Coaster Dynamics: Roller Coaster Physics Trivia Quiz
Coaster Icon Roller Coaster Physics
Trivia Quiz

Test your knowledge of roller coasters and physics by taking this trivia quiz.


  1. The forces exerted on riders of roller coasters are usually expressed in units of G's. If a person weighs 150 lbf, what would the force be in lbf at the top of a loop if it is equal to -1.5 G's?

  2. The force exerted on a roller coaster rider traveling through a loop is called centripetal force. What is the difference between the centripetal force and centrifugal force?
  1. In a real roller coaster, the shape of vertical loops are never circles of constant radius. Why?

  2. The geometric shape used for loops in real roller coasters has a special name (it is not a circle or ellipse). What is it called?

Photo by Greg Sarkisian.

  1. If a roller coaster car were to roll over the top of a hill and then drop downward as if it were in free fall, what geometric shape would the path take?

  2. For a traditional, once-around loop roller coaster, with a single lift hill, where does the energy come from that powers the cars around the track? Where does the energy go?

  3. Roller coaster builders often brag about having the highest and steepest hills. If roller coaster A has a 300 ft high hill with a descent angle of 80°, and roller coaster B has a 310 ft high hill with an angle of 70°, which roller coaster will have the faster speed at the bottom of the hill?

  4. If measured from two fixed points on the track, one shortly before and one shortly after the top of a hill, when a train of roller coaster cars travels over the hill, which car will have the fastest average and maximum speeds -- the first or last car in the train?

  5. A new genre of roller coasters was introduced in the past decade featuring "linear induction motors" that "launch" roller coaster trains at extremely high acceleration rates (and at speeds up to 100 mph). For what purpose was linear induction motor technology originally developed?

  6. What is the name most frequently given to roller coasters throughout the history of amusement parks?

Most of the quiz answers can be found in the Coaster Dynamics Physics Primer and Coaster Lab Lessons.   If you are stumped... click here to learn the answers.

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