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

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 catalyses 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

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 science.

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.