Roller Coasters: The Physics and History 102

The 1980s introduced many variations on the old designs, incorporating suspended coasters and stand-up coasters. One of the worst roller coaster accidents happened in the mid 1980s, which reminds us that accidents certainly do happen, but most rides are very safe and are tested repeatedly, and stricter standards are set especially after tragic accidents such as these.

Roller coasters began to grow higher and have steeper declines. Once popular train-type cars could no longer handle the sharp turns, so the coasters began using shorter cars for individuals to ride. The rides got wilder and more exciting, and even more growth for theme parks was experienced during the last years of the milennium. Theme parks continued to be successful, and more and more rides were introduced for fans to enjoy. Once they experienced one magic thrill, they needed to be taken to new heights and experience the adventure, just like an addiction for some. Magnetic coasters (LIMs, technically called linear induction magnets) and launch coasters became the craze. Coasters were able to speed to 50 and 60 miles per hour within just a few seconds. When first gaining popularity, many of the newer launch coasters using the electromagnets failed. Eventually, the technology would improve and the launch coasters still remain very popular, with far fewer problems than they had the first few years they were introduced.

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People sought thrills, and extreme coasters and gigacoasters were what people craved. Gravity is at work on the body during a roller coaster ride. This is referred to as g-force. Acceleration is also acting on the body. Coasters constantly change speeds/accelerations and angles, thus creating an exciting and pleasurable sensation for fans, and many feel as though they are “free” and especially weightless. Speeds on modern coasters can exceed 100 mph, drops can be more than 300 feet, and angles can be as sharp as 80 degrees for some rides. With all the new research and technology, even wooden roller coasters began coming “out of the woodwork” for riders to again enjoy.

Thrillseekers are able to anticipate a ride, and relax afterwards. This actually helps many people relieve stress and calm their mind. Excitement can be intense. Roller coaster enthusiasts will travel the world to find their next big thrill. There is a certain fear of the unknown that many like to conquer and experience. Getting away on a thrilling vacation is ideal for some, while it literally makes others sick. Some people do not like roller coasters for various reasons, one of which can be because they experience motion sickness. Still, hundreds of thousands of people truly enjoy these rides. It can make for long lines at any amusement parks, which most people don’t thoroughly enjoy, but the long lines only tend to add to the anticipation and thus satisfaction of the ride.

Coasters have a long history, and they continue to be popular, even with today’s economy. More parks are still building more coasters. Of course, some parks cannot maintain their operating costs, so they will shut down, but theme parks are certainly here to stay and will keep getting better and better for roller coaster enthusiasts! There are a huge number of parks to choose from around the entire world. Are you going to an amusement park this year?