August 29th, 2013

jeep

Is worth a trip to L.A.

You know why roller coasters don't go flying off the track? That's because the wheel assembly doesn't just have wheels that rest on the top of the track, like railroad trains do, but also wheels on the bottom (and often the side), which make it physically impossible to fly off the track. These were invented somewhere around 1920. Leap-the-Dips, at Lakemont Park, dates to 1902. So what keeps its cars from flying off the track?

Nothing.

The cars on this ride do leap off the track, although they can't get very far off, and they fall back down into a path marked off by side walls. But it means that this ride, despite its quite small drops --- its greatest is about nine feet and most are smaller --- and low speed, and for that matter low overall height of just 41 feet --- is a really thrilling ride. Better, the cars --- which date back to before the ride's dozen-year closure --- don't have seat belts or restraining bars or harnesses or any of the other ways roller coasters since 1925 have tried to keep people from being pitched out of their sets. There's a bar, which one may grab onto, but mostly, you're held in place primarily by your feeling that it would draw embarrassing attention if you made a spectacle of yourself by falling out.

So you see how this is an attraction worth going some distance out of your way to ride.

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Trivia: Linus Pauling's late 1952/early 1953 model of DNA supposed that it was a triple helix (based on data from desiccated and dead DNA, which coils differently to the DNA in living organisms). Source: The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales Of Madness, Love, And The History Of The World From The Periodic Table of the Elements, Sam Kean.

Currently Reading: Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise And Fall Of States And Nations, Norman Davies. I, ah, can't get behind Davies's upset that the Carpatho-Ukranian Republic doesn't even get a footnote in most histories of World War II, given that it existed for one day after the Sudetenland was annexed and was promptly overrun by Hungarians. Also, the mention of Asimov's telling of ethnic jokes with the ethnicity changed to Ruritanian seems like a real stretch to even mention in passing in talking about how vague Eastern European countries get stereotyped as Vague Eastern European Countryland, considering ... well, I mean, seriously.