Sum of All Thrills – Great Attraction! Ummmm….about the math on the website ….

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Raytheon’s The Sum of All Thrills (SOAT) ride opened in Epcot’s Innoventions East in 2009, and quickly became a word-of-mouth hit. Using computer software and a neat touch-screen interface, you design the track layout of a thrill ride themed as either a traditional roller coaster, a bobsled, or a jet fighter, and you specify how intense the ride ends up. Once you’re done with the design, you’re loaded into a Kuka robotic arm, and get to “ride” your creation. It’s a hoot.

Raytheon also has a website, www.MathMovesU.com, which includes math quizzes related to the attraction. Playing around on the website this morning, this question caught my attention:

The Split S barrel roll maneuver requires flying as fast as our jet will allow; Mach 6.7 (mach being 340 m/s).

What is the number of miles per second you will be going when you complete this maneuver?

An interesting question. The speed is given in Metric units (meters per second), and you have to specify the answer in Imperial units (miles per second). I like it!

So I did the math:

The jet flies at 6.7 * 340 m/s, which is 2,278 meters/second.

Using Google’s conversion tools, 2,278 meters is about 1.415 miles. Thus, the jet is moving about 1.415 miles per second.

However, when you enter 1.415, 1.42 or anything close to that as the answer, you’re told you’re wrong. Then you get this hint from the website:

Mach 6.7 simply means 6.7 times the speed of sound, which is 340 m/s. In order to solve this problem, we need to multiply 6.7 by 340.

Multiplying 6.7 x 340 yields 2,278. But that’s only a partial hint, since the question says you have to answer in miles per second. This was apparently missed by the folks who worked on the MathMovesU website, because the website thinks 2,278 is the right answer. (That is, the website thinks the jet is traveling at 2,278 miles per second, or roughly 1.2% of the speed of light.) To put this in perspective, the website thinks jet’s speed is more than fifty times faster than the Helios 2 spacecraft, the fastest speed ever reached by a man-made object.

Of course, I could be wrong about the math. Let me know if you see anything.

Finally, we’ve updated our Lines, our mobile website for WDW wait times, to include estimates for Sum of All Thrills wait times.

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Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

18 thoughts on “Sum of All Thrills – Great Attraction! Ummmm….about the math on the website ….

  • January 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm
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    The simplest explanation is that some non-engineer assumed the units were “miles” instead of “meters”. Whoever wrote the problem probably never intended there to be a coversion to miles at all.

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    • January 3, 2010 at 2:27 pm
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      Yeah, that’s the simplest answer, and I think what the designers were looking for.

      However, it’s a bit unusual that the question’s author also didn’t think that 340 miles per second is really, really fast for sound? I mean, planes can break the sound barrier, yet it didn’t occur to the author that these speeds would imply a coast-to-coast plane ride of around 8 seconds?

      Reply
      • January 4, 2010 at 9:51 am
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        Sure it’s unusual. It’s also unusual to consider one mile to be one meter. 🙂

  • January 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm
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    This seems like an editing error rather than a math error, but either way the answer is dead wrong. Good catch!

    Of course, since even 1 mi/sec is absurdly fast, the mi/sec unit is not a very practical unit; ft/sec or mi/hr are much more common measures for speed, so–in retrospect for me–the use of mi/sec should have been a red flag.

    Probably some US-educated humanities major reviewed the question, wisely thought it would be good to specify that the answer be given in certain units, and incorrectly expanded m/s into miles per second. If we had gone metric in the 1970s, maybe this tragedy would never have happened! 🙂

    Reply
  • January 3, 2010 at 2:31 pm
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    Nice catch.

    This may seem an innocuous error, but is just such an error that made a Mars lander mysteriously go kablooey upon landing, so they really should fix this, if they don’t want to look idiots that should no longer receive aerospace contracts.

    On a lighter note, can’t wait to ride this two weeks from today

    Reply
    • January 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm
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      Hey Dug – I had exactly that in mind as I wrote this. A millimeter here, a millimeter there, then *boom*!

      Reply
  • January 3, 2010 at 4:19 pm
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    Never mind all that, tell me more about the attraction… and more importantly, have you come up with an Innoventions sub-touring plan yet? =)

    Reply
    • January 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm
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      Yes, Bigwig!

      I’m thinking you should see SOAT after Test Track and Mission: Space on the plan, early in the morning. Waits are minimal then, and you can re-ride if desired.

      Reply
      • January 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm
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        Another question about the attraction… is there a height restriction? (Kind of assuming it would correspond to other roller coaster type rides, but just want to know before we get there.)

      • January 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm
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        Yes – I think it’s 48″ if the ride you design does not go upside down, and 54″ if it does go upside down.

      • January 3, 2010 at 9:55 pm
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        Thanks, Len… going further, are there other exhibits on that side of Innoventions that you find intriguing? Or across the expanse of both buildings? Honestly, I have never had the pleasure of really touring Innoventions, but I hope to remedy that during my May 2010 trip. Any info would be helpful. Perhaps a WDWToday Innoventions podcast (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) is in order?

  • January 3, 2010 at 4:46 pm
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    Perhaps they collaborated with the original Hubble engineers?

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  • January 4, 2010 at 4:01 pm
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    hmmm…I just did the Math and the answer I ended up with is Little Rock. Must have went wrong somewhere.

    Reply
  • January 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm
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    Thank you for the catch on our website, mathmovesu.com

    The answer should ask for meters per second and not miles per second.

    The answer of 2,278 meters/second is correct.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
    We hope you enjoy the rest of the website – and the Sum of all Thrills experience – and welcome any questions or comments.

    Reply
    • January 6, 2010 at 8:54 am
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      Thanks for the response, folks! Great attraction.

      Reply
    • January 6, 2010 at 9:42 am
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      Wow. Behold the power of the Unofficial Guide (ding)!

      Reply
  • February 19, 2010 at 8:04 am
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    I have been looking all over for that content. Thankfully I noticed it on Msn.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm
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    I am now not sure the place you’re getting your information, however good topic. I must spend a while learning more or figuring out more. Thanks for wonderful information I used to be in search of this info for my mission.

    Reply

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