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The irresistible roller coaster

by Test about a month ago in Historical
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Talk about science, digging cold knowledge

Not many children will refuse an amusement park because there is excitement and joy there that they do not experience in their daily lives. There are all kinds of rides in the amusement park, including bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, and a carousel, but the one that stands at the top of the pyramid must be the roller coaster.

Why? Because the roller coaster has a very high speed to bring audio-visual stimulation, and strong changes in the acceleration to bring physiological stimulation, diving, rapid rotation, and rolling these originally should be identified by us as dangerous space movement but instead gave us a great thrill.

In principle, we are experiencing huge physiological stimulation, the state of fear triggers a war flee response, the body will release hormones such as adrenaline and norepinephrine, and then the heart rate increases, shortness of breath, and other reactions, relevant research has found that about one in ten people in the process of experiencing roller coasters the maximum heart rate is even higher than the formula estimates the limit of psychological.

These reactions may not be pleasant, but when our reason realizes that we are not dangerous, the brain will secrete two substances to respond, one is to play a calming effect of endorphins, and the other is to provide pleasure dopamine

Riding a roller coaster is an intriguing thing, from the human body's point of view, it brings a sense of fear on the one hand, on the other hand, it produces a sense of pleasure, seemingly contradictory, but like a shadow.

The same as the shadow of the dual properties of the roller coaster, both to be exciting enough to attract tourists, but also to be safe enough to run stable.

Whether or not they have sat, probably everyone who knows about roller coasters is curious and even questions whether it will fly off the track, if the image may have been in the brain in just a few seconds over a variety of images such as in the movie "Death Comes to Town".

Roller coaster accidents are not rare, serious non-death or injury, minor can also be a false alarm. Just a short time ago, on May 9, Suzhou Land Forest World's "Rebirth from Above" roller coaster came to an emergency stop and about 20 visitors were trapped at high altitude because the high temperature triggered the equipment safety sensors, and the emergency stop was instead to ensure the safety of visitors.

Fortunately, within 20 minutes of the emergency stop, maintenance personnel manually opened the safety pressure bar, guiding visitors from the safety channel back to the ground, no one was injured.

Of course, this is only a small episode in the roller coaster operation, but from the history of roller coaster development, some accidents may not be so mild.

If one traces the nature of roller coasters back to their roots, i.e., the sensory experience of gaining speed by gravity to provide high-speed excitement, its earliest origin would be the wooden ramp skating popular in Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Participants ascended to the heights of wooden ramps, some as high as 21 meters, and then rode a simple sled down the ice-covered ramp to enjoy the thrilling experience of gravity and high speed.

This primitive roller coaster has almost no safety measures, only the end of the ramp is used to slow down the sand pile. It is generally believed that the French developed this style of play after that time, but because the climate in France was not cold enough, they added wheels to the sled.

However, the roller coaster in today's amusement parks may still originate from the railroads in the U.S. In the early 19th century, someone developed a new way to play with coal cars, these railroads run by gravity, transporting coal in the morning, and in the afternoon turned into entertainment for visitors.

Half a century later the American Lamarcus Adner Thompson invented a gravity-powered roller coaster, but it is still mainly sightseeing, tourists facing the side of the track ride, the ups and downs of the slide to enjoy the man-made landscape on the road, is a literal "roller coaster".

Later, people gradually found that the roller coaster ride during the sense of speed, up and down and the weightlessness and super weight alternating wonderful feeling is far more interesting than the view, the real sense of the modern roller coaster is considered to appear.

Early roller coasters are wooden, the body of the car running on a track similar to the traditional railway track, the design of the wheels is also a lineage, the inner wheel edge and the side of the track contact, to play a horizontal limiting effect, but in the vertical direction there is no restraint.

Therefore, the early wooden roller coaster patterns are limited to the track up and down undulation and steering brought about by the weightlessness and the sense of being overweight, unreasonable design or running too fast will also occur derailment accidents.

In addition, the track support built by wood is said to produce a certain deformation in the process of riding, bringing an irreplaceable subtle experience, For some enthusiasts on this site, there are still a certain number of wooden roller coasters are still in operation.

In the 1920s, roller coaster designers designed a third track for powering the vehicles to increase the speed of operation and provide a more exciting experience, and also opened the speed control to visitors.

This seemingly advanced attempt was soon played by roller coaster fanatics, who recklessly pursued faster and more exciting, resulting in many derailments. And the power supply of the third track also electrocuted many roller coasters and maintenance workers.

In 1915, on New York Coney Island, "roller riders" roller coaster because passengers manipulate the speed of the vehicle too fast, in the sharp turn of the overturned derailment, six passengers in three people were thrown out on the spot and died, the other three people were also injured.

Today we can often see the roller coaster loop structure also appeared in the early 19th century, but because of the limitations of the track structure, running vehicles need to pass at a higher speed to maintain stable contact with the track, so the size of the loop can only be designed very small.

The "Loop the Loop" coaster opened in 1901 was the world's second loop coaster, which used a circular track with a non-fixed curvature to reduce the G-force generated.

At that time, the seats of the roller coaster were not equipped with seat belts, so the trackside also has a protective net to prevent passengers from falling. However, the most fatal is due to the existence of a small loop, the vehicle must also be designed to be very small, a single can only accommodate 4 people, technical success can not make up for the commercial failure, and the project was declared closed after 9 years of operation.

Another dangerous part of the roller coaster is the climb before the start, which is the long process of brewing a sense of fear. The roller coaster climbs using a chain in the track, which is driven by an electric motor.

The problem is not in the forward, but in the backward, once the climbing process is accidental, the vehicle may slide backward from the steep slope, and there is a possibility of serious collisions.

The solution was to add a non-reverse safety structure to the coaster, which made the safety of the coaster greatly improved, and the disturbing mechanical sound issued during the climbing process came from this structure. Its inventor is John Miller, considered to be the most important figure in the development of roller coasters, in addition to his more than 100 roller coaster-related patents.

However, there are times when mechanical structures fail, and in 1997, such an accident occurred at Bell Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. The park's Wildcat roller coaster failed due to a stop-reverse structure, and the vehicle slid backward before climbing to the top of the slope and hitting another vehicle at the bottom of the slope, killing a 14-year-old boy who was thrown from the collision and ultimately injuring six other people.

Another far-reaching improvement to the roller coaster project was the tubular steel track pioneered by Disneyland in the 1950s, and the wheels changed dramatically from the original steel wheels to nylon or polyurethane, and also added lateral and bottom wheels that could securely keep the vehicle moves only in the direction of the track.

This improvement not only greatly improved the safety of the roller coaster, but also greatly improved the playability of the coaster, the original wooden traditional track of the coaster can only provide up and down, sharp turns, loops, and other experiences, while the new style of tubular steel track can also provide spiral, inverted, larger and more loops.

Even the way to ride also appeared a lot of novel changes, passengers can be located above, on both sides of the track, or below, and even the posture of the ride can also be changed.

Today's roller coaster from a technical point of view has been safe enough, but there are still passenger injuries and fatalities, there are two reasons for this, the first is negligence in maintenance and testing, which is usually the cause of major mechanical failure.

In 1986, the West Edmonton Mall amusement park Dreamworld roller coaster derailed due to missing bolts in the wheel assembly, killing three passengers and injuring 15 others.

In 1999, the roller coaster in Ocean City, New Jersey replacement of the wrong brake and caused an accident, the vehicle's backward high-speed movement of the sharp turn threw a mother and daughter, and later died, and eventually, the failure of the vehicle hit another car causing two people injured.

In 2007, Osaka, Japan's Wanbo Memorial Park amusement park roller coaster derailment due to a broken axle, the vehicle tilted to the left resulting in a female passenger's head hitting the iron fence killed instantly, and 21 other passengers were injured.

In 2019, a roller coaster accident occurred at an amusement park in Mexico City, Mexico, where the carriage derailed from a curve during operation and fell from a height of about 10 meters, killing two men who were thrown out of the car, after an investigation the roller coaster involved was quite old and had been in use for decades, during which it changed hands several times.

Another reason is that passengers do not comply with safety regulations, such as overage and overweight, concealing relevant medical history, etc.

But in general, the accident rate of modern roller coasters is very low, about one in tens of millions, and the death rate is as low as one in 750 million, far less than the probability of being struck by lightning (about one in a million).

If you love roller coasters, then choose a regular amusement park to enjoy, but pay attention to the condition of your body, do not hurt your body for the sake of excitement. If you are not interested in it, there is no need to take the well to sing its praises, after all, we can not predict whether they will ride the roller coaster of life.


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Comments (3)

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  • Lubos Pokrivcakabout a month ago

    Nice read, I do like to try new roller coasters from time to time. Accidents don't scare me much, cause as you wrote, the accident rate is really low.

  • Julie Ciccoabout a month ago

    I love roller coasters, especially the wooden ones!!

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