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Q & A: Physics at Amusement Parks

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
I am doing a presentaatiion for my Physics class and need info on what physics are related to Amusement park rides ie. roller-coasters,water rides etc. Thanks
- Becky (age 17)
Crestwood s.s., peterborough Ont. Canada
Amusement park rides use several concepts from physics. The roller coasters and water rides lift you up and then drop you down so that you move fast. The lifting you up part gives you potential energy and the droping you down part changes that potential energy into kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is energy of motion.

All rides use Newton's Laws. One law says that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion unless pushed by something else. Imagine a loop on a roller coaster. Your body wants to move forward but the roller coaster train is trying to move up. The seat pushes us in a new direction. But then the train is moving up some more, so we get pushed into the seat more. That's why we feel stuck to the seat when we go through a loop or a turn.

Water rides also use the physics of collisions. When the boat hits the water, the boat slows down and water gets thrown all over (including on the riders).


(published on 10/22/2007)

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