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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ABC Wed "R for Roller Coaster"



Do you like Roller Coasters?

For many people, there is only one reason to go to an amusement park: the roller coaster. Some people call it the "scream machine," with good reason. The history of this ride reflects a constant search for greater and more death-defying thrills.

What you may not realize as you're cruising down the track at 60 miles an hour is that the coaster has no engine. The car is pulled to the top of the first hill at the beginning of the ride, but after that the coaster must complete the ride on its own. You aren't being propelled around the track by a motor or pulled by a hitch. The conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy is what drives the roller coaster, and all of the kinetic energy you need for the ride is present once the coaster descends the first hill.

Once you're underway, different types of wheels help keep the ride smooth. Running wheels guide the coaster on the track. Friction wheels control lateral motion (movement to either side of the track). A final set of wheels keeps the coaster on the track even if it's inverted. Compressed air brakes stop the car as the ride ends.

14 comments:

Andrea said...

Oh, I remember as a teenager getting off the Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia and running back to get in line over and over again. Now, I have grown up and have sense enough not get on the thing. Great "R" post.

mrsnesbitt said...

This afternoon I experimented in the kitchen. I made a desert..............which I ate too much of because it was so yummy! Now I have read this graphic report I feel a bit green around the gills! LOL!

Jean M Fogle said...

I love rollercoasters but havent been on one in years, My Rs are finally up!

dot said...

This is a great picture! No, I don't want to get on one of those things ever again! Once was enough. I would never have thought Andrea would ride one. lol

dot said...

Once was enough for me! I really like your picture. Very clear and I've not seen another roller coaster yet today.

Annie said...

I never knew about the different wheels but I am certainly appreciative that there are several to serve all these purposes!

rosemary said...

Happy Thanksgiving Lilli...you and Nevada have a quiet, good eatin' day.

Hin Man said...

a lovely post with a lot of physics that I have not thought about. Thank you for sharing the knowledge with roller coasters.

Lynette said...

I only managed to ride a roller coaster one time that I wasn't scared witless--when a guy I had a crush on sat close and held me tight!

Mike said...

I love roller coasters. Nice picture and very informative write up.

AVCR8TEUR said...

When I was younger, I didn't mind riding roller coasters, but the interest is gone now. I noticed that you like reading Dean Koontz books too. That is where I get my heart-stopping thrills. Happy Thanksgiving!

Kerri said...

I'm with the last commenter...when I was younger....but not anymore.
However my kids love them....and I get nervous even when they ride them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Suzi-k said...

eeesh, with my propensity for motion sickness, it is purely out of consideration for my fellow human beings that i will never ride one, but they are fun to watch, and the info re energy/wheels is interesting. Does the number of passengers effect the speed of the ride, i would imagine there would be less momentum and therefore less thrills if the ride was almost empty?

TorAa said...

I used to love roller coasters - but after going in the largest one in Michigan Adventure - 65 mph and one mile long - it's done. I'm too old. LOL: