Rockford exhibit examines how Daffy does what he does -- and more.
Have you noticed that the animated antics of roadrunners and little black ducks defy the laws of physics? Perhaps it is the realization of these inconsistencies that make us laugh.
Members of the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers were inspired to publish the “Cartoon Laws of Physics” in 1994. Since then, cartoon physics has been a topic of Internet discussion.
Cartoon gravity, for example, doesn’t always work. Cartoon Law 1 states that a body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.
This happens when the cartoon character walks off a cliff. That toon just continues walking until he/she/it happens to look down, then he begins to fall.
But gravity still is not quite right. Cartoon aficionados notice that, many times, the character’s feet fall first and the rest of the body stays in place as the legs stretch out. The legs fall and the torso elongates. Finally, only the character’s head remains motionless at the edge of the cliff, just long enough for a whimper or a goodbye wave.
Cliff edges are not the only cartoon contexts in which gravity fails. “Air brakes” can halt the descent of a plane. And everything falls faster than an anvil; that’s Cartoon Law 9.
Gravity can be overcome by fear. It only takes a sudden sound to propel a frightened feline ceiling-high with enough force to impale the plaster with its claws.
Cartoon cats have great resilience. Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent. Whether enduring an explosion or getting pleated like an accordion, after a few moments, the cat always goes back to normal. This is Law 8. The corollary: A cat always takes the shape of its container.
You are familiar with Cartoon Law 3, the silhouette of passage: Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter. Cartoon characters that run through a wall leave a cookie-cutter hole of themselves behind ... unless there’s a painted tunnel involved. Certain bodies can pass through solid objects painted to resemble tunnel entrances, others cannot. This is Law 7, and cartoon physicists still puzzle over why the painter of the tunnel cannot pass through it. Even on the rare occasion that the artist can enter the tunnel, he must immediately turn back to avoid the train coming out of the tunnel he just painted.
Discovery Center Museum celebrates Cartoon Day 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 29. Watch professional cartoonists draw pictures that move. Come in your PJs and watch cartoons on the big screen. We’ll bring the cereal. All activities are included with museum admission: $5 adults, $4 children, members free. For more information, call 815-963-6769.