Random AsidesScience

Roller Coaster Physics on the Coney Island Cyclone

Here’s a bit of goofiness for you: Wendy and I took a few rides on the Coney Island Cyclone, and filmed it for kicks. Around our third go, as we climbed in the front seat we decided we should make a video that served as a physics lesson. See, there are a lot of interesting things one can learn about physics by studying roller coasters, so it seemed like a natural fit. We, um, weren’t able to fit as much educational material in as we had hoped. So instead, first you can enjoy our ride on the Cyclone:

CNN’s iReport

and when you’re finished, go learn about physics with this cool roller coaster simulator:



Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

Related Articles


  1. I think it would have been an excellent demonstration of the fundamentals of mass and acceleration if Wendy had lost her grip on the camera :o) Aren’t you supposed to set down any loose objects before boarding?

  2. I think you should have ridden the Cyclone first. Worked out a script, and then recorded the second ride. Then you would have known at what points you could talk, and at what point the g-forces would be too great to concentrate.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy