Kingda Ka, the tallest roller coaster on Earth, drops its passengers a life-flashing 418 feet. Ferrari World's Formula Rossa, the fastest, literally takes riders' breath away at speeds of up to 150 mph. Though thrilling, these are phenomena of degree, not kind. BRC Imagination Arts, a Southern California design firm, has proposed something entirely new: a ride that creates the sensation of zero gravity for up to eight seconds at a time.
Our archives are filled with terrifying things -- flying tanks, radium faucets, and groundbreaking lobotomy techniques, to name a couple -- but few of them are as deliberately scary as the past century's amusement park rides and attractions. With names like The Wastebasket of Dizziness, The Ring of Death, and the Corkscrew of Fate, how could they not instill terror in even the most seasoned roller coaster enthusiasts?
The early 20th century saw the Golden Age of Roller Coasters, as well as the peak of Coney Island's popularity. As amusement parks flourished, so did our interest in thrill rides. How did engineers prevent roller coaster cars from toppling off the track? How did the Parachute Jump ensure soft, and not splattered, landings? And why would anybody want to roller skate down a loop-the-loop?
By Jonathan CoultonPosted 02.16.2007 at 1:45 pm 5 Comments
Of course you hope it never happens, but if you're going to escape from an exploding rocket just in time, you might as well have a good time doing it. NASA is looking at a few different options for how to get astronauts out of future spacecraft in an emergency, from roller coasters to slippery tubes, and most of them seem like pretty enjoyable rides.
The whole time I read this article in the magazine I was thinking space shuttle - boring! But I totally forgot about Project Constellation, the post-shuttle program to create a fleet of next-generation space craft for all sorts of crazy space missions. I spoke with Kelly Humphries at the Johnson Space Center about NASA's plans for the "Emergency Egress System," and he gave me the lowdown on some of the other features of the Constellation program. I was particularly jazzed about his description of the new and improved moon mission strategy. Believe me, when you actually live on the moon it's easy to get a little jaded about this stuff. But multiple space modules docking in Earth's orbit and then blasting out to the moon? Now I'm all excited about space again. Go space!
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Airplane-inspired amusement-park rides of the 1930s spawned some of todayâ€™s theme-park favorites
By Amanda MacmillanPosted 06.06.2005 at 4:00 pm 0 Comments
Devalued stocks, raging unemployment and weakened national pride plagued the 1930s, but PopSci escaped the Great Depression with a focus on fun inventions. A ride that “gives thrill seekers topsy-turvy sensations, comparable to those of looping the loop in a plane” graced our May 1934 cover, half a century after the roller coaster first appeared in American amusement parks. A giant steel arm swung this four-passenger car like a pendulum until momentum took over, hurling riders around a full loop.
Fighter pilots and racecar drivers deal with serious g-loads every day. But what exactly are they?
By Aimee CunninghamPosted 09.26.2004 at 9:00 pm 1 Comment
G-FORCE—WHAT IS IT? You’ve seen us mention g-forces in articles about new jet aircraft and cars?many times with reference to their being a very serious obstacle to overcome when developing ever faster technology. But what are they? Gravitational force is the force of gravity pulling you toward the Earth. When you undergo a change in speed and direction, that force increases in proportion to the rate of change. To calculate the magnitude of the force you feel as g’s increase, multiply your weight by the number of g’s.