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Real World Physics Problems Newsletter - Amusement Parks, Issue #09
July 16, 2014

# Amusement Parks

http://www.real-world-physics-problems.com/images/frisbee_ride.jpg

Source: Wikipedia via SpinSpider

If you want to observe the laws of physics and have fun doing it there is no better place than an amusement park. Not only can you see the physics taking place, but you can also experience the physics taking place, while sitting on the ride.

I am currently working on an amusement park physics page and all I can say is, wow, there is so much out there. All amusement park rides are based on classical mechanics since they all deal with forces, energy, and Newton's laws, but the sheer number of different rides that exist is what makes this such a huge undertaking. If you want to see all the rides that are available check out this list of amusement park rides. No doubt it will take me a while to go through it all, but in my efforts so far I did gain some interesting insights about amusement park rides in general.

All rides cause you to experience acceleration by way of the rides' motion. It is the magnitude and direction of this acceleration that causes you to experience a certain amount of g-force (as is commonly called) as you sit on the ride. A g-force of "1" is your body weight. A g-force of "2" is twice your body weight, and so on. Naturally, the higher the g-force the more "pressure" your body feels. Ride designers want the riders to have as much fun as possible without generating excessive g-force, which can be dangerous. One way to do this is by making the radius of turns, such as on roller coasters, large enough to keep the g-force, caused by centripetal acceleration, within a reasonable range. Another way is to make different parts of the rides turn in opposite directions. For example, in the Zamperla balloon ride shown below, the main wheel spins in the direction opposite to the direction of precession.