A friend posted this image to Facebook, and I got to wondering...
Normally, the rocket would explode, like Macy's Fourth of July fireworks, or Wile E. would crash into the earth, leaving a giant crater, or, if the animator is really cruel, Wile E. would stand up, unscathed, count his blessings, and then the crushed rocket would explode, obliterating Wile E. with a small mushroom cloud. Or hurtling him skyward, most likely to fall back into the blazing inferno.
The longer I looked at this image, the more I realized... if that rocket doesn't explode (and normally, it would do so at about 2000 feet), then most likely the following will occur:
- A rocket need only travel about 25,000 mph to escape the Earth's gravity. But that's unlikely for Wile E., even with cartoon physics. At the very least, all that would remain is his skeleton, and even that would be scattered to the winds unless strapped to the rocket.
- A cannonball has an initial speed of about 225 mph. Unprotected humans can stand about 150 mph, as seen at various roller coasters. A cartoon coyote? Certainly he can handle higher speeds. However, if he has pierced the cloud layer, then he's in commercial airspace, where breathing becomes difficult. (It's already difficult to breathe if you're travelling at a high velocity.) So, most likely, if he doesn't hit a commercial airliner, he'll probably asphyxiate. Depending on the altitude, his body might be cremated due to air friction as it returns to Earth. Or it's obliterated upon landfall. (Height of 5500 meters, 20 kg coyote... about 325 mph, 1 million joules, without friction, but terminal velocity is about 200 mph.)
- How much thrust is required to place a 20kg coyote that high in the atmosphere? Given the rocket pictured, what sort of propellant would be needed? Sputnik weighed 84kg, and that was scaled down due to the weakness of the R-7 rockets. The height of the rocket was 29 meters, and that was to place the satellite in an orbit 139 miles above the Earth.
I'll leave it to scholars of physics to contemplate what variables would be required to create a coyote-shaped cookie-cutter hole upon impact, and how deep the resulting hole would be, given an average sample of geology in the American southwest.
Some other musings:
- What if there were multiple coyotes? That is, each coyote dies or is incapacitated after each attempt to catch the Road Runner.
- What if Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, espied the nuclear testing occurring nearby? What if he actually contributed to research at Los Alamos during the War? (And later, at White Sands and Redstone, testing rocket design?)