View from the top of Verrückt, the world’s tallest waterslide. (Image courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts. Used with permission.)
By Cheryl Siegel
You’ve climbed 246 stairs, and now you’re strapped to a raft 168 feet above the ground. You are about to begin your ride on the tallest, steepest, and fastest waterslide in the world. Verrückt—which means “insane” in German–opened to the public July 2014 at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City. The initial descent is essentially a free-fall—almost a straight drop from 15 stories, in which the raft then accelerates to 65 mph.
The course takes advantage of the relationship between gravity and friction to ensure the rafts remain on the slide. By conducting extensive tests with both sandbags and humans, the ride’s engineers were able to ensure that Verrückt would be safe for all, though they do impose a weight limit of 550 pounds per raft.
To learn more about gravity, friction, velocity and acceleration, please visit OCW’s introductory physics course, 8.01L Physics I: Classical Mechanics. The unit called “Kinematics: Describing 1D Motion, Relative Velocity,” explains the concepts of position, velocity, and acceleration.