Trope-ic Thunder: Learning Inertia Saves lives

Trope-ic Thunder BannerBy Drew Parton

Hey, everybody, recently a few pictures were leaked of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in the upcoming movie The Amazing Spiderman 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Many people on the internet have commented that it appears to be the wardrobe Gwen Stacy was wearing in the infamous Spiderman comic arc: The Night Gwen Stacy Died.the-amazing-spider-man-2-gwen-stacyIn the story, Norman Osborne, the Green Goblin, throws Gwen Stacy off a bridge- but Spidey’s quick enough to catch her with a web just in time! Unfortunately, reality ensues and the whiplash has snapped Gwen’s neck, killing her. When it premiered it was a groundshaking event in comic history and is still regarded as such today. This is also one of the few times in popular media where the writers actually applied the laws of inertia correctly (though be it to tragic consequences). Shit, I should have made the title “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!”

tumblr_m5xks5oURX1qeo9xqo1_500Inertia is a law of physics that says that any object with mass has a resistance to change its state of motion. In other words: an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion (given all forces are equal). It’s what you feel when you make a tight turn in your automobile and are pushed into the side of the door- the car has turned but your body is inclined to keep going along the original trajectory. In the Spiderman comic, Gwen’s body is descending at terminal velocity when Spiderman catches her foot with a web. The rest of her body, however continues to descend until the tension in the web causes her to stop suddenly and the whiplash kills her.

the-flash-artwork-4Most writers don’t know how falling works, you see- it’s not the fall that kills you, it doesn’t matter how far you fall, it matters how fast you’re going when that fall stops. This doesn’t necessarily mean that hitting the ground is the only thing that’ll kill you- pretty much most sudden stops are lethal once you get up to terminal velocity. Sudden acceleration is just as deadly. Whenever The Flash takes off running at Mach 3, the sudden acceleration causes physical injury akin to The Flash standing still and being hit by a car going Mach 3. He’d be fucking liquified.

Falling into water is often portrayed as a catch-all nullifier to inertia. It doesn’t matter how high you fall from, how long you fall, or how fast you were falling, if you fall into water, you’ll survive without a scratch. This could not be more horrifyingly wrong. I want you to go out and find a sufficiently deep-enough body of water and do a bellyflop into it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

imagesIf you didn’t do it, imagine a time when you’ve jumped into a pool or a lake and the impact of the water hurt. You were going actually pretty slowly for falling, imagine how much it’d hurt to hit that water going 120 miles per hour. It’d absolutely shatter your bones. That being said, falling into water is generally safer than falling into hard ground. If you entered very deep water and dive into it (reducing the amount of surface you hit), you would probably fare better than hitting cement. But not by much, a fall of 200 feet or more will most surely kill you whether you fall onto hard earth or water. Waterfalls are a slightly different matter, as the water coming down the falls breaks the surface tension of the water below, making it safer to fall in to.

This applies to waves as well, it may not seem like it- but water is fucking heavy. Water is roughly 800 times as dense as air and a cubic meter of water weighs almost a metric ton. Waves seen in such films as The Day After Tomorrow would topple buildings and level all of New York.Day After Tomorrow waveJoin me next week as I discuss Science tropes.

Also, be sure to check out my other column, where I review dumb-ass action films every Monday: Mindless Action Mondays

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If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does.

2 thoughts on “Trope-ic Thunder: Learning Inertia Saves lives

  1. Pingback: Trope-ic Thunder: Earth, Wind, And Fire- well, at least one of those. | Rooster Illusion

  2. Pingback: Trope-ic Thunder: I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman Part 1 | Rooster Illusion

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