Physics Fun:     



               The Study of Mechanics, Energy, Force & Motion



There are two basic types of motion. Motion that is uniform and accelerated



For an object moving with uniform motion, the velocity remains in the same

direction and has constant magnitude (size). For uniform motion, forces are

balanced. There are no net or resulting forces. Under these conditions calculating

the velocity is straightforward. 


velocity = distance traveled       =    s or d

                   time of travel                t


This velocity is an average for the trip.


As soon as forces that do not cancel each other out act on an object, uniform motion

no longer takes place. Whenever an unbalanced force acts on an object an

acceleration is produced. Newton’s second law of motion expresses the relationship

among force, mass, and acceleration as F = ma.


        Force = mass x acceleration             or           acceleration = Force


The acceleration of an object increases as the amount of force causing the

acceleration increases. The larger the mass of the object, the larger the force 

needed to produce acceleration. 


Acceleration is the change in velocity over a period of time. (How fast something is

going faster.) This change can be in the speed (whether increasing or decreasing), in

the direction of the motion, or in both. 


            Acceleration = velocity / time                                        a = v / t 


Acceleration occurs anytime there is a change in velocity. For objects moving in a

curved path, velocity is changing even though speed may be constant. Velocity is a

vector and therefore must have speed and direction. If your direction is changing,

like on the Rotor, then there is acceleration toward the center of the Rotor. This

acceleration is called centripetal acceleration. 








centripetal acceleration =  (velocity)2  / divided by the radius


                                           ac  =  centripetal acceleration

                           ac = v2 /r                   v    =  velocity

                                                               r   =  radius of the circle 


In the case of an object spinning in a circle, the size of the velocity (speed) is

calculated by measuring the time for one complete spin and dividing this into

circumference of the circle. 


                           v  =   Circumference / time


If there is an acceleration, there must be an unbalanced force producing it. The force

causing the circular motion is called centripetal force (Fc). This force causes the

object to change direction, thereby creating the acceleration in the same direction

(toward the center). 


As stated previously; 


                                            F = ma


Newton’s Second Law of Motion must also apply to circular motion. 



Therefore:      Fc =  mac


If we substitute ( v2 / r) in for (ac), we find the equation needed to calculate

centripetal force. 


                              Fc = mv2 / r      



This force is easy to see and understand if you swing a rubber stopper on the end of

a string. You can see your hand is producing the force which is transferred through

the string to make the stopper follow the circular path. So your hand produces the

force, which causes the centripetal acceleration.




In the Rotor, the wall produces the centripetal force. This force keeps you moving in

a circular path by providing an acceleration on you toward the center. You, on the

other hand, have the impression that there is a force throwing you toward the wall.

This is very similar to being in an automobile at rest and the driver pushes the

accelerator to the floor. If the car has a lot of horsepower, you feel like you are being

pushed back in the seat. In reality, the seat is accelerating you forward. This “force”

you feel back against the seat does not really exist. It’s your inertia trying to keep

you at rest. The only force is the seat accelerating you. So, in the Rotor, the force

you feel out against the wall, called centrifugal force, is a fictitious force. You are

reacting to the wall pushing on you!



Generally speaking, you might think of centripetal force as an action force and

centrifugal force as a reaction force. Remember, centrifugal force is considered to be

fictitious. It can only be observed in the accelerated frame of reference.



These forces are also found on many other rides at Lake Compounce! Any ride which

moves in a circular or curved path will produce centripetal and centrifugal forces. 




 Earth Gravity and G - Forces


Gravity refers to the force of attraction between objects. All objects exert a

gravitational force. Any two objects with mass attract each other, and the strength

of this force depends on the mass of the objects and the distance between them. 

The larger or more massive the object, the greater the force.


Some forces can act from a distance without actual contact between the two objects.

We are accustomed to the gravity of Earth. When you are standing still the force

exerted on you by the Earth produces your weight. This is also referred to as one “g”. 

Gravity causes free-falling objects on the Earth to change their speeds at the rate of

9.8 m/s each second.  That is a change in speed of 32 ft/s in each consecutive

second.  Therefore, a “g” is a unit of acceleration equal to the acceleration caused by

gravity.  When you feel heavier than normal you are experiencing a force greater

then 1 g. When you feel lighter than normal you are experiences a force less than 

1 g. You are weightless when you feel no forces (free fall). 


On the roller coaster, when you go down a steep hill, you will get that “light stomach

feeling” and will notice yourself lifting off the seat. You have just experienced

weightlessness. Imagine the shuttle astronauts having this same feeling continually

for several days. This may give you an idea of why many astronauts have what is

known as space or motion sickness. While the shuttle is in orbit, it is falling. With

its tremendous horizontal velocity, as it falls the Earth curves away from it. So it

never hits the Earth, it falls in an orbit. 















G – Force Information:


Definition:                The ratio produced when the force felt by an object is 

                                divided by the force that the object would feel while 

                                motionless on the Earth’s surface.  




Examples of g- forces:


                                Shuttle in Orbit       0       g’s

                                The Moon                .165  g’s

                                Mars                       .38     g’s

                                Shuttle Lift Off      3.0       g’s

                                Sun                     28          g’s










Energy Transformations


There are many energy transformations that occur at Lake Compounce. 

The main energies used to make calculations involve gravitational potential energy

and kinetic energy. Potential energy is energy that is stored. Kinetic energy is

energy of motion. 



When an object is lifted from the ground or rest position it acquires potential energy.

The amount of energy can be expressed as:


                 Ep = mgh


                       where:       m =  mass (kg)

                                         g  =  acceleration due to gravity (m/s2)

                                         h  =  height above starting position (m)


                   Energy is measured in units called JOULES.


When the object drops, the potential energy that it has is changed to kinetic energy

as the object falls. At the bottom of its fall, the object is moving at its fastest velocity

which indicates it has its maximum kinetic energy. This kinetic energy can be

expressed as:


                  Ek = 1⁄2 mv2


                         where:      m = mass (kg)

                                         v = velocity (m/s)



Conversion of energy requires that the total potential at the top must be equal to the

total kinetic at the bottom. If you calculate the potential energy at the top and set it

equal to (1⁄2 mv2 )the maximum velocity at the bottom can be calculated.





Work & Power


Work is produced by a force acting on an object moving through a distance.


                 Work = Force x distance


                  W = Fd                where:                   W      =        work (joules)

                                                                           F      =        Force (newtons)

                                                                           d      =        distance (meters)



Notice the unit for work (joules) is the same as the units of energy. Energy is the

ability to do work. If work is done to lift an object, that work reappears as potential





Power is the rate of doing work, or how fast work is done.



                   work         W            Fd

Power =       time    =     t      =      t


                                               Where;                    P      =   power (watts)

                                                                              W     =   work (joules)

                                                                               t      =   time (seconds)


Power in watts can be converted to horsepower using the following 



                 1 hp = 746 watts












An Angle on Distance


To determine the height of a ride use a simple “protractor” elevation finder.






Have one student sight through the straw at the top of the ride.

Another student reads the angle on the protractor. The angle read 

is then subtracted from 90 degrees.







To calculate the height of the ride you will also need the distance between the

student and the ride.




(Remember to add the height of your eye to the ground.)








1. Cut out the protractor including the dashed line section.


2. Trace the protractor part only on a piece of cardboard, 

such as the back of a tablet.


3. Glue or staple the cardboard to the back of the paper protractor.


4. Roll the top section around a straw and tape.


5. Punch a hole and tie a 9 inch string of heavy black thread through

 the hole.  On the other end tie a metal nut, washer, or fish sinker.


6. Follow the directions on the page titled “An Angle on Distance.”


















 acceleration The rate at which velocity changes. This occurs if there is change in speed or  direction.


centrifugal force A reaction force to centripetal force, which you feel in a moving frame. This is a   fictitious force. When your body responds to an acceleration you think there is  a force pushing you back.


 centripetal force A force acting toward the center which makes objects turn. 


 circumference The distant around a circular object.


 diameter The distance across a circle through the center.


 force A push or pull.


 frame or reference Where you are when you make an observation. (eg. Earth frame or moving frame)


 friction A force which opposes motion between objects in contact.


 g force  A multiplication factor which compares a force to a person’s weight. (eg. 2 g’s   is twice your weight)


gravity A force of attraction between objects.


 horsepower A unit established for comparison to the power of a horse. (1 hp = 746 watts)


 inertia A property of matter which resists a change in its current state of motion.


 joule A unit of work and / or energy in the metric system


 kilogram A unit of mass in the metric system. (1000 grams)


 kinetic energy The energy of motion. The energy an object has due to its velocity.    KE = 1/2mv2 


  mass The amount of matter an object contains. Mass is unaffected by a change in gravity. 


  meter  The basic unit of length in the metric system.


  momentum  A measure of how lard it is to stop a moving object.   (mass x velocity)


 newton A unit of force in the metric system.


 parabola A curved path of an object moving at right angles to a gravitational field. 


 potential energy Stored energy. The energy an object has due to its position.


Gravitational potential energy  = weight  x  height


power The rate of doing work.   (P = work / time)


 projectile An object which has been given kinetic energy and is moving with no self propulsion.


 protractor A measuring device which  indicates angles in degrees.


 radius The distance from the center of a circle out to the edge. 


 watt The unit of power in the metric system. 1 watt = 1 joule / sec.


 weight The force with which an object is pulled toward the Earth; measurement of force of



 weightlessness A condition in which you feel no forces acting on you.


 work When a force acts on an object causing it to move through a distance. The amount of  energy gained by an object that’s moved is equal to the work needed to move it (no  friction).  Work = Force x distance


Reference Sheet: