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Tilt-A-Whirl Chaos

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: The amusement park Tilt-A-Whirl spins its passengers in one direction, then another... A rider never knows exactly what to expect next. Yet these complicated, surprising movements arise from a remarkably simple geometry. A passenger rides in one of seven cars, each mounted near the edge of its own circular platform but free to pivot about the center. The platforms, in turn, move at a constant speed along an undulating circular track that consists of three identical hills separated by valleys, which tilt the platforms. To model dynamical systems like the Tilt-A-Whirl, mathematicians, scientists, and engineers use equations that describe how the positions and velocities of a system and its components change over time in response to certain forces. See also Peterson's followup article, Tilt-A-Whirl Chaos (II).

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Dynamical Systems, Chaos

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