I am pleased to announce that this blog is now featured in Method (The Best Science Blogs). In honor of being accepted into the science blog community, we promise to continue to obey the laws of thermodynamics, especially for closed systems. For open systems (such as the universe perhaps?) all bets are off.
I'm referring, of course, to one of Homer Simpson's most famous quotes about science, addressed to Lisa after she constructs a perpetual motion device, "In this house we OBEY the laws of thermodynamics."
The subject of physics in cartoons is curious indeed. Animators generally strive for physical realism-having their creations obey the law of gravity, the principle of inertia and so forth-unless they are trying to generate visual humor. Then they often veer in the opposite direction, deliberately trying to break the laws of physics to generate a chuckle or two. For example a rock dropping on the Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons is allowed to break the Galilean principle of bodies accelerating at equal rates. The rock might either hesitate or plunge at an unrealistically faster and faster pace, depending on which scenario is funnier.
In 1980, humorist Mark O' Donnell published a piece in Esquire magazine entitled "The Laws of Cartoon Motion. It includes gems such as "Any body suspended in space will remain suspended in space until made aware of its situation" and "All principles of gravity are negated by fear."
Here's a link to the full list:
The Laws of Cartoon Motion
The Simpsons is one of the few cartoons that includes verbal and situational, as well as visual, jokes about science. Hence, this "Science on the Simpsons" blog. So, for those of you just joining us, a hearty welcome and a scientific "woo hoo!"