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Cartoon Laws of Physics
1. Cartoon Law I
Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its
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
2. 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.
3. Cartoon Law III
Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation
conforming exactly 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 catalyses this reaction.
4. 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
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 science.
8. 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.
9. Cartoon Law IX
Everything falls faster than an anvil.
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