After a couple of minutes, Thomas, Lily and Beth all ended up with me at the merry go round. I spun and they kept cheering faster. I spun it as fast as I could. They still all screamed "FASTER!". But I was getting tired. After a small break, we started up again, they started asking me why I couldn't spin it any faster (note to self: don't fall for this again).
I explained that we could use physics to help us spin faster, but I needed their help. Instead of being so close to the center, if everyone started on the outside, let me spin the merry go round as fast as I could, and then they could all move to the center, it would end up spinning much faster, very similar to an ice skater tucking inward for a spin.
So everyone moved to the outside and I started to spin the merry go round. Once I got it as far as I could, I told them to move to the center. They all screamed as they pushed inward and the merry go round super accelerated. Then I heard Beth scream, "HELLLLLP!"
Now our particular merry go round (is there a shorter name for that) happens to have a metal railing 8 inches above the surface around the entire perimeter to help prevent small children from being ejected at high speeds. Nevertheless, I have still seen children ejected from this merry go round. They just go over or under the bar. In the second while I was trying to figure out what was wrong, something came at me from my right side and I instinctively jumped back. I realized too late it was Beth.
While Beth looked nearly horizontal, I estimate from how high her feet were off the ground that her body was somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees swept out from vertical. By my calculations, sqrt(tan(60)^2+1)=2 and sqrt(tan(70)^2+1) =2.92, which means she was experiencing something between 2 and 3 g's of force (mathematically inclined friends: feel free to correct my calculations if I am missing something). This makes me think it had to be closer to 60 degrees, because there are very few of us that can hold on to a bar while experiencing 2 g's and it would be almost Herculean to hold on to a bar while experiencing 3 g's.
I started to run after her, but stopped almost immediately, because she was already a fourth of the circle ahead of me. I had to get her on the next go round. I just wasn't sure if she could make it. "Hold on Beth!", I yelled. I got ready like the next runner in a baton relay, and started running in anticipation of Beth's arrival. I grabbed her around the torso, and tried to pull her off , but her grip was too strong. Adrenalin can do amazing things for a little girl. I didn't want to hurt her by yanking too hard. "Let go Beth!", I said. The merry go round started to pull her out of my arms since I couldn't keep pace. "Let go! Let go! Let go!", I screamed. She did.
By the time she had let go, the merry go round had pulled her to the point that I was just holding her thighs in my hands, and my arms were completely extended. I had to swing her around and up just so her head wouldn't hit the ground. She started crying immediately and I thought she was hurt in some way, but as I talked to her, she said she was just scared. No bruises. No scrapes. We were lucky and blessed. She kept saying it all seemed like a bad dream. I'm just glad it had a happy ending.