THE SIMPLE ROLLER COASTER
The acceleration can be demonstrated experimentally using the
roller coaster simulator or HotWheels track. If a long enough
section is made horizontal, it can be shown that the average
velocities calculated at the beginning and at the end of the
horizontal section are equal. Form the track in the shape shown
below. Roll a marble or steel bearing down the track. It will
accelerate along the drop and move at a constant velocity along the
horizontal section and slow down as it climbs up the opposite side.
When the marble slows down and speeds up on the hills it is visually
obvious. What is not so visually obvious is what happens along the
horizontal section of the track. The ball's constant velocity can be
shown mathematically. Divide the horizontal section of the track into
2 sections. Calculate the average velocity of the ball along these
two sections. If done accurately, the velocities will be nearly
equal. To obtain more accurate results, use fairly long sections of
horizontal track. The longer the sections of track, the greater the
time measurement. Longer time measurements mean lower percent
Along the horizontal section of the track, ignoring the minimal
effects of friction, there are no forces acting on the ball
horizontally. Therefore the ball moves at a constant velocity while
no force acts on it. This is Galileo's law of inertia!!!
Here is another example of an illustration of Galileo's experiment.
The ball continues until it reaches the starting height.
If you use or find this page useful or have any comments, please contact the author so maybe he'll do more. Author: Tony Wayne
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