People sometimes engage in activities and are unaware that such activity involves physics. Physics is all around. For instance, you may go to Six Flags and do not analyze how physics helps the machines you ride in operate. Have you ever asked yourself how a roller coaster works? Would roller coasters safely run without the knowledge that physics offers us? The answer is no. Roller coasters are driven by physics; it mobilizes and gives its riders amusement through forces such as inertia, gravitation, and centripetal forces and utilizes different types of energies such as potential and kinetic energy.
Physics is what makes roller coasters safe and effective. It is not only the high speed of the trains ofa roller coaster that makes the ride so thrilling but the acceleration of the train and the occasional feeling of weightlessness. At various times, roller coasters, or more specifically the trains of these, undergo acceleration, which is defined as the rate of change in velocity. The change may be in speed (magnitude) or direction, or in both. Roller coasters accelerate when they speed up and make the ride faster, slow down, or change direction.
It decelerates as, for example, it ascends as if going up a hill. In this case, acceleration is dependent on its mass and the other forces acting on it. It is the acceleration of roller coasters what makes the ride more thrilling and exciting. When riding in a roller coaster a person may at some point feel weightlessness because they do not feel the chair they are sitting in as the roller coaster and yourself move vertically at 9. 8 m/sA2. Therefore, you encounter with Galileo and Newton’s principle of free fall, an object moving under the influence of gravity only.
Newton’s laws of motion state that the sum of the forces acting on free-falling objects, gravitation and its inertia, equals to zero. Because these forces add up to zero as gravity cancels out with the object’s inertia, then the rider while riding in an arched path, in form of for example a parabola, feels weightless. This free-fall also occurs when the roller coaster is up high in the air and abruptly drops and accelerates to the ground. It is due to gravity, the Earth’s pull, only and therefore, as Newton proposed, even though some people weight more than other, they accelerate at the same rate.
One of the most important and fascinating parts of a roller coaster ride are its curves. When going through a loop, the track of the roller coaster exerts a centripetal force. Centripetal force is a force that makes a body follow a curved path. If you ever wonder how you go through a loop in a roller coaster without falling off, one of the reasons for this is centripetal force which holds the riders in their seat. It is a force that pulls you in the direction of the center of a circle when traveling in a circular course.
Furthermore, roller coasters also have a relationship with inertia which also helps passengers stay in their seats and not fall off the train. Inertia is the property of things to resist any changes in motion. For example, if an object is still then it will not move unless a force acts on it, the esistance of moving is considered inertia. This force presses each individual to the outside of the loop as the train twists upside down. Gravity is still pulling you toward Earth but acceleration force is more powerful than gravity at the top which also pulls you but in the opposite direction, upwards.
Similarly, a moving roller coaster, as it is or force alters its speed or direction. The more mass the roller coaster has, the more inertia it has. Riders who frequently go to amusement parks and ride on roller coasters are usually astonished by the fact that these do not have engines. Immediately, riders nquire, how does it stay on tracks, what makes it remain in motion, why we do not fall when turned upside down? Initially, the train of a roller coaster is only pulled up the first hill by a motor but after such action, it must finish the ride by itself.
It is not a motor that is responsible for driving the roller coaster but rather the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy. The train gets the kinetic energy necessary for the entire ride from the first steep hill it goes down. Energy can never be created or destroyed, however, it is conserved through forces like gravity, which is known as conservation of energy. Kinetic and potential energy are the two most important types of energy that a roller coaster needs to function. Kinetic energy is energy of motion, the faster an object or something moves, the more kinetic energy it possesses.
On the other hand, potential energy is defined as energy of position or stored energy. The roller coaster utilizes potential energy, which is dependent of the mass of the train and the height, when the motor lifts it up the hill and then, this transfers to kinetic energy when the roller coaster suddenly drops, gaining speed. Therefore, the sum of kinetic and potential energy forms the mechanical energy of he roller coaster, energy which is occasionally lost throughout the ride due to friction. Potential energy is transferred into kinetic energy at the beginning of the ride as the roller coaster undergoes its first descent.
When the train of the roller coaster is at the peak of the hill, it possesses a lot of potential energy and much less kinetic energy because it is at a high altitude and moves slowly. Conversely, when it is at the bottom, it has a lot of kinetic energy and less potential energy because it moves faster and is closer to the ground. Roller coasters get some of the potential nergy lost to kinetic energy when it starts elevating itself again to the top of the hill. This is a continuous process that the train repeats until it comes to rest.
Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion also relate to roller coasters. Newton’s first law or the law of inertia states that if an object is at rest it will remain at rest, and if an object is in motion it will continue with constant speed in a straight line unless an external force is exerted upon it. In a roller coaster, the outside forces exerted on the train of the roller coaster are the brakes or frictional force, which makes it slow down r decelerate. Newton’s second law states the acceleration of an object depends on the mass of the object and the net force applied.
This is why when the train is going down a hill the speed is so high because of the amount of heavy mass the train carries such as the weight of each person. Therefore, it is said that F (force) = m (mass) * g (gravitational force). So the force that you encounter when going down the steep hill is equal to the mass of the train plus the mass of all the riders multiplied by the gravitational force, which is equal to 9. 8 m/s squared. Lastly, Newton’s third aw states that when one body applies a force to another body, the second body applies an equal and opposite force to the first body.
This theory in practice is when, for example, you go through a curve and you feel and think that the seat you are in is pushing you, but similarly, you also do the same to the seat because you apply an Furthermore, roller coasters also encounter frictional forces. Friction is defined as “a force that acts to resist the relative motion or attempted motion of objects or materials that are in contact”. Friction is why the train of a roller coaster reduces peed as goes through the tracks; it makes it harder for the train to roll.
This is why as you can observe in an amusement park, the biggest and highest hills of a roller coaster are put at the beginning of the ride and leave the smallest for last in order to keep the train moving. The frictional force of a roller coaster acts in direct opposition to the motion of it. There is friction in the wheels of the roller coaster, as it rubs with the tract it runs through, and in wind drag or air resistance and these are the reasons why mechanical energy, the sum of potential and kinetic energy, is dissolved s the ride continues, and even more at the end of the ride and affects its velocity.
If there were no friction then the roller coaster would keep going without stop. Roller coasters are one of the most popular and thrilling rides in an amusement park. During a roller coaster ride, many physics concepts are present that makes the ride so fascinating. Roller coasters undergo acceleration, they transform potential energy to kinetic energy, Newton’s laws of motion are put in practice, friction resists its motion and it utilizes gravity and inertia. In short, physics works roller coaster.