The Cartoon Laws of Physics

Cartoon Law 1

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 more familiar principles of gravity take over.

Cartoon Law 2

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 catalyses this reaction.

Cartoon Law 3

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 of stairs
to attempt to catch it unbroken.

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

Cartoon Law 4

The psychic force of emotions, such as fear,
is sufficient in most creatures
for unwanted surprises to negate the principles of gravity
and propel their bodies directly away from the earth's surface.

A spooky noise or the sudden presence of an adversary will induce upward motion, 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 often never touch the ground, especially when fleeing.

Cartoon Law 5

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 6

Certain bodies can pass through solid walls
painted to resemble tunnel entrances;
others cannot.

This inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it is well documented 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.

Cartoon Law 7

Any violent rearrangement of feline matter
is not permanent.

Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than might be afforded by the traditional nine lives. 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 1:
A cat will assume the shape
of its container.

Corollary 2:
Daffy Duck is indestructible
no matter how many times his beak spins around his head
as he is turned into a staggering but still standing,
smoldering, featherless heap of duck meat
after Elmer Fudd blasts him point blank with a shot gun.

Cartoon Law 8

For every vengeance
there is an equal and opposite

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

[author and source unknown]

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