Dick and Dom sample all the fun of the fair in this thrill ride through the engineering genius of rollercoasters and water slides.
Browse content similar to Ultimate Playground. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
-Welcome to the genius world of... BOTH:
Each show, we're going to introduce you to three geniuses...
..whose ideas have quite literally built the world.
'We put all their epic brilliance...'
Yes! '..to the test...'
Hit it, hit it!
..when we tackle our own genius Monster Build.
Don't you dare demolish this!
Why is it swinging?!
All in the name of science.
That is a MASSIVE piece of construction.
What could possibly go wrong?
On this show...
..get ready for some hair-raising drops...
..and some soaking slipperiness...
..as we bravely propel ourselves...
into the science behind the screams...
SCREAMING ..of the world's great thrill rides.
In today's show, we're going to be travelling the world,
looking at the genius of nail-biting thrill rides.
-All in the name of 'aving it!
Er, yeah, and 'aving it.
We'll be looking at three geniuses
whose work has helped exhilarate and entertain us.
And, at the end of the show, we're going to be building
our very own super-slide and flinging ourselves down it.
Big scream to start?
Ah, why not?
As long as there have been hills,
people have been throwing themselves down them for fun.
On slides, sledges, skis
and other things not necessarily beginning with S.
This thirst for thrills has become a multi-billion dollar industry,
with roller-coasters and water slides
constantly pushing the limits of epic engineering.
Are you ready for this?
-To meet our first genius.
-Where is she?
At 178 metres,
this tunnel slide in London is the world's longest,
and our genius just had to be at the top, didn't she?
THEY PANT AND GASP
Why did she make us come up here?
-Well, the work of our first genius...
..is all about building up energy.
Energy?! I lost mine 50 steps up.
DRUMROLL Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Emilie du Chatelet.
Where is she?
Bonjour, monsieur. Who knew physics could be this fun?
In the 1700s, experts in maths and physics were almost all men.
But one French lady said, "Non, non, non," to that
and set about becoming one of the world's top energy scientists.
Emilie du Chatelet and her genius research
into a thing called kinetic energy
helped turn thrill rides from slow to who-o-o-o-a!
So why do most rides and slides start really high off the ground?
-I don't know.
-No, neither do I.
Actually, Fran said it was something about potential energy.
-I don't know. Oh, and kinetic energy.
-And what's that?
-I don't know.
Oh, and she said we'll need some swimming shorts.
-What are they?
'Meet Fran, our scientist friend...'
'..who can explain things in a way that even WE can understand.'
It worked, Franny!
'She loves a good experiment.'
'And best of all, she pops up...
'..whenever we need her.'
Franny, everybody. Eh?
To show us all about du Chatelet's genius,
Fran's asked to meet us at a swimming pool.
-All right, Fran?
So Emilie du Chatelet - hills, energy, roller-coasters. What?!
Ah, right, well, what's the one thing
you want to do when you're on a ride?
-And to go fast, you need lots of movement energy,
which is also known as kinetic energy.
OK, so where does this kinetic - "movement" - energy come from?
Well, I want to show you...
-..using water balloons.
How do you normally get a water balloon to move fast?
-Throw it really hard.
-Exactly, so try it.
Hep! CYMBAL CRASH
-Ah, very good.
And the reason that worked
is because energy can pass from one thing to another.
Ah, I see, so the energy passes from your arm into the balloon?
So does this idea work with any object?
Yeah, yeah, it works for absolutely anything.
'Sorry, Fran, just checking the scientific principles out.
'And you're right.'
-I'm going to SO get you back for this!
'Yeah, somehow I don't think Fran's
'going to let us get away with that one.
'I think we're about to get a little bit wet, too.'
So, um, too late to say sorry? Sorry.
-Ah, well, we'll see, we'll see.
So far, we've seen that we can
-transfer the energy from our arm into a balloon.
-But that's kinetic to kinetic.
But Emilie's genius was to realise that energy
can actually pass on between different types of energy.
-Light, heat, sound?
-but we're here to look at potential energy.
-What's that, then?
Raise an object from the ground and you give it potential energy.
'To prove the point, Fran now wants us to jump in.'
'Diving from these things needs a serious head for heights.
'And that's not something you have, is it, Rich?'
-Don't worry. You see that one-metre board?
That's what you're going on.
-Is that all he's doing?!
Dom, you see that ten-metre one?
-Thank you very much, goodbye.
To go off that, we have our diver, Georgia.
THEY BOTH YELL That's got to hurt.
-Thank goodness for Georgia.
-Yep, and we're going to measure both speeds
-with this radar gun.
-Let's do it.
By jumping from the one-metre board,
Rich will have SOME potential energy.
One metre, easy.
But, from the ten-metre board,
Georgia will have ten times that energy.
This means that she will convert that potential energy...'
-'..into kinetic energy
'and hit the water faster...'
'..than THAT pathetic excuse for a dive.'
One-metre board - 5.2 miles an hour.
Let's go up ten metres, eh?
'Nothing prepares you for just how high this is.
'Until you stand and peer over the edge.'
'But how much faster will Georgia's dive be?'
Graceful and fast,
Georgia's clocked a lightning speed of 24.7 miles an hour.
By climbing ten times higher,
Georgia had much more potential energy than me.
And, when she jumped and converted that into kinetic energy,
she travelled way quicker.
24.7! Wasn't that incredible, the difference?
-That was incredible.
-But not as incredible as, er...
-It's payback time!
LAUGHING: Good work, Franny!
Du Chatelet's brilliant work meant engineers better understood
how things behave when you push them from heights.
And some of the earliest downhill fun
was had by mine workers in the US,
who realised that sitting in coal wagons as they ran down the mountain
was a great way to spend your lunch hour.
Word quickly spread
and, soon, theme parks were building their own versions.
And so the roller-coaster as we know it was born.
Well, not exactly, because those old rides
only used to go about 6mph,
which is about the speed of one of these things -
-not exactly thrilling, is it?
-No, it's not.
That was until the next genius stepped up to the plate.
He created something that made roller-coasters safer
and faster than ever before.
DRUMROLL We're talking about American inventor John Miller.
So how did roller-coasters go from this...
Much of this was down to John Miller,
a designer and businessman who, in his time,
invented over 100 roller-coaster parts.
One of which was a huge game changer.
Come on, we're late for our meeting with the Genius Helper.
All right. Go on, then - race you.
This is Brendan Walker, expert in all things thrill rides.
And just the person to fill us in on John Miller.
-Hey, Brendan. Lovely to meet you.
-Good to meet you.
Right, John Miller - what was his genius?
John Miller invented over 100 different parts of roller-coasters,
but the most important one he invented was the up-stop wheel.
And how does it work?
By clamping the car on the track.
So, before John Miller's genius invention,
roller-coasters just had that on top of the track?
Yeah, this would be a bit like a car,
but if you actually went over lots of bumps and stuff,
-the car could fly off.
-If you get a second one and clamp it on...
..you can still go up and down but the car doesn't fly off.
Time for a bit of research.
This is The Big One in Blackpool...
..the tallest coaster in the UK.
And as we know, more height means more speed.
87mph of speed.
-Oh, and you know this noise?
That's another of Miller's inventions,
called the safety ratchet,
which stops you from rolling backwards.
John Miller, you are a roller-coasting genius.
Did he invent the "stop and go back to the bottom" button?
By using Miller's wheels,
coasters could be much bigger, much faster
and, luckily for us, much safer.
It's all in the name of science!
Oh, dear! Oh, hey.
Oh, that was madness, especially that first big drop.
-Why do people enjoy going on roller-coasters like that?
Cos it makes you feel alive.
There are very few things in modern life
that allow you to feel the emotions you feel on here.
-We enjoy the fear because it's safe?
So the world can ride on roller-coasters like this
-all because of John Miller's wheels.
-What a genius, eh?
Thanks very much, Brendan.
I'm afraid you don't get off that likely.
John Miller's wheels allow you to do one other thing.
Go upside down.
Oh, John Miller invented the upside-down roller-coaster as well?
No, they were inverting roller-coasters
before John Miller's wheels,
but they relied purely on centripetal force.
-If you're going fast enough...
So, you know when you put water in a bucket and swing it around like that
and the water doesn't come out?
-It's exactly the same, but if you go too slow...
-Yeah! ..it drops.
-Yeah. But now you can do it safely.
We thought it was only fair to put his wheels to the test again,
but this time on a looping roller-coaster.
And it was around this point we regretted the decision.
Thanks to this clever bloke from America,
we got the loopy, speedy, scary roller-coasters
that we know and love today.
I tell you what, I wish I'd never had that fry-up for breakfast.
What did I tell you?
Cereal and fruit before loop-the-loop.
we build our very own scientifically slippery slide.
Science can make Dick and Dom faster than Usain Bolt?
Which luckily required more research.
But while we catch our breath...
..it's time for more Random Genius-nessss!
These days, roller-coasters use hi-tech computers and magnets
to slow them down.
But, in the early days, it was someone's job
to sit on every ride and use a handbrake
to stop it from speeding off the track.
I want that job!
You think normal rides are scary?
Well, how about this one built on the top of a Las Vegas hotel,
which leaves you dangling over 260 metres in the air?
Yeah, not for me, that one.
The best thing in a park is the slide, it's a given.
But imagine adding some water.
Some Las Vegas sunshine.
And a nice pair of skimpies.
And you've only gone and got the best place in the world.
It's all thanks to our final genius, the Sultan Of Slides,
Herbert Sellner was a woodworker who made children's toys and furniture.
But, in 1923, he made something
that would change your summer holidays forever.
It doesn't exactly look safe, does it?
He called it the water toboggan slide,
and it's regarded as the birth of the water slide as we know it.
And, just like the coal mine rides,
the idea was copied and quickly spread throughout the world.
You might think it's quite straightforward -
run up the stairs, jump off, slide down. Easy!
It's not that easy
because water slides are a major feat of engineering.
Each slope, each curve has been designed
right down to the last millimetre.
We've got an expert coming here to tell us more
but he won't be here for about half an hour.
We've got the water park to ourselves.
I mean, literally not a single person here.
Right, slide time!
-SHE BLOWS THE WHISTLE
ROCK MUSIC PLAYS
'I'll be honest...' HE SCREAMS
'..having a water park all to yourself...'
High. It's very high up.
'..is as good as it looks.'
'But it can't all be fun and games.
'Remember, we need to know how slides really work
'for our own Monster Build.'
'And who better to tell us
'than Genius Helper materials scientist Ash?'
-Hey, guys, how you doing?
Right, what we want to know is how water slides work
-and how do you go down in the fastest time possible?
You want to convert potential energy into kinetic energy.
-That's the underlying principle for how a water slide works.
Now, there's two things slowing you down.
-Number one is air resistance...
..and, critically for a water slide, number two is friction.
So what is friction?
Well, imagine trying to drag something heavy across the floor.
The two surfaces look smooth but, if we zoom in...
..the two surfaces rub against each other,
making it difficult for the object to slide across the floor.
That resistance to movement is known as friction.
I thank you.
The way a water slides minimises friction
is it uses water as a lubricant between you and the slide,
helping you to get faster.
What it's doing is stopping you from sticking to the slide?
That's exactly what it's doing.
Have you got anything that can put this theory to the test?
So you guys are roughly the same shape and size
and you're wearing the same clothing.
-So, you're going to go down around the same time.
What we are going to do is put one of you in different clothing
and I'm going to show to you how changing the friction
is going to have huge effect on the time you go down the slide.
'Now, you obviously wouldn't be wearing
'your grandad's woolly jumper...'
Just what you need on a boiling hot day(!)
'..but you get the idea.
'Clothing like this should mean lots of friction...'
Right. '..and a slower time.'
Let's do it.
'Let's put this theory to the test.
'First up, it's my turn.'
In three, two, one.
Going nice and quick. Streamlined.
This is good.
What was my time?
It was about 15 seconds.
'Not a bad time.'
'And with the same clothing and technique,
'Rich should do roughly the same.
'But how will he get on with his grandad gear?'
Ooh. Oh, it's slow.
I'm getting stuck!
'Hmm. All those fibres in the clothing
'are creating a rough surface for the slide to stick to.'
This is really slow.
'There's no way I'll be beating Dom's time in this.'
Snail's pace? You wish!
What was taking you so long?
-What do you think?
-Look how heavy I am!
-What's wrong with you? Eh?
What's your excuse?
The slowest ride I've ever been on, that.
'You are right, it was slow.
'At 24 seconds, you were nine seconds slower
'than my streamlined technique and slippery clothing.'
This is really slow.
Going nice and quick, streamlined.
'Friction, air resistance, gravity, potential and kinetic energy -
who knew there was so much going on when it comes to water slides?
Herbert Sellner, you are an Absolute Genius.
Ah, you guys.
Our three geniuses have shown us
that work and play can sometimes be the same thing.
But have we learned enough from them
-to tackle our very own thrill-ride Monster Build?
-We need to find a hill.
-We need to go fast.
-And we need... Well, we need some help.
That's why we've called in Brendan again -
the perfect person to turn our ideas into reality.
-All right again?
We need to build a massive water slide.
Now, we have been on some amazing water slides in America.
They were brilliant. This does not look like a brilliant water slide.
-That's not massive.
-But it has all the right ingredients.
-It's got a slippy surface here.
-It's got a gradient.
-We've got a weight, which will be you.
-It didn't move!
-That didn't go very far.
Well, the extra ingredient we use...
-..is water to make it...
-..to make it slippy.
Go on, then. Let's see.
This is us.
-It's going to be good.
Brendan is going to use these principles on a bigger scale -
a much bigger scale.
And he's added some tech to it.
He's lined up some timing equipment used by Olympic athletes,
because our challenge is to somehow get down the hill
faster than Usain Bolt's 100-metre world record of...
To give us every chance of success,
the slide is being built on a steep, but safe, slope,
which will hopefully give us the speed we need
to beat that incredible time. CHEERING
But where do you get a monster slide?
Brendan knows a guy.
Of course he does.
And this slide is one of the biggest in the country.
The team have really got their work cut out putting it all together.
This thing is massive!
Brendan! Here we go. This looks impressive.
-I'll say, it's definitely a Monster Build.
-Is it fast enough?
-Well, I've measured it out,
it's just around 100 metres.
-I reckon it's fast enough,
but I'll be able to tell by doing timed runs
-using this piece of equipment.
We've got a beam of light at the top
and, at the bottom, when you break it,
it starts and stops the timer.
-And the same to stop, yeah?
Ready... Hup! Oh, yeah.
But are we really going to be faster than Usain Bolt?
If you're not fast enough on the first run,
I've got a few scientific tricks up my sleeve that you can try out.
No way! Science can make Dick and Dom faster than Usain Bolt?
-I reckon so.
-It can be a new Olympic sport.
-Let's go put our swim shorts on, then.
-Right, see you in a bit.
The last ingredient for this Monster Build is the all-important water,
and that's where these guys come in.
We've brought in the Staffordshire Fire Service
to hook us up with the amount of water we'll need
for a slide as giant as this.
-'And of course...'
'..Dick has to have a go on the big hosepipe, er...thingy.'
There's a challenge to be done here.
Right, well, that's us told.
With our game faces on, shorts and two-for-one dressing gowns,
it's time to slide.
Getting down here faster than the best 100-metre sprinter in history -
that's surely impossible.
But when's that ever stopped us?
Stretch, stretch, stretch, and look - bend the knees.
'I'm in the zone.'
On my count...
'Come on, Rich! You've got this.'
Three, two, one.
Ah, maybe not.
-Come on, you started it.
-I've started it.
I'm going! I'm going!
'I'm not going.
'I didn't create enough momentum to stop me from sticking to the slide.'
He looks like he's created a kind of dam in the water. Um...
The water's actually going around him.
And he's stopped again.
'Oh, this is even worse than Vegas.'
'I'm starting to think that me and water slides don't mix.'
Brendan, this is rubbish!
-Go on, put your back into it.
'No, YOU were rubbish.'
It's not good.
That's quite enough of that.
'After seeing his embarrassingly slow attempt,
'I decide to switch tactics.'
I'm going to try and do a bit better
by making the surface a bit wetter near the start.
And then I'm going to have a big run-up as well.
'And with the slide nicely soaked...'
Are you ready?
'..it's my turn.'
'The running start really helps,
'and I'm obviously beating Rich's time,
'but will it beat Usain Bolt's?'
-Oh, well, that's pretty good, mate.
-It felt fast.
-Just over ten seconds.
'I got down in a respectable 10.25 seconds.
'It's good, but way off Bolt's record.'
-But that does prove that a run-up helps as well.
So you get over that initial bit of friction.
Once you're going, you've got the momentum so you'll go faster.
'Brendan's next tip is to add washing-up liquid.'
-About four big dollops?
One, two, three, four, five.
'This reduces the friction of the slide much more than water alone.
'A bit too much.'
-A bit more on you.
You're going to go fast now.
Three, two, one!
MUSIC: Night On Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky
MUSIC WINDS DOWN
Why have I stopped?!
'Yet another fine display from this competitive athlete(!)'
'Right, my turn. Here we go.'
MUSIC: Up-tempo Night On Bald Mountain
'This feels fast!'
RICH AND BRENDAN LAUGH
-How did I do?
-..about the same, I'm afraid.
-About the same?!
I was flying down. The soap worked...
..a bit too well, as I lost control and hit a dry patch,
really slowing me down.
'I'm starting to think that this challenge is impossible.'
'Fear not, Brendan has one more trick up his sleeve.'
I'm going to put you on an inflatable board each.
Yeah, but how is that going to help, sitting on an inflatable?
It's going to spread your weight,
but it's also going to squash the water
so you're going to be aquaplaning, literally flying on the water.
-All right. Go on, then.
-Right, I'm going to be fastest this time.
I'm going to be fastest.
Dick, are you good to go?
In three, two, one.
It works! With the Fire Service's help, I get off to a great start.
This could be it.
But hitting the wall threw my board sideways, slowing me down,
and ended any hopes of beating Bolt's time.
I hit the wall halfway down, unfortunately.
If you didn't hit the wall,
I think you'd have actually broken that record.
'It's all down to me.'
'The added mass in this vest will give me increased momentum
'to overcome any friction along the slide.
'We can't afford to lose a split-second here,
'so the Fire Service are eliminating any dry patches with their hose.'
Dom, are you ready?
Give it everything you've got!
Three, two, one.
ROCK MUSIC PLAYS
This is good! This is good!
That was incredible!
-BRENDAN LAUGHS DOM, WEAKLY:
-Did I do it?
You did it!
You didn't just do it - you smashed it!
You went just over seven seconds!
I can't believe it! I averaged just under 30mph
as everything came together for the last run,
easily beating the 9.58 seconds we were aiming for.
Oh, yes, there it is in lights - 7.59.
And that's science - we reduced your friction,
we increased your mass and we gave you an inflatable board to lie on.
Ladies and gentlemen, Eddie the Eagle Usain Bolt Edwards.
Yeah! Oh, my back.
I tell you what, I'm going to go and lie in a hot bubble ba...
-No more bubbles.
-No more bubbles.
I'm going to have a lie down. Where's my gold medal?!
'It's been an episode of ups...'
'..as we discovered that, when it comes to rides and slides,
'having fun requires some serious science.'
Du Chatelet, Miller and Sellner, you're all Absolute Genius!
-One more go?
-Oh, go on, then.
-Get out of it!
He's loving it(!)
I HATE IT!
Absolute Genius presenters Dick and Dom sample all the fun of the fair in this thrill ride through the engineering genius of rollercoasters and water slides. As well as learning how coasters somehow stay on the track when upside down, the boys don their swim shorts and bravely research the science behind the world's fastest water slides. Then they put their theories to the test with an epic slide challenge which attempts to topple a record owned by a certain Usain Bolt.