Roller coasters provide beautiful examples of many physical phenomena, from the interplay between potential and kinetic energy and between the feeling of weightlessness while floating under or over the track in built-in parabolic flights and experience large forces from the ride in the twists and turns, from traditional lift-hills to hydraulic or LSM launches providing the energy for the ride.
Over the years, I have collected accelerometer data for a number of rollercoasters, and on the pages linked, I share graphs resulting from the data, in most cases with relevant photos connecting to the graphs.
My most detailed investigations have been at Liseberg, where I have for many years had the privilege of using the rides, including elements of the major roller coasters, for student projects, from middle school to university. I have also constructed student assignments for coasters at Gröna Lund, Tusenfryd and Tivoli gardens. The work has also resulted in a number of publications, most of them aimed at physics teachers. The links below are to collections of resources for the respective roller coaster (some are not yet translated from Swedish). I also plan a separate page focusing on specific roller coaster elements.
- Helix: (2014) 2 LSM launches, zero-g-rolls, top hat, Pretzel loop
- Kanonen: (2003), Hydraulic launch, Clothoid loop, Magetic brake
- Balder: (2003) Wooden roller coaster. Motion tracker data
- Lisebergbanan (1987) Classic, Schwarzkopf favourite.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
Launch, Norwegian Loop, Humpback, Corkscrew, Brakes , Energy losses
With a background in computational atomic physics, I continue to feel a special thrill when calculations agree with experimental data - and when there is disagreement, to try to improve calculations or measurements. I very much appreciate the cases where I have got access to data from the drawings, which make comparisons much more interesting. I often find that looking at the data shows me something I had not reflected on during previous rides in the coaster. My work reflects the view of "Physics as the art of systematic oversimplfication", and in most cases neclects the technical details necessary to make a coaster work, although I have tried to link more technical papers, when I find them. This page is under construction. Suggestions for additional links are always welcome.