on to a flat metal strip are the
wheels of the coaster. The strip is
bolted down to the track which is
made out of laminated wood. The
wheels of the coaster are very similar
to that of a train. A wide lip is
contained on the inner part of the lip.
This keeps the car from falling off the
side of the track. Underneath the
track runs another set of wheels, which
prevents the cars from flying off the
tracks.
•   With these materials designers create
The Giant Dipper at Santa Cruz         hills, twists, and turns in various
Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA:       directions. Not only that, they can
This classic wooden coaster was        even flip the train upside down.
built in 1924.                         However, this is rare in modern roller
coasters. The motion is mainly up and
down.
Tubular Steel Coasters
•   In the 1950’s, roller coasters designs
changed completely with the
introduction of tubular steel tracks.
Tubular steel tracks consist of a pair of
steel tubes. The wheels that sit right on
the track are made of nylon or
wheels that lay on the track, the cars
have wheels that run along the side
and the bottom of the tubes. All of
these wheels keep the car secured to
the track.
•   The train cars in tubular steel coasters
may rest on the track or attach to the      The Dragon Khan, a tubular steel roller
track. In a suspended coaster, the             coaster at Universal Studios Port
hanging trains swing form a pivoted                Aventura in Salou, Spain:
joint, adding an additional side to side    The 4,165 feet (1,269 meters) of track in
motion. In an inverted coaster, the           this coaster is twisted into several
hanging train is attached to the track,         loops, twists and corkscrews.
which gives the designer more control
over how the cars move.
Tubular Roller Coasters
cont.
• A tubular track is laid out with large curved segments unlike a
wooden track which is laid out in small pieces. In a tubular roller
coaster, the ride is smooth while in a wooden the ride is rough.
Each roller coaster has it's own distinctive character.

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 views: 18 posted: 6/17/2010 language: English pages: 8