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Energy of a Roller Coaster

animation of a roller coaster
[QuickTime version]

In this animation, you see a Roller coaster car starting from the top of the first hill. Notice that this hill is the largest because in typical roller coasters, the total energy put into the system is equal all put in by the first hill. All the work is done by the chain and motor to lift the car to the top of that hill. So notice that the total energy ( on graph) is the same value as the amount of gravitational potential energy (GPE). There are several other important things to notice here:

This simulation is ignoring any effects of friction.