Alison Von Doom (wimpdork) wrote in askme,
Alison Von Doom
wimpdork
askme

the physics of cartoons

So, I was watching Scooby Doo today (I was in vegetable-mode, leave me alone), and they were trying to escape the "Miner 49'er" in the mine shafts beneath the town. Cue typical Scooby Doo running around and "YOINKS!"ing. Okay. Fun stuff.

Anyway, there were two linked mine cars, and Scooby and Shaggy hopped in the front car and it started down the sloping track (about 45 degrees or so). Of course, after they expressed their relief at having escaped the ghost miner, he popped up out of the rear car. "RRR!" Scooby Doo pulled the peg holding the cars together, the front car sped a bit away, and then the track leveled out and they did this weird back and forth side view of several tracks, much like the old "hallway lined with doors" back and forth thing.

With me, here?

Okay. Now my question, if it is such, is on the validity of the science of this. Because I did not get enough science in high school, and literally can't figure it out myself. All I can do is speculate.

Taking into consideration the combined weight of Scooby and Shaggy, and the weight of the Old Man Whitaker type in the suit, and the slope, and the cars, and the waxing moon, would they pull forward? And when the track leveled out, would they remain ahead? Would friction slow them down more than the bad guy, or would their extra weight give them more of an edge? Who would get more distance?

Crap, this sounds like a grade school math problem. But I am curious, and I want real answers!
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It's possible. Y'ever push two shopping carts together? Well, if one of them had a wonky wheel that was gummed up or some such, your speed would be limited by the lesser car. Scooby and Shaggy were just lucky that their rusty old decrepit mine car had freshly greased wheels.

More than that, I couldn't tell you without coefficients of friction and masses.