Friday, May 15, 2009

Rushing Roulette

After giving my lesson on atmospheric refraction and mirages last week, I decided that the accompanying preso needed some Warner Brothers cartoon clips of hallucinations posing as mirages. It's a cartoon staple: character crawls through desert and becomes delirious with dehydration, then spots an oasis, makes a run for it and dives straight into... a pile of sand.

Since my web video-fu is such that I can reel in most video that I find useful, I set out to find a Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck desert mirage oasis dive. My initial attempts did not meet with success.

But I did come across a Road Runner cartoon called "Chaser on the Rocks" wherein Wile E. Coyote dives into a hallucination located directly above a slot canyon.

But it was from the Dark Ages of Warner Brothers cartoons: the mid-60s. Jack Warner closed down the animation studio in 1963, and the cartooning was essentially outsourced. Lower frame rates, canned music (rather than scored music), poor story-writing, poor directing, even poor openings and closings were the hallmarks of this disgraceful era.

No cartoons of this era warranted inclusion in any of the six Golden Collection DVD sets released by WB.

Someone had uploaded what seemed to be the entirety of the Road Runner oeuvre to YouTube. Before it was yanked by Warner Brothers, I clicked through all the episodes I hadn't seen. No doubt my eyeballs turned into spinning spirals as I watched.

Most were forgettable. All the Road Runner cartoons from the Dark Age used the same "theme music," a tiresome, trite twinkle of a tune that's likely to be found in Dick Cheney's Abu Ghraib iPod playlist.

But Episode 28, "Rushing Roulette" had a some usable moments.

Here's a video embed which may not last long. Just remember: it's Road Runner 28 - Rushing Roulette.

And here are some notes for using various vignettes in a physics course. There are moments involving elastic, kinetic, and potential energy, friction and normal force, energy conservation, geometric optics, and lift (helicopter propulsion). A nice mix.

And don't forget Dan Burns' Road Runner Physics page.


Len said...

I've used the Bugs Bunny short Hare We Go when I teach circular motion/orbital mechanics. There's a scene in which Bugs proves to Christopher Columbus that the world is round by throwing a baseball around it, the ball returns with stickers from various locales.

You can talk about the actual time it would take for a low-orbiting object to return, or what the radius of the Earth in the cartoon must have been, etc.

Dean Baird said...

Hare We Go, you say? Don't keep us in suspended animation... you big is Bugs' world?

Len said...

Yay, thanks -- I tried to find the video where I left it two years ago, on the WB site (I think), but it's all reorganized to annoy. You can bet the WB will issue a take-down to YouTube for that one, when they find it.

The baseball makes it around in about 11 s.
Assuming the Earth has the same mass, Bugs' world has a radius of about 107 km. Of course that creates some problems with local gravitational field strength... Of we go to calculate g!

Dean Baird said...

You can bet the WB will issue a take-down to YouTube for that one, when they find it.On an unrelated note, I've become a fan of KeepVid.

Len said...

Yes, totally unrelated. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Another spot to look for videos is Clipser which has downloading built in. That said, it doesn't have porn filtering like YouTube, so be careful.