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Roller coasters can bring us feelings of joy or pure terror. Most of them are made for thrills. But this one? It’s built to kill you. Think your body can handle it? Hold on tight! Oh no, oh no, oh nooooo! Back in 2010 at the Royal College of Art in London, Ph.D. student and former amusement park employee Julijonas Urbonas designed a revolutionary roller coaster. While it might look fun from afar, the goal of this loopy coaster is to give you the thrill of your life. Or in this case, your death. Now a professor at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, Urbonas designed it as a form of euthanasia. That’s the medical term for a merciful and relatively painless death. For patients with terminal illnesses, this is a compassionate option to end their suffering. But instead of taking your final breath on a hospital bed, Julijonas thought, why not go out with “elegance and euphoria”? So, what would riding on the death coaster feel like? Could you survive?

THE FORCE OF GRAVITY

Gravity plays a large part in what makes riding a roller coaster so much fun! Woohoo! As you speed down a long drop, you seem to become momentarily weightless, creating a flutter in the stomach that, for some, can be euphoric. All the turns, banks and loops create a positive gravitational force known as g-force. But too much g-force could do some serious damage. It could even kill you. And that’s exactly what Urbonas wanted to exploit with his death coaster.


THE COASTER DESIGN

Officially known as the Euthanasia Coaster, it starts with a drop that is more than three times as high as the world’s tallest coaster, New Jersey’s Kingda Ka. That’s followed by seven progressively smaller loops. All of these loops are designed to keep the g-forces high throughout the ride. On a normal roller coaster, g-forces push your blood to your lower extremities and away from your heart and brain. But only temporarily. It’s why some people pass out. The record for the strongest g-force measured on a roller coaster is 6.3, which only lasts for a few seconds. If you were a fighter pilot, you might experience as much as 8 to 9 g’s. In this case, you’d be wearing a compression suit to keep the blood in your upper body so you don’t faint. For less than two seconds, Air Force officer John Stapp proved that the human body can withstand a staggering 46.2 g’s. With that out of the way, let’s ride this thing!

THE RIDE

Please make sure your seatbelt is secure and keep your arms inside the carriage. It takes two minutes for your single-person car to reach the top of the coaster’s peak. You can use this time to think back about your life or change your mind. If you decide to go through with it, press the confirmation button. There’s no turning back now. You plummet down the first drop at 360 km/h (224 mph) and feel your stomach churn. As you hit the first loop, your body is pummeled with 10 g’s of force. But unlike other roller coasters where the g’s go up and down, this force is maintained for an exceedingly long 60 seconds. After the first loop, you have trouble breathing as gravity pushes against your organs. You’re feeling faint. The blood drains from your upper body and you go into a state of hypoxia. You’re having trouble seeing, and your bones begin to crack under the pressure. You black out, and if all has gone to plan, you die. However, your brain is a remarkable thing. It can go without oxygen for three to six minutes before permanent damage begins. It may have started as a thrill, but it could very quickly become a nightmare. You might survive this death ride, except you’d be left with damaged organs, broken bones or find yourself in a coma.


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