Tag Archives: gravity

The World’s Tallest Waterslide Just Opened- Here’s How It Looks to Ride It (Video)

“Verrückt” is the German word for “insane”. It is a fitting name for the world’s tallest waterslide, which was just opened to the public at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City.

At 168 feet and 7 inches, the Verrückt is taller than Niagara Falls. To get the top you have to climb 268 stairs.

Click to enlarge
That “Faster than a cheetah!” claim is a bit exaggerated- top speeds are around 50mph. Click to enlarge

John Schooley was the engineer who designed the slide. Here he is talking about when he and park founder Jeff Henry came up with the idea:

“Basically, we were crazy enough to try anything. We decided to design something entirely new, because we decided to put a three or four man boat down it, and we wanted not only the fastest and steepest water slide going downhill, but we wanted to take it uphill over a hump, to give people a weightless experience going down the other side.”

Schooley was also the first to test out the slide, along with another one of the slide’s engineers. Speaking later about the experience he said, “I was terrified.” Check out video of that first test run below:

That second hill is one of the coolest features of the slide. Because of the speed and momentum you build up going down the first slope (you drop 17 stories in 4 seconds), G-force can feel up to 5 times greater than normal as you travel up the second hump.

G-force is defined as a measurement of acceleration felt as weight. Basically, it’s the perceived increase in gravity you feel because of the fact that you’re accelerating. G-force is what pushes you back into your seat as a plane takes off, for example.

A picture of the slide during construction. Click to enlarge

So, when you reach the top of that hump and begin the second drop, you go from feeling like gravity is 5x stronger than normal (5 Gs) to feeling weightless in a split-second. It’s not unlike what astronauts experience when they leave Earth’s atmosphere (although the G-force they feel is many times higher).

The slide was opened to the public this past Friday. Here’s what it looks like to to ride the Verrückt as a member of the public. Garmin VIRB sports camera technology allows you to track speed and heart-rate as you watch:

(h/t Gizmodo and USA Today)

Advertisements

Watch A Four-Year Timelapse of A Mysterious Cosmic Explosion Captured By the Hubble Telescope (Video)

Back in January of 2002, astronomers witnessed a huge explosion from the star V838 Monocerotis, a red variable star about 20,000 light years away from our Sun.

At first, they thought it was a typical supernova (the explosion of a dying star), but after watching the explosion dim then brighten twice over a period of only a few months (supernovas will usually only dim after the initial bright explosion), astronomers really weren’t sure what they were dealing with.

Check out a time-lapse of the explosion from 2002-2006 below (full screen highly suggested).

So what exactly is going on with this explosion? Well, there are five possibilities that have been proposed so far:

  1. The explosion was a supernova, just a very unique one with a multi-outburst pattern, which would explain the multiple brightening and dimming events. Most scientists agree that the large size and young age of the stars in that region makes this explanation unlikely, however.
  2. The explosion was a thermal pulse. When moderately-sized stars run out of fuel, they explode (in a supernova), leaving behind a dense core of hydrogen and helium. Sometimes this hydrogen and helium core can be re-ignited, illuminating the layers of ejected star material from the supernova explosion. Again, however, the star’s young age makes this possibility unlikely.
  3. Another theory also proposes a helium flash, but one that occurred as a result of thermonuclear processes in a massive supergiant star. Supergiants can be large enough for an outer layer of helium to ignite and start the fusion process without the whole star being destroyed. This theory fits with the star’s age, but it doesn’t seem that V838 Monocerotis had enough mass for this process occur.
  4. Planetary capture: when a star grows to large proportions, it can start consuming nearby planets. The friction generated when a very large planet gets pulled apart by the star’s gravity can produce enough energy to spark deuterium fusion, which releases massive amounts of energy (like what we see in the time-lapse).
  5. The explosion was a result of a mergeburst. Sometimes, in clusters of younger stars (where orbits can be very unstable), two main-sequence stars can collide, creating an explosion similar to the one in the video. The relatively young age of the stars near V838 Monocerotis make this a reasonable possibility, and this hypothesis has also been supported by computer modeling.

It’s awesome to study the stars and find out exactly why they act the way they do, but sometimes explanations can be elusive. So while we search for answers, we should also make sure we take the time to simply enjoy watching this mesmerizing cosmic phenomenon.

(h/t Gizmodo)

What It Looks Like When Two Neutron Stars Rip Each Other Apart to Form a Black Hole (Video)

A neutron star is what’s left behind when a massive star (typically 8-30 times the size of our Sun) explodes into a supernova. These supergiant stars get so large that they are no longer able to remain stable under their own intense gravity, collapsing in on themselves.

The gravity is so massive that it exceeds the strength of the atomic forces within particles, causing them to eject protons and electrons. The ball of neutrons they leave behind is so dense that a teaspoonful of the material would weigh as much as Mount Everest!

A neutron star (the tiny white dot in the middle) surrounded by the remnants of the supernova explosion that created it. Click to enlarge (Photo: NASA/Andrew Fruchter)

Neutrons stars have a “mass threshold”- if they take on too much mass, even the neutrons themselves will collapse. When two of these extremely dense neutron stars collide, the extra mass they add to one another causes their massive gravitational forces to tear each other apart.

They go into a blindingly-fast death spin, ejecting massive amount of material while merging into a doughnut like structure with a black hole at its center. The entire process takes just 20 milliseconds (that is 1/50th of a second, if you’re wondering).

Check out a simulation of the amazing phenomenon courtesy of NASA:

The BBC Might Get the Award for Best April Fool’s Day Prank Ever

On the morning of April 1, 1976, renowned English astronomer Patrick Moore got on the BBC radio station and made an astonishing announcement: Moore said that at exactly 9:47 a.m. that day, the planets of Jupiter and Pluto would align with the Earth.

Moore continued, saying that the combined gravitational pull of the two planets would cause a noticeable reduction in the strength of gravity on Earth. He called it the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect.

A more recent picture of Patrick Moore

Sure enough, right after 9:47 a.m., the BBC was flooded with hundreds of calls from people claiming that they had personally experienced the phenomenon. One woman even said that she and her 11 friends were,

 “wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room.”

The BBC revealed the hoax soon afterwards. Read more about the prank here.

No Glue. Just Gravity. This Guy’s Rock Structures Are Incredible (Photo Gallery)

Michael Grab is a guy from Boulder, Colorado with a mind-blowing skill. He uses gravity to create these amazing pieces of art.

Grab’s words about his hobby:

Gravity Glue exists to share my experience in the art of stone balance… All Gravity Glue images exhibit real rocks that I’ve balanced and photographed myself… The process resembles an intimate dance with the elements. adapting to the moments, embracing creative intuition. focused breathing.. silence… exploring and redefining “possible.”

Click an image to enlarge.

For more, check out his website gravityglue.com.