Funny fact: Fred Flinstone's feet would have ignited
When it came to Saturday-morning cartoons, very few of us put any critical thinking towards the shows we were watching. It's a hard to do that when you're seven or eight. You just stare at the television with a big smile on your face and anything that happens on the shows is right. It's just accepted. When Wile E. Coyote accidentally runs straight off a cliff and doesn't start falling until he looks down, that's fine. Those are the rules.
But when you grow up and start applying things like, well, logic and - gasp! - science, well the cartoon universe starts to show its true colours.
That's exactly what Kyle Hill did in a guest blog with Scientific American regarding Fred Flintstone and his wood-and-stone 'car'. Hill started making some general assumptions about things like how much the car weighed, how fast Fred could conceivably get the machine moving (40 km/h), and the condition of the roads. All of these played into figuring out if Fred's two - admittedly huge and probably thickly calloused - feet could conceivably stop the 865-kg machine.
Basically, Hill deduced that if Fred's feet were impervious to heat that he could stop the car in about eight metres, which isn't too shabby. But if we do take friction and its biggest byproduct - heat - into account, essentially Fred's feet would have ignited and burned, much like a failed landing gear on a commercial airplane.
Hill described the feeling Fred would encounter as similar to "standing on a belt sander, with an adolescent African elephant on your back."
In another exercise he links to in the original SA post, Hill also solves a physics question about how far Batman and the Joker would slide after a collision while fighting, which is another cool thing we never thought of either.
What do you think? What show/comic scenario would you like someone to try and answer using 'real' science? Or is this just a waste of time and we should leave our childhood heroes alone? Let us know!