The physics of roller coasters is very simple. Although it may appear to be very intricate and complicates, even the most amateur physicists are able to grasp it. The entire concept of the physics behind roller coasters is merely in the understanding of potential and kinetic energy. Along with understanding the two parts themselves, it is also quite necessary that you understand the relationship between them.
In the article "How Roller Coasters Work" Tom Harris says that the main purpose of the initial ascent of a Roller Coaster is to save up a ton of potential energy. Potential energy is sometimes called the energy of position, and the idea behind it is very elementary: the higher anything, for example a roller coaster, goes, the farther down it can be pulled by gravity. This occurrence is very common and happens multiple times in your daily life. You experience it while riding a bike or driving a car up a hill. The energy that you assemble can be let out as kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion.
When you move down the hill for the 1st time, all the built up potential energy turns into kinetic energy. Gravity is constantly pulling the cars downward with force.
At the top of the first hill, the roller coaster has as much potential energy as is possible because it cannot get any higher. This reservoir of potential energy is necessary and key in the later movement of the roller coaster. There is no kinetic energy at this point. As the roller coaster begins to travel downwards on the track it gains speed because the potential energy is changed into kinetic energy. Once the roller coaster reaches the bottom of the hill, it has the greatest amount of kinetic energy possible and a very small amount of potential energy. This abundance of kinetic energy is what propels the roller coaster up the 2nd hill which is constantly increasing the level of kinetic energy. As a roller coaster enters a loop on the track, it...