I Just Solved the Ferris Wheel Problem

Ferris wheels, for all that they are a non-adrenaline amusement park ride, are pretty cool. They have two things going for them – the feeling you get as you move through the air, up and down, and the spectacular view you get from the top.

I remember as a kid riding the wheel at the state fair, rising up to see, well, Albuquerque. The ride went in three phases: getting everyone on, spinning around a couple of times, and getting everyone off. (Obviously this was also the getting-eveyone-on phase for the next riders.)

When you’re at the top and barely moving, that’s awesome. But most of that time you’re not at the top, and it kind of sucks as you wait just to be set free.

One of the most famous Ferris wheels is the London Eye. That thing has gondolas that hold 25 people each. But rather than stop the wheel to reload the gondolas, the wheel moves so dang slowly (roughly two revolutions per hour) that passengers can unload and reload without stopping the wheel (usually). But this terrible slowness means that riders are condemned to long periods crowded with strangers when there is nothing to see out the windows.

What we need is a way to keep the wheel turning, but at a rate where the rotation itself is fun. Especially on a huge wheel, the lift and fall would be (dare I say it?) mildly adrenaline-inducing.

Imagine if the London Eye went four times the speed it does now, and never stops, and every passenger got four revolutions. Easy Peasy! You just have to be able to swap out gondolas. One gondola filled with cheerful people is lifted off its harness, and immediately another gondola filled with eager patrons is whisked away. The off-wheel gondolas calmly move to a debarkation station, then to a loading station, and then queue up to join the wheel. Clockwork.

And people with special needs can get on and get comfortable with everyone else, and not worry about holding things up. Boarding the gondola or the chair or whatever it is can be relaxed.

I am quite confident that what I described here is technically in the realm of “not easy, but certainly doable”. Before long there will be a new super-giant Ferris wheel somewhere (probably an oil state) that boasts this feature. Remember: you heard it here first.

(filed under Get Poor Quick because that’s the place for innovation)

2

Maybe I’m missing something.

I’m at the Budvar Bar Near Home, and the TV news is on. We’ve had a storm coming through, and with it inconvenience. I was just watching footage of a crew wading through snow to clear a rather small fallen tree off the tracks while a train waited. They cut the tree into bite-sized morsels and tossed them to the side.

If only there had been something nearby with the ability to pull with great force. They could have cleared the tree in a fraction of the time.