Busch Gardens hosts a "Launch into Physics" program several times each summer. Hosted by a Professor of Physics at Tidewater Community College, it offers a chance for students to experience the "science of thrills" on various rides. Accelerometers such as this one are mounted on a few rides. This g-force meter is a tube with a simple weight suspended below a spring. It measures vertical acceleration, not lateral acceleration. Sitting at rest in this picture, the ride is experiencing one-g of force, or the equivalent of 9.8 meters per second of acceleration. If riders are floating over the top of a hill, the weight would be at the blue line, or zero-g reference. The other red lines denote 2, 3 and 4-g's of acceleration. Most rides are limited to 3 or 4-g's as a higher force is uncomfortable. Because even greater forces would lead to riders becoming unconscious or suffering injury, rides are carefully designed and tested to ensure that the forces imposed on passengers are tolerable. During testing, sophisticated 3-dimensional recording accelerometers are used, not the simple spring and weight one shown here.
©2018 by Joel A. Rogers.