Tipping Point

Physicists never cease to amaze me. Not only will they spend time, money and a lot of effort on pursuing such important matters as why a spaghetti never breaks in two, they will go even further.

Whereas a mathematician would be more than happy to reduce a problem to an already solved one and spend the rest of the afternoon drinking coffee and trying to prove Goldbach’s conjecture, a physicist will not stop just because something is proven to be impossible.

Take cow-tipping, for example. It’s a well-known fact that it is impossible to sneak up on a sleeping cow and tip it over for the simple reason that cows don’t sleep upright. They just don’t.

Luckily Matt Semke showed us using sophisticated rigid-body modelling that a single human would be unable to exert a force big enough to perform this prank even if they did. (Although two might stand a chance.)

There are two things that are worth noting here.
1. Whatever scientific career Matt Semke has had since or will have in the future, he will forever be famous as “the cow-tipping guy”.
2. Observe the picture labelled “Back View of Cow”. I admire the accuracy with which the author managed to grasp and convey to us the very essence of cowness (or is it cowdom?)

There’s only one thing I don’t understand about the whole subject. What’s all that fuss about fly-tipping then?

To be honest, I could’ve also gone the other way around, starting out with fly-tipping and how disgusting it is to throw your waste around and whatnot, then close it with this rather cheap pun in reverse. It would’ve been more gruesome as well, describing how they’d chuck a cow into a ditch out of the window of a speeding Ford Fiesta.

Er…I’m afraid I’ve ruined the punchline somewhat with this informational remark. It’s a good job it wasn’t very good anyway.


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