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The Kid Should See This

Every type of roller coaster, explained by a roller coaster engineer

Clear 20 minutes of your time for a comprehensive review of the types of roller coasters that designers and engineers have created around the globe. Start with wooden roller coasters and steel roller coasters, then blast off into a world of hyper coasters, giga coasters, strata coasters… and what’s a wild mouse?

In Engineer Explains Every Roller Coaster For Every Thrill from Wired’s A World of Difference series, The Gravity Group‘s Korey Kiepert describes the anatomy of a roller coaster, and explains how safety standards partner with boundary-pushing structural and mechanical engineering to create new rides.

giant coaster
side wheels
There are stories and novelties to consider, too. “When you’re designing a ride, you have to draw people into the ride. You want people to look at that ride and say, ‘I gotta give that a try,'” explains Kiepert.

And then there’s the physics…

Primarily, a roller coaster is made up of vertical G-forces, horizontal G-forces, that’s the side to side, and the longitudinal, or front to back G-forces.

So, 1G, that’s just me right now. I’m sitting here. I’m 1G. However, as I’m going over the hill, that crest, you might feel a what’s called the airtime. And airtime, those are the negative G-forces. That’s where I feel like I could be launched out of my seat. And then when you hit the valley, you’re pushed into your seat, and that’s a positive vertical G-force.

We’re putting a lot of twists and turns into our rides as well. We call that banking. We’re controlling the horizontal G-forces, or the side-to-side forces. And so sometimes you might just bank at 45 degrees, you know, and there might be other times where we try to be extreme and you have what are called overbanked turns. And that’s something where we go beyond 90 degrees. That’s another tool.

wild mouse

And so, now you can start combining some elements a little bit. And so, you might have a certain vertical G-force and horizontal G-force, and you can arrange them in such a way that eventually you can do an inversion.

And depending on the G-forces that you have as you’re going through this inversion, you can have something where you feel like you’re floating and we would call that like a zero-g roll.

What kind of roller coaster would you design?

different types of coasters
Follow this video with TED Ed’s How Do Roller Coasters Affect Your Body?

Plus two more roller coaster videos:
• Kings Dominion Front Seat POV Roller Coaster Rides
• Andrew Gatt’s DIY Paper Roller Coasters

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