• January 6, 2011
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I apologize for not being able to get the word out on this exhibit, as I only found out about it on its last weekend. It closed on Sunday, January 2nd. Matthew and I visited the exhibit at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley on Saturday, January 1st. This traveling exhibit on the science of roller coasters was designed and built by the Ontario Science Centre. It is the same exhibit that ACE visited at the San José Tech Museum a few years back.

Features of the exhibit included a dozen models that compared the forces on roller coasters that were set up with rubber track and balls. The models showed how a clothoid loop is more comfortable than a circular loop or how to design a roller coaster for better momentum and acceleration. A fenced off play area let attendees build their own roller coaster by putting together hills, curves, and loops. A vortex tunnel exhibit (Tunnel Vision), a strobe light exhibit, and a roller coaster simulator (similar to the one at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach’s Roller Coaster Rampage) were in the second exhibit hall. Matthew took the 32-question quiz to find out his thrill seeker rating. Over the quiz the sign read, “Psychologists say it’s more than just the urge to wear Day-Glo clothing and yell ‘whoo’ at the top of their lungs. It’s a fundamental part of their personality.” Yep. The best was the large model roller coaster named the Black Plague. It ran every three minutes with a whirlpool loop after the hill, two corkscrews, and two additional inversions. I hope that this traveling exhibit will return to the Bay Area soon.

— Emi Pearce