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25 September 2004 @ 01:17 am
Fanfiction silliness  
Multiple-choice quiz time!

Say you have an average-sized woman facing off against a guy who's at least 6 feet tall and built like a tank. She manages to kick him in the back. Assuming that this fight is taking place on earth and not in the Matrix or anything like that, what happens?

1. It doesn't seem to affect him at all.
2. He falls forward.
3. He falls on his back and his sword launches itself into the chest of some innocent bystander.

I think you can guess what teh winnar is here. Sure, every writer has to start somewhere, but I can't help but snerk at such a blatant violation of the laws of physics, especially because the first thing it brought to mind was Mortal Kombat: Annihilation with its fight scenes full of people randomly flying in all directions.
Current Mood: amusedamused
Skurtchasorskurtchasor on September 25th, 2004 07:45 am (UTC)
Since I'm occasionally possessed by the wandering spirits of fanfic writers (evidence here and especially here), I'll play Devil's Advocate on this one....

I don't think the size difference is quite so important. While it's unlikely she can impart enough momentum to send him flying through the air (calcuations left as an exercise for the reader), a well-placed kick could certainly place him off-balance. From there, it's a matter of his own reflexes and coordination, but if he's going to fall, it's unlikely to be backwards.

Now, um, that sword thing....was he holding it? Was it sheathed in his belt? At any rate, if the bystander is ten feet away (which seems rather close), the sword needs to be launched at a speed of at least 12mph, which isn't entirely unrealistic. Double that to 20 feet, and you're looking for at least a 55mph launch. If they're in a large arena, things are less believable--the horizontal distance for a projectile is (v^2 * sin(2A))/32, where v is the launch velocity in feet per second, and A is the launch angle measured from horizontal.
Of course, few fanfic writers are probably thinking about the things (unless they also happen to be physicists).

The sword coming down at a good angle for impaling? Theoretically possible, but violates this sily thing called verisimilitude.
The Heavy Metal Matador: frylockrydain on September 25th, 2004 11:23 am (UTC)
OMG math is hard!!111! and riting is to!!!
Yeah, falling over is actually believable. The main reason I mentioned the size difference is that if the guy were to fall on his back from a single kick, the kick would have to knock his lower body out from under him, and I didn't think that a smallish person would be likely to generate enough force to accomplish that in one blow to the back because she would be kicking at or above his center of gravity. If it said she kicked him in the leg or whatnot, she could conceivably knock the leg out from under him enough to get him to fall backward.

To answer your questions, he was holding the sword, and it didn't say how far away the bystander was. It did say it went into his chest and not his abdomen, so it would have to have been going fast enough to generate enough force to slice through the poor guy's ribcage. (It's a scimitar, not a dagger or something small that could have slipped through the ribs.) Even assuming a very sharp blade, this extra amount of force would be non-trivial. And, to generate said force, the blade would have to be accelerating when it reached the guy.

I had forgotten about that projectile distance equation (assuming I had even learned it in the first place - I can't remember, as it's been 7 years since mechanical physics class). See, busting on random silliness is indeed edumacational! =P