The Laws of Cartoon Physics Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Laws of Cartoon Physics

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The world of cartoons appears at first sight to be a world identical to our own. Once you get past the fact that animals can talk, people only have three fingers on each hand and primary colours abound, the surroundings look normal and familiar. But if one day you wake up in Cartoon World, beware - the laws of Newtonian mechanics, and indeed many other laws, will no longer apply. Survival in this world is more or less assured, since no-one ever actually gets killed, but if you want an easier life than Wile E Coyote, here's what you need to know.

You Have an Infinite Number of Lives

You can be thrown off a cliff, crushed by an anvil, sawn into a dozen pieces, or be subjected to any number of accidents that would kill you in the human world, but in Cartoon World, you always survive, and indeed, come back for more punishment. This fact alone may have more bearing on what you decide to do in Cartoon World than anything else.

Your Body is Completely Malleable

Your body can be bent, stretched or flattened into any shape. This may prove useful when you want to flow in through a letter box, but really comes into its own if you are run over by a steam roller, when you can be peeled off, folded into a paper aeroplane, and thrown. When you land you will pop back into shape. The same malleability protects you from attack: for example, if a bomb you are holding goes off, you will sustain little damage. You are, however, expected to turn your blackened face to the camera and blink.

Motion Causes Space to Fold in upon Itself

The act of pursuing the person who gave you the bomb will cause the background to become a Mo┬Ębius strip. For example, in a house, despite running an incredible distance in a straight line, you will continue to pass the same sofa and standard lamp many times. Paradoxically, you will not be any nearer the front door.

You Do Not Fall down until You Realise You are Unsupported

When you run over the edge of a cliff, you will be able to run several paces before you realise something is wrong. You will remain suspended in mid-air until you look down. You can use the suspended moment to turn to the camera and gulp, but you will still fall.

You Can Invisibly Carry Objects of Any Size

If someone threatens you with a hand gun, you can reach into a previously unnoticed pocket and produce a machine gun. Unfortunately, by the same token, they can then produce a cannon. At this point, you can either decide to get a tank from your pocket, or carry out one of the manoeuvres described below.

Painting an Object Makes it Real

Should you find yourself in a threatening situation with no means of escape, you can produce a pot of paint and a brush from one of your aforementioned pockets, and paint a doorway which you can then step through to safety. Although it may seem that your opponent could just follow you, when he steps through, there will be a cliff on the other side. (See above)

To Every Action There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction

Despite its Newtonian sound, this law has nothing to do with Sir Isaac. More elaborately, if you paint a tunnel because the car you are in is about to hit a rock face, once you enter the tunnel, you will be met by the biggest truck on the planet going in the opposite direction. However, if you are run over by it, you can just invoke the first two laws. And so the cycle repeats until it's bedtime in Cartoon World.

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