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Roller Coaster Research Paper

1311 words - 6 pages

The first roller coasters were patented by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1885 (Wikipedia), but roller coasters existed long before their paten. Back in late sixteenth century Russia there was a sport known as ice sliding where one would start at the top of a 70-foot wooden structure and pummel down a 600 feet long track on one’s 2-foot-long sleigh (Throgmorton 10). Ice sliding was only available during the winter months, so in the warmer months the Russians would affix wheels to their sleighs so they could enjoy sliding year round. Then in the late eighteenth century a French traveler built a conveyer-like coaster by placing rollers on a wooden track so that riders could coast down the track, ...view middle of the document...

In 1959 the first theme park Disneyland was created and as well as the first roller coaster to use a tubular steel track called the Matterhorn Bobsleds (Wikipedia). Then in 1961 Six Flags opened in Arlington, TX (Throgmorton 33) using mostly steel tube tracks instead of the rickety wooden tracks. The steel tracks allowed designers to make coasters that could spiral and loop smoother and easier than they could with wooden tracks (Throgmorton 37). The first successful and non-painful looping coaster was developed by Arrow in 1975. Arrow found that the G-force could be lowered during a loop by using a tear-drop shaped loop and various radii of varying lengths (Throgmorton 37). After Arrow’s achievement, roller coasters are now only limited by their cost and not by their physics (Throgmorton 38).
A roller coaster’s popularity depends mainly on many different basic elements which are parts that are usually on roller coasters such as the headchopper, the launch track, and the lift hill. The headchopper is any place where the roller coaster overlaps itself or appears to come very close to the passenger’s heads. The launch track is a part of the coaster where the train is accelerated to its max speed within a few seconds and drastically increases the train’s kinetic energy. The lift hill is similar to the launch track by increasing the train’s potential energy by raising it to the roller coaster’s highest point. A roller coaster’s popularity also depends on several thrill elements that increase the thrill of the ride such as the cobra roll, diving loop, and the Heartline roll. The cobra roll consists of a half-vertical loop, then a corkscrew, then another corkscrew that merges into the bottom half of the initial loop in order to make the track resemble a cobra’s head. The diving loop is based on a stunt plane maneuver in that the track twists up and then quickly dives to the ground on a half-vertical loop. The Heartline roll happens when the passenger completes a full 360-degree roll. It’s called the Heartline roll because the passenger’s axis of rotation is quickly shifted from the rail to roughly the same point as where the passenger’s heart would be and then quickly back to the rail (Wikipedia). Roller coasters are ranked by the degree of basic and thrill elements on the track. Such as the Millennium Force at Cedar Point, OH which, as of 2010, is ranked as the #1 steel coaster in the world (Wikipedia). The Millennium Force consists of a lift hill, 300 foot drop, overbanked turns, 182 foot parabolic hill, Heartline, right-handed helix, several small airtime hills, and finally a brake run. It’s safe to say that the way roller coasters are now being built, that one day in the future they will be more awesome than ever before.
A roller coaster’s...

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