Physicists Reveal The Science Behind Water Slides

Observed by riders as they step into Aqualoop and wait for its trapdoor to open from 17 meters above Caribbean Bay water park, some have been known to hesitate. An exciting loop of water and a vertical drop envelops park-goers before melting into a pool below. It’s a great way to beat the summer heat.

Caribbean Bay will open again as the seasons settle in with its most exciting and famous water slides, including Boomerang Tower, Mega Storm, and Aqualoop. What’s the most effective way to keep riders from flying off the cliff on these slides, with all the twists, turns, and sudden drops? Physics has everything to do with it.

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Water Slides Come in Many Types:

Various water slides are available, with twisting, turning tube rides and near-vertical drops among them.

The entry flume on speed slides is a long pool at the bottom that slows riders gradually as they plummet down the slope. The process of sliding down a sled is similar, usually with bumps and dips and often on a raft. It is easy to understand the physics behind both slide designs since both move the rider in a straight line.

A serpentine slide, such as Mega Storm, involves a continuous descent with curves and sharp turns. Combining these types of rides creates a thrill ride like Tower Boomerang Go or Aqualoop.

Nature’s Forces:

Summer is not complete without water slides. What does it take for them to work? This wet and wild ride is possible due to an interaction between gravity, friction, and inertia forces.

Gravity:

 A water slide’s staircase allows potential energy to be built up, which is then converted into kinetic energy once you start down the slide. A slide’s angle determines the amount of force it applies against gravity. As your angle steepens, your force against gravity becomes lower, and you fall faster. This central force is the driving force behind speed slides and sled slides.

Friction:

 Keeping your body, or your raft, from slipping, is essential to moving quickly. Generally, water park slides are constructed from fiberglass segments tightly bonded together for a seamless fit. Water is then driven from the bottom to the top through a pump, allowing a constant stream of water to flow over the floor for a frictionless, speedy ride.

Inertia:

 Potential energy is put to use in a variety of ways by different types of water slides. The inertia of the body is reduced on curves. The body wants to keep moving forward when speeding toward a curve. If you’re going to slide off the edge, it must curve up. Slides accelerate you as you approach turns, causing your forward velocity to change.

Water slides differ somewhat from one another in how they work; however, gravity, friction, and inertia are fundamental to each. The ride is fast and smooth because water reduces friction caused by gravity pulling passengers down.

It is essential to consider inertia on rides with many curves. You resist changes to your movement when moving at high speeds, including changes in speed or direction. Despite all the effort you put into going straight, your body wants to go in a straight line, which is why water slides often have curved walls.

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