March 10th, 2009

escher, maths, lego

Mobiuscoasters

I'm not the world's biggest fan of rollercoasters (well riding them - I do tend to find them fascinating to look at - I could have hours of fun wondering around a fairground without getting on any of the rides, just watching them to see what they do), but one of the few I've actually been on is the Grand National at Blackpool.

I was interested to see richardwiseman claim this morning, that it was in fact a mobius strip.

It's been about 10 years since I was on it, so I've been trying to remember the track layout all morning. As far as I can remember, you do start off on one platform and finish on the other and the tracks don't cross. However, I think I'm going to have to find a good photo, so I can envisage the layout and try to untangle it into the basic ring with a twist to convince myself it actually is one.
escher, maths, lego

Not a Mobiuscoaster

Having now thought about the claims the Grand National is a Mobius strip a bit more, I've come to the conclusion the tracks must cross.

If they don't then the trains would need to maintain their relative positions (ie. train 1 on the left, train 2 on the right), which means they'd have to come back into the station either upside-down or back-to-front, which they don't. Looking at videos of the ride on Youtube, I suspect they actually cross at some point when the tracks separate either going into or out of the station.

Then again, if you used a train based on some form of hinged suspended seating, you could actually make a mobiuscoaster.