Battlepanda: The Cow-tipping point


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Cow-tipping point

What a topsy-turvey day. First, a news item that sounds like its straight out of Snopes, now a practice I've always taken for granted as an actual phenomenon exposed as an urban legend! Your friends of friends from college were most likely frauds -- it is just about impossible for a few drunken frat-boys to tip over a cow.
A cow of 1.45 metres in height pushed at an angle of 23.4 degrees relative to the ground would require 2,910 Newtons of force, equivalent to 4.43 people, she wrote.

Dr Lillie, Ms Boechler’s supervisor, revised the calculations so that two people could exert the required amount of force to tip a static cow, but only if it did not react.

“The static physics of the issue say . . . two people might be able to tip a cow,” she said. “But the cow would have to be tipped quickly — the cow’s centre of mass would have to be pushed over its hoof before the cow could react.”

Newton’s second law of motion, force equals mass multiplied by acceleration, shows that the high acceleration necessary to tip the cow would require a higher force. “Biology also complicates the issue here because the faster the [human] muscles have to contract, the lower the force they can produce. But I suspect that even if a dynamic physics model suggests cow tipping is possible, the biology ultimately gets in the way: a cow is simply not a rigid, unresponding body.”

Another problem is that cows, unlike horses, do not sleep on their feet — they doze. Ms Boechler said that cows are easily disturbed. “I have personally heard of people trying but failing because they are either using too few people or being too loud.

“Most of these ‘athletes’ are intoxicated.”

Now, all this is very well as theory. Why have those fine zoologists not gone into the field and tried out their theory? After all, if their calculations are correct, the cow would not be tipped over and thus there would be no cruelty involved.
(Via Elaine Supkis, whose original post is worth reading for her delightful anecdotes of her four-legged friends.)