Have you ever experienced a ride on a Tower of Terror II roller coasters located in Queensland, Australia and if so why do people get so exited about that? What is so fascinating about getting in and riding in a roller coaster? If you are a student who learn physics or who is interested on physics you may have heard the physics behind it from your teacher in school or your private tutor in Australia.
The excitement of a roller-coaster is also due to the unusual accelerations experienced during the ride, the amount of the centripetal acceleration acting on the rider is amazing, it produces apparent forces from weightlessness to increased weight and being thrown sideways. These accelerations have effects on the human body, depending on the direction in which they act. Mostly the value of acceleration changes in between 2g to 5g and it varies from one place to another. So what do we mean by the term ‘acceleration’?
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity over time. Normally the acceleration is the rate at which an object speeds up or slows down. However acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. It is measured in meters per second squared in SI units (m/s2).
Instead of the acceleration, which is the rate of increase of the velocity the rate of decrease of the velocity is called the deceleration as well as retardation. Other than these in Physics we talk about other type of acceleration which is called the centripetal acceleration which is caused by the change of the direction of the velocity through out a rotational motion and this is the acceleration we feel when we ride in a roller coaster. What is more important about centripetal acceleration is that it is always acting towards the centre of the circle which the body travels.
In basic physics, when a body of mass ‘m’ travels with an acceleration of ‘a’ it says that the net force acting on the body can be found by multiplying the mass of the body by its acceleration and it is one of the famous Newton’s law of the motion. Everybody knows that it is the most important equation where acceleration involves with.
So what is so fascinating about the acceleration? In our day to day life we always deal with acceleration. If you’re in a car, the velocity is the speed at which you’re going in a certain direction. As you accelerate you get pushed back into your seat. As you decelerate by breaking you get pulled forward. Another example people often discuss is the swing of a certain object, where the acceleration and deceleration are constantly changing like in a simple pendulum. Another example is a baseball thrown outwards, or a bullet fired. Neglecting the air resistance, they have a constant velocity forward and acceleration downward due to gravity. This is called the acceleration due to gravity as well.