My Favorite Lists

While cleaning out an old directory on my computer, I found this list of "Cartoon Laws of Physics" that someone sent me a long time ago. I don't remember the source, but I think you will like the list.


Cartoon Law I:
Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of it's

Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland.  He loiters
in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down.  At
this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second takes over.

Cartoon Law II:
Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter
intervenes suddenly.

Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters
are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an
outsized boulder retards their forward motion absolutely.  Sir Isaac
Newton called this sudden termination of motion the Stooge's surcease.

Cartoon Law III:
Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming
to it's perimeter.

Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the specialty
of victims of direct-pressure explosions and reckless cowards who are so
eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house,
leaving a cookie-cutout perfect hole.  The threat of skunks or matrimony
often catalyzes this reaction.

Cartoon Law IV:
The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or
equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral
down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.

Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to catch it
inevitably unsuccessful.

Cartoon Law V:
All principles of gravity are negated by fear.

Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them
directly away from the earth's surface.  A spooky noise or an adversary's
signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a
chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole.  The feet of a
character who is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never
touch the ground, especially when in flight.

Cartoon Law VI:
As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.

This is particularly true of tooth and claw fights, in which a
character's head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation
at several places simultaneously.  This effect is common as well among
bodies that are spinning or being throttled.  A 'wacky' character has the
option of self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off
walls to achieve the velocity required.

Cartoon Law VII:
Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel
entrances, others cannot.

This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it
is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an
opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space.  The
painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the
painting.  This is ultimately the problem of art, not science.

Cartoon Law VIII:
A violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent.

Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives
might comfortably afford.  They can be decimated, spliced, splayed,
accordion-pleated, spindled or disassembled, but they cannot be
destroyed.  After a few seconds of blinking self-pity, they re-inflate,
elongate, snap back, or solidify.

Corollary: A cat will assume the shape of it's container.

Cartoon Law IX:
Everything falls faster than an anvil.

Cartoon Law X:
For every vengeance there is an equal and opposite revengeance.

This is the one law of animated cartoon motion that applies to the
physical world at large.  For that reason, we need the relief of watching
it happen to a duck.

Cartoon Law Amendment A:
A sharp object will always propel a character upward.

When poked (usually in the buttocks) with a sharp object (usually a pin)
a character will defy gravity by shooting straight up, with great velocity.

Cartoon Law Amendment B:
The laws of object permanence are nullified for 'cool' characters.

Characters who are intended to be 'cool' can make previously non-existent
objects appear from behind their backs at will.  For instance, the road
runner can materialize signs to express himself without speaking.

Cartoon Law Amendment C:
Gravity is transmitted by slow moving waves of large wavelength.

Their operation can be witnessed by observing the behavior of a canine
suspended over a large vertical drop.  It's feet will begin to fall
first, causing it's legs to stretch.  As the wave reaches it's torso,
that part will begin to fall, causing the neck to stretch.  As the head
begins to fall, tension is released and the canine will resume it's
regular proportions until such a time as it strikes the ground.

Cartoon Law Amendment D:
Explosive weapons cannot cause fatal injuries.  They merely turn
characters temporarily black and smoky.

Cartoon Law Amendment E:
Dynamite is spontaneously generated in "C-spaces" (spaces in which
cartoon laws hold).

This process is analagous to steady-state theories of the universe which
postulate that the tensions involved in maintaining a space would cause
the creation of hydrogen from nothing.  Dynamite quanta are quite large
(stick sized) and unstable (lit).  Such quanta are attracted to psychic
forces generated by feelings of distress in cool characters (see
amendment B which may be a special case of this law), who are able to use
said quanta to their advantage.  One may imagine C-spaces where all
matter and energy result from primal masses of dynamite exploding.
A big bang indeed.


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