Please Explain: Roller Coasters

Friday, August 05, 2011

This week’s Please Explain is all about roller coasters—from the old classics like the Cyclone to the new wild rides like the Green Lantern! We're joined by two roller coaster experts: Jeffrey Rhoads, Associate Professor at Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering,  where he co-teaches a course in the physics of roller coasters, and Jacob Miller, PhD candidate at Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering (studying vibration), whose personal passion is the Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Ohio for its combination of "speed" and  "airtime."


Jacob Miller and Jeffrey Rhoads

Comments [12]

Capper from NYC

Cyclone Rocks....

Aug. 05 2011 02:00 PM
ann in Manhattan from NYC

Great thrill was at Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen. The roller coaster dropped steep and fast into a pitch black tunnel! WOWOWOW. Rode it probably 10 times because we loved the sensation so much.

Aug. 05 2011 01:59 PM

I agree with Amy from Ridgewood. If you love roller coasters, Kennywood is THE place to go!

Aug. 05 2011 01:58 PM
Amy from Manhattan

One of the guests said that for people with back problems, roller coaster rides can cause injuries if the track isn't well maintained. How can you find out for sure if the maintenance is up to standard?

Aug. 05 2011 01:56 PM
Harriet from West Village

From what I've been able to hear so far - and perhaps I've missed something? - questions that have been posed regarding the safety of roller coasters (such as questions RE: skeletal jarring) have been answered long these lines:

We haven't fully explored that area.

a) What about jarring of the brain against the bony cranium?

b) What about the elevation of (BP) Blood Pressure in both healthy and not-so-healthy riders?

c) What about the possibility that such movement can set-off seizure in children who are prone to them?

etc etc etc etc

I have not yet heard your guests addressing the possible - if not inevitable - ill-effects of roller coaster riding.

Aug. 05 2011 01:54 PM
KP from NJ

I still remember my first roller coaster ride when I was about 7...the wooden coaster at Palisades Park. It seemed so big to me. It probably wasn't as big as I remember....

Aug. 05 2011 01:54 PM
Liz from New York

This is going to sound strange, but I'm wondering what types of roller coasters are more likely to cause motion sickness. I ask because I have always loved roller coasters, but have developed motion sickness in recent years. I would hate to have to leave my riding days behind me.

I used to love nitro at great adventure!

Aug. 05 2011 01:51 PM
Amy from Ridgewood

I'm from Pittsburgh, and Kennywood has some GREAT old-fashioned (wooden) roller coasters that I've been riding since I was a kid. It's the original Thunderbolt, but there's also the Racer. My favorite, though, is the JACK RABBIT, where the double-dip lifts you out of your seat and you get that fantastic lift in your stomach!

(I am definitely NOT a fan of the new versions of roller coasters, which gives me a headache every time I try one, with the bumping back and forth of the head against that over-the-head harness.... there's nothing like the old wooden coasters.)

Aug. 05 2011 01:42 PM
Ben from Westfield, NJ

I was wondering what the experts' opinions were about the "Euthanasia Coaster", which aims to deliver 10g of force to passengers in order to induce blackout and calmly kill them.

Aug. 05 2011 01:40 PM
Paul from Yonkers

The Volcano at Kings Dominion in Virginia is far and away my favorite. The take off in the dark and then straight up exploding into the day light feet first is a real thrill. I love the hanging type where the cars swing from the track above the car. awesome.
It's just too short a ride.

Aug. 05 2011 01:34 PM
Elaine from Baltimore

How does the vibration affect the brain & other parts of the body like joints & spine?

Aug. 05 2011 01:33 PM
Jersey Jeff from Rahway, NJ

I'll give you New Yorkers credit. The Cyclone is the scariest, most exhilarating wooden roller coaster I've ever been on. The thing is so rickety you feel that the thing violates all of the NY State safety codes but when you pull into the station, you can't wait to ride it again.

Aug. 05 2011 01:27 PM

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