Friday, June 13, 2014

In the Hands of Engineers

We all drive and ride in cars every day of our lives. We live in houses and work in buildings engineered to withstand our weight, movements, weather and all the stuff we put inside. Every structure is designed with thousands of years of historical, scientific and mathematical intelligence behind it. So a recent trip to another form of Architectural Genius led me to question, "Why am I so sore?" 

I left Hershey Park my body in pain and my voice gone, which forced me to think about what is happening to our bodies at Amusement Parks? I recalled a thought I shared dismounting 'The Great Bear' ride after a second go-around of the Roller Coasters. "I'm so sore I feel like I've been through a heavyweight fight." Though I've never fought a heavyweight or been in a professional wrestling match, I imagine every muscle being sore, every tendon tight and my insides wrenching; exactly the way I felt exiting "the sweetest place on Earth."

G-Forces are thought of as Gravitational Forces that act upon one's body during high speeds. In actuality it is not gravity alone, but the conglomeration of one's own mass and acceleration, interacting with gravity leading to a G-Force. You sit in the Roller Coaster. You weight 150lbs. The Coaster travels 75MPH at its peak speed when diving straight down toward the ground, but the G-Force is greatest at the bottom of that drop where an up-curve swings the Coaster & your body upward, sending you through a violent angle, pulling every muscle and organ in your body through Forces that Astronauts experience in Space Exploration Training. Fun right.

Well not all fun. Eventually your body gets sore from all the G-Forces. I started feeling it after about 15 to 20 coaster rides; a little wooziness, a slight head ache and soreness all over. The people I was with began to notice my veins popping out of my arms and head. And my voice was lowered 1 or 2 octaves than normal due to my yelling & screaming. Another fun part of riding the roller coasters is you can scream at the top of your lungs and no one cares. I'm not really terrified for my life, but it's fun to pretend. It's also cathardic to scream so loud it hurts.

Like any physical activity you can build up a tolerance to the G-Forces. I guess if I bought season passes and went once or twice a week I'd experience more euphoria riding the giant mechanical bulls of Hershey Park? Not so much. Not my kind of high. But still a good time. One last thing. You're more likely to die on a roller coaster at the boardwalk or a small-scale park than on Large-Scale theme/amusement park rides. All are inspected regularly by law, but not all rides are created equally. Malfunctions are more likely to occur at the beginning and ends of park seasons due to weathering, usage and normal wear. Let's face it, the odds of dying on a roller coaster are astronomical (1 in 300 million), but things go wrong. Machines malfunction and things break. Not trying to scare anyone, but use your head when putting your safety know.

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