Sunday, September 27, 2015

Dangerous playground rides

After class when we discussed the dangerous, yet ever amusing, playground merry-go-round, I decided to look up the physics behind it and some videos of people "experimenting" with them. I found that when a person is using one of these merry-go-rounds and they achieve a high rotational velocity there is a tendency to send bodies flying in all directions. From what I have found, it appears that this happens when the riders lean back away from the center. The person is no longer only accelerating toward the center of rotation, they are now accelerating outward because they are moving away from the center of rotation. This is coupled with the velocity, which is tangential to the centripetal acceleration, and the rider is sent flying through the air. This happens because there is a large force outward at this point because F=ma and the person is accelerating outward so the force (which is directly proportional) is now outward and the person goes soaring.

Here is a video, demonstrating this effect in a real life scenario:

Please do not try this at home.

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