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We’ve all seen the “cyclotron” ride at an amusement park…and some of us have had the opportunity to puke after this ride at an amusement park.  (Or just puke watching the video).

When I show this awful video to my students…what is the first question that arises?  How do these people defy gravity?  Don’t look for the answer from the amusement park guide because they will be sure to lie to you with an imaginary force called centrifugal force.  Think about it on your own…so my answer to my student’s question is not the solution but their own question back at them…how do they defy gravity?  What do we need to know?

  • Their mass?
  • The speed of rotation?
  • The circumference?
  • The radius?
  • The maximum mass of the people?

Actually all we need to know is that people can withstand an average acceleration of 2.5g (2.5 times the acceleration of gravity) and not get hurt.  So let me know the coefficient of friction that needs to be on the walls.  Oh, and why does a fat man and a skinny kid not make any difference here? 

Enjoy the challenge…and keep a paper bag nearby.

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