College Algebra Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch, as you’re entering your favorite amusement park, you hear the chain hills caring a cart full of people. Soon after the sound of the chains is replaced by people screaming as they go downhill at top speeds. Your stomach drops, the combination of fear, anxiety, and excitement build up more as you and your friends find a place to park in the maze of cars.
You finally find an available spot and go through the long process of actually getting into the amusement park. Due to the park barley opening you and your friends decide to go to the biggest ride in the park knowing that the more time you wait, he more the queue line will grow. While waiting in line, many thoughts race through your head. Can I do this? Why am I doing this? How did I get here? Before you know it you are at the front of the line waiting for the cart to come back into the station.
You get seated and strap yourself in, then the employees check to make sure that everything is good and you are sent off. The familiar sound of the chains come back, your cart is nearing the top of the two hundred fifty foot drop and like you had heard e chain is no replaced with screaming. You feel the gravity pulling you down, you hang on as hard as you can. The cart starts to go up the second hill and you feel the sensation of your body coming out of your seat known as air time. After all the roller coaster’s twists and turns you finally get to the brakes at the end. You catch your breath as you roll back into the station, you made it, and you survived. As you are getting out of the ride and back into the main park, your friends go back and forth with excitement about their favorite parts.
Though instead of sharing your most enjoyed moment of the ride, you start to think of the roller coaster, but not just the one you rode, all of them. You start to question everything about roller coasters such as who started them? Why did they start, but most importantly, you question the engineering. To know the answers about the engineering though, we have to take a step back several years to when they first started, then to how they transformed and got to the way they are today. So, without any further to do lets get into the history of the engineering in roller coasters.
Ozanu, R. , in (2008) American Coaster Enthusiasts Inc. , The name “roller coaster” comes from the term “Russian Mountains”. The inspiration for the modern roller coaster was a very simple ride that looked like a slide. According to Adam Sandy in Roller Coaster History How It Started (2006), during the 17th century, the Russian Mountains slides reached new heights across Russia in the form of ice slides. As the name suggests, these slides were frozen over with ice and riders were sent careening down the slippery slopes at tremendous speeds in leds made from wood or just plain blocks of ice.
The engineered design of the Russian ice slides were tall wooden structures with ice frozen over a long sloping ramp. These slides would often rise up seventy or eighty feet and the ramps stretched for hundreds more. The way the slide would stop riders was a large sand pile that would slow them down towards the end. Because of this and the entire design of these rides, many accidents happened. This influenced the engineers and creators to come up with a much safer design to be able to make the ride more enjoyable.
The ice slides of 17th century Russia would engender a desire for longer and more controlled rides among riders and engineers, while paving the way for the development of the earliest roller coasters. Over time, entrepreneurial Frenchmen took the ice slide idea back to France, but due to the weather, the ice that covered the slides began to melt. This forced them to come up with an alternative for the ice, and so they did. The people of France started to use wax instead of ice and eventually added wheels to the sleds.
In the year 1817, the Russes a Belleville (Russian Mountains of Belleville) became the first roller coaster where the train was attached to the track. In this case, the train axle fit into a carved groove. The French continued to expand on this idea, coming up with more complex track layouts, with multiple cars and all sorts of drops, twists and turns. All of these events mentioned above are just the ideas that sparked the wild fire known as roller coasters. Today, the engineering in roller coasters are far more advanced than just a wooden sled down a hill of ice.
As the years passed, technology advanced and so did the engineering. In more recent years, most roller coasters are made of steel which allows engineers to come up with a wide variety of new innovations and ideas. The world of roller coasters dramatically changed with the introduction of steel tracks in the 1950s. As the name suggests, these tracks consist of a pair of long steel tubes. These tubes are supported by a sturdy, lightweight superstructure made out of slightly larger steel tubes or beams.
With this new track came new track elements and new running systems. These pieces and systems included the famous loopthe-loop and the way to stop the ride at the end the brakes. The creation of the loop started around the 1970s. The invention of the loop changed the way people saw roller coasters because of the amount that goes on in a short piece of track. Throughout the looping track, several forces come into play. It’s almost as if gravity and the acceleration force were playing a game against each other trying to see which one can get you.
As explained in Tom Harris “How Roller Coasters Work” 9 August 2007, at the bottom of the loop both forces are pushing you in the same direction making you feel very heavy. As you start to move up the loop, gravity is holding you to your seat while the acceleration force is pushing you into the floor. Once you reach the top of the loop you are completely upside down. This is a very special moment in the loop. Because you’re completely upside down at this point, gravity and the acceleration force are pushing you in opposite directions.
This causes your body to feel very light and almost weightless for the brief moment that you are upside down. When coming back down you begin to feel heavy for the second time as the forces yet again push in the same direction. But what happens when you need to stop? This is when brakes come into play. Like any other train, roller coasters need a way to stop. Brakes are added in to stop the ride towards the end. While including the brakes, they are either added on the cart or the track. Stated in Engineers & Construction Videos, A common form of brakes now a days use strong natural magnets.
The way this works is by thin metal plates attached to the side of the carts that pass through several two strong natural metals layered on top of each other, almost as in a sandwich. All of these improvements were only possible due to engineers spending long and hard hours dedicated to finding new ways to improve these attractions. The challenges, ideas, creations, and innovations that every engineer faced while designing new roller coasters is what really intrigued me into perusing a career specifically in roller coaster engineering.
At a young age, I’ve always been really into roller coasters, but not just as any thrill speaker. I would simply enjoy the way they looked, the twist and turns, the sound of the carts roaring past breaking the still sound barrier, and most importantly the way they worked. Even as a young child I knew that math had to be used to come up with such creations, and I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be the behind the design of the latest coasters making everyone on them scream, laugh, and have a good time.
As I grew older I found out that it was engineers that were behind the creations I grew up to love. When looking into engineering though, showed by the Ohio University/News & Resources. “Amusement and Park and Roller Coaster Engineering”. Poster 06/15/2016, I found out that there were many kinds of engineers ranging from civil, electrical, mechanical, to roller coaster engineers. It is evident knowing its history and current information that I understand that mathematics, science, and technology will play a grand role in my future to come.