A(Magnet) Parks?

By: Haley and Colleen (Period 3)
You're waiting in line for your favorite roller coaster. There are butterflies in your stomach as you see the coaster launch from its pad at an incredible speed. This phenomena is possible because of...MAGNETS!

So, if you're wondering how physics impacts your entire trip, here's how scientists are keeping you safe.


The negative and positive poles of the magnets start together to keep the train in place. Since opposite poles attract, this helps to keep the train stationary. To start the train, one of the magnets are swtiched to become negative, so that there are two same-pole magnets which cause a large repulsion, forcing the coaster forward. These magnets are so strong, that sometimes, hypercoasters can reach up to 100mph at the beginning of their journey.

The cart is able to accelerate extremely quickly because of its electromagnets.

The Flight of Fear roller coaster takes off at incredible speeds because of its electromagnets.


MagneMotion technology is utilized on some coasters to keep the train running at top speeds as it coasts up and down the track. The system works by sending a signal to the central motor and control system to find the exact position of the cart, to determine its exact location where magnets should be placed to keep the cart moving on the track. Linear Induction Motor technology, (or LIM) uses electromagnets to transfer electricity into the motor to power the car. Hydraulics, also uses this same electromagnetic technology. These hydrolic and LIM systems are used on Magic Mountain's Superman coaster. Hydraulics are also used to keep body locks over riders during "flight." The safety belt-like equipment surrounding your chest, neck and head, are all being kept in place by strong electromagnetic attraction inside the coaster cart. So when you're flying upside down like superman, you won't have to ACTUALLY don a cape and fly.

(Look to time 45 seconds to see how the magnetic safety locks if the chain of the cart breaks)

(Also look to time 2:33 to see the magnetic breaking of the roller coaster)
The use of electricity and magnets are greatly essential to the creation and safety of roller coasters.


DID YOU KNOW...that 80% of all breaks are electromagnetic? There are three parts to this breaking system. The field, armature, and hub. Electricity triggers the breaks to essentially 'close' and create a compression using two extraordinarily strong like-poled magnets. Since these two magnets attract, it allows for the coaster, soaring at high speeds, to immediately be slowed into a halt at the end of the ride. Imagine the magnets like the strongest super glue you've ever seen before. It is virtually impossible (unless the electricity, and, the backup system fail) for these magnets to become detached. This is why this is considered one of the most advanced, and safe breaking systems.

(Look to time 1:43 to see how the magnetic breaking affects this rollercoaster.)
Millenium Force roller coaster at Cedar Point.

Below is a picture of an electromagnetic break...

As you can see, there are many parts of these electromagnets that contribute to keeping you safe when slowing from speeds upward of 100mph, to a complete stop.
Conclusion: So the next time you're standing in the waiting line for the Raging Bull, you'll be safely assured your trip will go smoothly. The electromagnets will do their job, and keep you "on the right track." The principles of physics are doing their best to keep you from falling out of your seat upside down. The attractions and repulsions of these magnets are so strong, its no wonder engineers chose their properties as amongst the strongest, and most probable candidates for roller coaster dynamics.

AND, if you're dying to learn more-check out this link: http://www.ogura-clutch.com/products/industrial/howtheywork/electromagnetic-brake.html

Works Cited:
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"How Are Magnets Used in Roller Coasters?" wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2011.
"Machines!: Rollercoaster : Video : Science Channel." Science Channel: Space, Technology, Engineering, Earth Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar.
Nater, Darth. " California Screamin'!!! Video by Darth Nater - Myspace Video ."Myspace | Social Entertainment. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2011.
"New Roller Coasters Are Faster and Safer - ABC News."ABCNews.com: Breaking News, Politics, World News, Good Morning America, Exclusive Interviews - ABC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2011.
Wlwttv. "YouTube - Flight of Fear Launch." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2011.