How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 858

What do you feel g-forces when you ride on a roller coaster? - F
Whenever you accelerate, you feel a gravity-like sensation "pulling" you in the direction opposite your acceleration. What you feel isn't really a force—it's really just your own inertia trying to keep you going in a straight line at a constant speed. In other words, your inertia is trying to keep you from accelerating. For example, whenever you turn left in a roller coaster, your inertia opposes your leftward acceleration and you feel "pulled" toward the right. This "pull" of inertia is sometimes called a "fictitious force" but you should remember that it isn't a force at all, no matter how "real" it feels. Perhaps the most striking effect of acceleration occurs during your trip around a vertical loop-the-loop. When you are arcing around the top of the loop-the-loop, you are accelerating downward so quickly that you feel an enormous "fictitious force" upward. This "fictitious force" has a stronger effect on you than the real force of gravity, so you feel as though you are being pulled upward. The result is that you feel pressed into your seat, even though your seat is actually upside-down.

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