Friday, July 15, 2011


The day we had all been waiting for arrived earlier than usual this morning. Our physics class piled on the bus to Hershey Park at 8:00 AM (an hour early) in order to maximize our time on the coasters. We arrived at around 10 and Mary and Bill handed out the accelerometers and video cameras (that came in the ultra-stylish fanny packs and vests) that we would need to take data on our roller coaster.
It turned out that even though the ride our group chose (the sooperdooperLooper) was not the most popular, it was a great one to choose to collect data for because—as the name suggests—there were a couple of very exciting loops in the tracks and the line was practically non-existent. We finished the two runs of data taking that we needed by about 11:30. We peeked at the accelerometer reading before saving our data and the graphs were pretty incredible. The video we took from the front car must also be pretty cool. I am exited to bring the readings back to the lab and make some sense out of all of it. We turned our high-tech devices back into Bill and Mary and we had the rest of the day (or at least the next four hours) to explore the park and ride as many rides as possible in that time.

Of course the first one Brian and I rode was the most popular ride in the park because it is clearly the most thrilling. It takes you straight up vertical tracks and the drops you into a series of high speed loops and tumbles. The line took almost an hour, but it was definitely the most thrilling ride in the park and I'm glad we waited.

Some other fun rides we went on included a coaster that brought us from zero to 60 in some ridiculously small amount of time and a wooden coaster where two carts raced on separate tracks (Alex's won). I also got a wicked half-face face paint that I fortunately got after the splash drop ride where we all got completely soaked. I felt very lucky for remembering to bring a change of clothes. A bus ride home looking like this would not have been comfortable.
All the spikes in adrenaline got me so tired I couldn't stay awake on the bus ride home. When we arrived at the quad, we grabbed a quick dinner and then I went out to see the movie Terrible Bosses with one of the Friday movie groups. Again, it was slightly immature but quite entertaining. The whole night, people would stare at me and I was very confused for a while until I remembered that my face paint was still on and looked rather strange outside of the amusement park.
Tomorrow, the excitement continues with a trip to Washington, DC.

Hershey Park

Today was the day I have been looking forward to this entire last week. Through some mistake with our alarm clock, Alex and I slept in until 7:50-10 minutes before we were supposed to be outside of the front gates. Luckily for us, our friend from one room over, Onur, is also in the physics program and he realized that we weren’t up so he woke us up. He was even kind enough to grab us some food for breakfast while we quickly got our act together by getting dressed, throwing cameras, cell phones, books, and iPods into our backpacks and headed downstairs. Thanks to Onur, we made it onto the bus in time and we had food to eat on the bus.

The next couple hours of hour day were not as adrenaline packed as the first 10 minutes, but they were still relatively enjoyable. Once I was settled I ate a light breakfast with the intent of filling myself up but not being so stuffed that I’d feel sick on the rides later. After my breakfast, I popped open a book and read for a good part of the ride. They also had a movie playing about the famous scientist Richard Feynman that I watched and found quite interesting. The movie was basically a biography of Richard’s life and it detailed how he became interested in science—which eventually led to him taking part in building the atomic bomb.

In the World War Two class that I took last year, I was the head of the prosecution in a mock war crimes trial with the defendant President Harry Truman. Through this two week long trial I became very aware of the various ethical aspects of dropping the bomb, but I have not yet had the opportunity to learn much about the development of the bomb. Because of this, I found the movie, which is called “Infinity’ by the way, to be quite interesting as a way of getting inside the head of one of the leading scientists of the time. Additionally, I intend to read the book “The making of the Atomic Bomb” which our teacher, Bill Berner, highly recommended.

Anyways, back to what we did today. Once we got off the bus, getting into HersheyPark went very smoothly. Even though Bill was carrying 50 or so pounds of electronics that easily made him look like a terrorist, the security was friendly and we were in the park in less than five minutes. Inside the park, we established a meeting spot where we got all of our gear for the morning. My group of four got our gear and we quickly headed to our rollercoaster of choice: the SooperDooperLooper.

We got on the ride with two of us looking completely ridiculous. We alternated who got to make the amazing fashion statement of wearing a fanny pack and who got to look highly suspicious by wearing a vest that held the camera in it. Although we looked ridiculous, we set up our 3-dimensional accelerometer, fastened our gear down and got ready to ride. The ride we rode lasted about two minutes for each run, and we went on a few times in a row to get several sets of data to make sure it was accurate. After we had gotten several sets of data, we returned our equipment to Bill and got ready to enjoy the next several hours at the park.

The roller coasters at HersheyPark were a lot of fun. Though I didn’t keep track of how many rides we went on, we tried every kind of ride you can imagine. We tried wooden coasters, smooth metal coasters, and my favorite, the hydraulically launched Storm Runner. Storm runner was my favorite because it accelerates you from 0 to 72 miles per hour in less than two seconds and you then go flying straight up into the air well over a hundred fifty feet.
The ride continues by careening down the other side and then doing some fancy loops. We rode several more roller coasters like this that I won’t bother to describe, but I had a really fun time on all of them especially because all of my friends were with me. In the afternoon we were pretty hot so we decided to try a water ride to cool off a bit. While we were repeatedly warned, we all went on the ride in our regular clothes and proceeded to be absolutely saturated with about 10 gallons of water each. After I wrung out my clothing, we headed to some more rides and before we knew it, it was time to head home.

As a last fun thing in the park, I went with Julia and watched her get a cool-looking design painted on her face. The ride back home went very smoothly just as the ride to the park had. We watched Harry Potter 7 part 1 (which I hadn’t seen yet so that was enjoyable as well). All in all, today was somewhat educational, and very very fun.
Who's got their hands in the air? Oh yeah, me.
Beautiful no?

The Rides at Hershey Park are Sweet

When I woke up this morning, I did not at all expect that by the end of the day I would have such a hoarse voice. Today was our class field trip to Hershey Park, where we would gather data from our respective rides. We had to meet in front of the quad at 8:00 so we could beat traffic into Hershey. We did in fact beat traffic, but the ride to the park was still long. We drove for two hours before reaching the amusement park. Once we arrived, we set up a base camp of sorts in a shaded area near the front of the park. This is where we were given our data collection tools and also where we would meet to leave the park later. Once my group was given a GLX (our data collection tool) and a camera, we headed for the SooperDooperLooper.

We had to walk about half way across the park to reach our ride, but it paid off later when we were trying to find other rides. The name SooperDooperLooper is slightly misleading. The name makes it sound like the loop is the main point of the ride. However, the loop is right after the first hill, which makes total sense with regard to physics, and then after that, the twists and turns of the ride are really what make it. The loop has to be right after the initial drop so that the carts have enough gravitational potential energy to convert into kinetic energy. This kinetic energy is important because otherwise the carts will not have enough energy to make it around the loop. Our data was easy to collect and we only had to spend about half an hour of our time working. Once we collected the data and analyzed it, we returned our equipment and began exploring the park.

Checking the data thoroughly
The first stop we made was at the most intense rollercoaster in the park: Fahrenheit. Since Mike has been to Hershey before and he had already experienced the whiplashing vertigo-inducing Fahrenheit he opted not to ride it. I also decided not to ride because I value the alignment in my spine and neck far too much to ride what looks to be a deathtrap.

Our group divided and Brian and Julia waited to ride the coaster for an hour. Mike and I did several things in the meantime. We rode the Lightning Racer, which is a wooden coaster on which two trains of carts race to the finish, as well as a pendulum ride called Pirate. Mike and I rode on separate trains of carts so we could race and my group of carts won. After several roller coaster rides, Pirate was actually pretty relaxing.

We also had lunch at a pizza shop next to the water ride Tidal Force (which will reappear later). We met up with Brian and Julia after we ate and thankfully they were each still in one piece.

Once we were all back together, we decided to ride Stormrunner, which is the second most intense coaster in the park. Words cannot really do justice to the experience so I will post a link to a YouTube video where you can see what we saw. ( The ride is only about forty-five seconds long and the speed of the carts begins at about seventy miles per hour. I cannot really estimate how fast it was going after the first hill because I was just gripping the seat for dear life, but it was definitely faster than any other ride that I have been on in the past. It was a great ride and was definitely the highlight of my day, despite it being the cause of me losing my voice.

After Stormrunner, we headed to Tidal Force, which is similar to Logger’s Revenge for those readers who are familiar with the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The ride is just a big cart that holds about twenty and you are dropped down a tall ramp into a pool below, which then causes a “tidal force” that splashes just about everything within a twenty foot radius. After Tidal Force, we decided to dry off by riding Lightning Racer again. Unfortunately we had to return to base camp and attempt to, once again, beat traffic. It didn’t work this time…

Being launched at 70 mph is not exactly calming...
When we returned to Penn, Brian and I discovered that we were late for our movie group’s departure. Because of this we had to go watch Avatar in the lounge instead of going to the real movie theater. Thankfully, all the other people in the room (about six people) were just as bored with the film as Brian and I were. When we finished disc one, we pleaded with Elliot (one of the RC’s that manages the events) to let us leave. He allowed us to leave so Brian and I sought out the other members of our group. Once the seven of us had gathered, we played Pictionary and Taboo in our lounge. It was a great way to conclude an already excellent day.

As I sit here typing this blog, I am also chugging water because I would like to restore my voice to full capacity. This was really the only downside to the day. All the other thrills I experienced today and all the fun I had far outweigh that small side effect. Tomorrow we will all be taking another field trip to Washington, D.C. and I cannot wait to tour the capitol with my friends. Until tomorrow’s blog, I’m signing off.
I thought the heat was getting to me when I saw dancing chocolate...
A sea of Domo...