Roller Coasters and Geometry
Name: Marie Alyse
Country: United States
Date: May 2007
How can you relate geometry to a roller coaster?
There are many ways to relate geometry to roller coasters. The train
is moving at some initial velocity at the top of the lift hill, due to
the lift chain. The profile of the first hill is often parabolic to
match the projectile motion of the train. Valleys are often parts of
circles, as are turns. Vertical loops are clothoid in shape, usually
approximated by sections of hyperbolas, parabolas, and circles.
The structure itself uses geometry for proper bracing, structural load,
and in some cases, aesthetic design.
Nathan A. Unterman
Click here to return to the Engineering Archives
Update: June 2012