It has been argued that most of the great strides in theoretical physics had already been made as the twentieth century comes to a close. Yet, a neglected area of study are the physics governing behavior in cartoon land.
Below is a codification of some of the physical regularities governing that universe.
Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.
Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second squared takes over.
Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly.
Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the stooge's surcease.
Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter.
Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the specialty of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.
The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.
Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to capture it inevitably unsuccessful.
Gravity is negated by fear.
Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them directly away from the earth's surface. A spooky noise or an adversary's signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole.
The feet of a character who is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground, especially when in flight.
The number of locations an object can occupy at any point in time is increasing in that object's velocity.
This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a character's head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning or being throttled. A `wacky' character has the option of self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.
Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel entrances; others cannot.
This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generations. A corollary to this fact is that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space. I
A cat will assume the shape of its container.
Everything falls faster than an anvil.
A sharp object will always propel a character upward.
When poked (usually in the buttocks) with a sharp object (usually a pin), a character will defy gravity by shooting straight up, with great velocity.
The laws of object permanence are nullified for "cool" characters.
Dynamite is spontaneously generated in "C-spaces" (spaces in which cartoon laws hold). The process is analogous to steady-state theories of the universe which postulated that the tensions involved in maintaining a space would cause the creation of hydrogen from nothing. Dynamite quanta are quite large (stick sized) and unstable (lit). Such quanta are attracted to psychic forces generated by feelings of distress in "cool" characters
The Road Runner can materialize signs to express himself without speaking.
Explosive weapons cannot cause fatal injuries. They merely turn characters temporarily black and smoky.
Gravity is transmitted by slow-moving waves of large wavelengths.
This operation can be witnessed by observing the behavior of a canine suspended over a large vertical drop. Its feet will begin to fall first causing its legs to stretch. As the wave reaches its torso, that part will begin to fall, causing the neck to stretch. As the head begins to fall, tension is released and the canine will resume its regular proportions until such time as it strikes the ground.