Since I'm being whipped for life anyway.

Tim Byars (
Thu, 07 Mar 1996 14:53:52 -0800

Cartoon Laws of Physics

-----------------------------Cartoon Law I

Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made
aware of its situation.

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
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 outsize 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 its perimeter.

Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the
speciality of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of 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 capture 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

-----------------------------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 a problem of art, not of

-----------------------------Cartoon Law VIII

Any 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 moments of blinking self pity, they reinflate,
elongate, snap back, or solidify.

Corollary: A cat will assume the shape of its 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 also applies to the
physical world at large. For that reason, we need the relief of
watching it happen to a duck instead.

-----------------------------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

-----------------------------Cartoon Law Amendment B

The laws of object permanence are nullified for "cool" characters.
Characters who are intended to be "cool" can make previously
nonexistent 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

Explosive weapons cannot cause fatal injuries. They merely turn
characters temporarily black and smoky.

-----------------------------Cartoon Law Amendment D

Gravity is transmitted by slow-moving waves of large wavelengths.

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

-----------------------------Cartoon Law Amendment E

Dynamite is spontaneously generated in "C-spaces" (spaces in which
cartoon laws hold).

The process is analogous to steady-state theories of the
universe which postulated 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.


Every word I said is what I mean | Now I know why you've been shaking Everything I gave is what I need, | Now I know why you've been shaking, Virgin Eyes and dirty looks | So bleed your heart out On what I have and why I took, | There's no more rides for free, I said what's in it for me? I said what's in it for me? ... yeah Cornell

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