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Free «The mechanism behind a roller-coaster» Essay Sample

A roller coaster can be defined as a popular form of amusement ride, which is usually developed for the sake of amusement park. It is a balance between safety and sensation, the rider is assured of safety and also given the sensation of speed and acceleration and it all comes down to speed control.

It is called a coaster because once it starts it coasts through the entire track and most of the roller coasters do not require any outside force. The roller coaster is composed of a track that rises in designed patterns, some of the loops are vertical that make the rider stay in an upside down position. Most roller coasters have many cars in which different passengers sit and are restrained (Scott, 2000).

A roller coaster usually does not have any power or engine of its own, the train is moved by gravity and momentum for most of the ride. In order to build up this momentum, the train has to get to the top of the first hill, also known as the “lift hill”, and to obtain this the roller coaster has all of the below.



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The chain lift

This is the most commonly used lifting mechanism, whereby there is a long length of chain running up the hill under the train, it is usually fastened to looped systems that tend to be around a coaster gear, which is placed on top of the track hill and other gears at the bottom of the coaster hill. The simple motor moves the bottom gear of the hill. This turns make the chain loop to continually rotate or move to the highest point of the hill. The roller coaster is rounded onto the roller chain with many chain dogs, hence sturdy hinged hooks around the system. As the train rollers moves to the bottom level of the hill, dogs are linked onto the chain rollers. When the chain dogs are properly hooked, the linked chain easily pulls the coaster train to the highest point of the hill before going back. This makes the chain dogs finally released, hence, the train starts moving down the hill (Jayashree, 2011).

Catapult-launch lift

This is mostly used in newer designed roller coasters to help the roller coaster train’s motion up the hill. This type of lift starts a train off whereby it tends to build a substantial level of kinetic energy within a short time as opposed to potential energy. Some catapult systems use dozens of circular wheels to start the train in a hilly area. The wheels tend to be arranged in two systematic rows within a track. The wheels tend to grip the top (or bottom) of a train between the rows, this pushes the train toward the intended point (Robert, 2002). Like any other train, a roller coaster has a braking system that helps it stop at the end of the ride or in case of an emergency. The brakes are built to the tracks rather than the train itself. Series of clamps are placed at the end point of the coaster track and maintained at other subsequent braking points. A central computer system known as hydraulic system helps to close the clamps, hence, the train makes many over stops (Steven, 2002).The clamps then are closed with vertical metal fins based under train and the smooth friction eventually slows the coaster train down.

The roller coaster uses two terms in physics, the first one is a scientific force or energy known as potential energy which enables the coaster roller to move e up the hill from point A to point B, hence, more potential energy is acquired as the machine moves up the hill and the kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion, is greater when the roller coaster is at the bottom of a hill.

The roller coaster generally depends on the conversion of these two energies from one form to another as it moves up and down the hills.

At the highest point of the first lift hill labeled (a), potential energy is at its highest or maximum point since the coaster train is at the highest point. As the train starts down the hill, this potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, which leads the train to move with high speeds upwards. At the lowest point or the bottom part of the hill, kinetic energy is at its maximum and potential energy is low. At this point kinetic energy makes the coaster train moves upwards to the second hill, increasing amount of potential-energy level. At this time the train enters various loops, because it contains high level of kinetic energy and small amount of potential energy. The potential energy increases as the train moves with high speeds to the topmost of the loop, hence potential energy is quickly converted into kinetic energy as the coaster train leaves various loops.

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When the roller coaster loop is well designed, the coaster riders may not easily sense when they are moving upside down. This movement is done effectively by ensuring that force exerted on the coaster rider is the same as that weight of the coaster riders’ car.

The loop

The car will stay on the track as long as the centripetal acceleration applied by the track is equal to or greater than the acceleration of gravity. In order to apply enough centripetal acceleration to be greater than gravity the roller coaster car will either be moving at highest speed or its radius (loop) will be reduced to make it travel at a faster rate.

So, mostly the roller coasters relay heavily on two major forces which are converted as the object move from one point to another. At the first point or hill the force of potential energy is at its highest level, which makes the roller coaster  move easily from one particular point to another, but on the other hand this force is gradually reduced by frictional force through its movement. In most cases the coasters are designed with air brakes, which enable it to make a stop at the end of a ride, hence, the second hill is not as tall as the first one to cater for the lost potential energy due to friction (Tom, 2011). In most cases the coaster roller are designed with air brakes which enable it to make a stop at the end of a ride and technological roller coasters consist of mechanisms that start on a ride with the maximum speed or increased level of acceleration, which means that one of linear induction or series of Motors system and some Linear synchronous, known as Motors linear system, powered by pneumatic force.

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The coaster system rolls back when a launched coaster train does not accumulate enough potential energy which is required to ascend the train until the top of the first subsequent peaks. This makes the train roller move downward to the original started point for re-launch. Under the roll back the train comes back to the original launching place for re-launch.

 The above two forces have some impacts on our body when they oppose each other. The scientist have discovered that during the ride these forces make our body weight change simultaneously as we ride from one point to another, until we reach a point we feel weightless, due to the balance of potential and kinetic energy or forces.


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