Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Questions about roller coaster physics

  1. Dec 11, 2003 #1
    Hello, I'v lately been intrigued by roller coasters as of late (notice my prior post about that app)

    I havnt been able to find any good websites to explain the physics of roller coasters in detail. I know of-coarse that it works on conservation of energy, that the initial potential energy is converted into kinetic at the bottom of hills and back into potential at tops. But there has got to be more, how does change in the direction (z-plane?) change the physics?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2003 #2
    I think [tex]m\vec{a}=\sum_i \vec{F}_i[/tex] pretty much sums it all up. It's just classical mechanics: write down all the forces and plug it into Newton.
     
  4. Dec 12, 2003 #3

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If you mean the g-forces, It really doesn't. The only thing that affects is friction, which is pretty low anyway (wind is probably the biggest component). So except for friction loss, you can use conservation of energy to calculate the speed of a roller coaster anywhere on the track.
     
  5. Dec 12, 2003 #4

    turin

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    In the limit of negligible friction, a roller coaster is quite classical. The more detailed questions would be better adressed in an engineering context than a physics context: i.e. what's the best way to get the thing started, where should we put the twists and turns, how often do we need to include repeaters and where...
     
  6. Dec 12, 2003 #5
    This is the basic equation to go from a top of a hill to a bottom.

    [tex]\frac{1}{2}mv^2 - f \Delta S = mgh[/tex]

    But how would one find the velocity around a loop? It's late and my mind is weak. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2003
  7. Dec 12, 2003 #6

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The velocity of the cart at any distance h below its starting height is

    [tex]\sqrt{2 g h}[/tex]

    - Warren
     
  8. Nov 12, 2007 #7
    I have a research paper on the the physics behind roller coasters. Can you direct me to any library resources? What level of math would one need to accomplish the construction? How does math created a stable ride?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Questions about roller coaster physics
  1. Roller Coaster physics (Replies: 5)

  2. Roller Coaster Physics (Replies: 8)

Loading...