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 is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  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.

  3. too bad the buzzkills commenting on the video itself couldn’t seem to enjoy the video for what it was

  4. Cool! I haven’t ridden the Cyclone in over 30 years. It’s the same as I remember it. Did you get a Nathan’s hot dog and fries to complete the protocol?

    Thanks for the memories.

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