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#954642 - Sun Dec 09 2012 06:39 PM Physics question, purely out of curiosity
Tizzabelle Offline

Registered: Sun Jan 17 2010
Posts: 2507
Loc: Sydney NSW Australia         
In the movie 'JFK' from 1991, Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) says that
'Theoretical physics can prove that an elephant can hang from a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy.'

It's 21 years since I saw the movie for the first time and that line still has me curious. Is it true that in theory, an elephant can hang from a daisy as described?
Here's the relevant clip.
A platypus lays eggs and produces milk - it can make its own custard wink

#954651 - Sun Dec 09 2012 07:26 PM Re: Physics question, purely out of curiosity [Re: Tizzabelle]
ozzz2002 Online   FT-cool

Registered: Mon Dec 03 2001
Posts: 18900
Loc: Sydney NSW Australia        
I think it is just a case of highlighting the weakness of the Magic Bullet theory, by ridicule. I imagine that the only way an elephant could be supported by a daisy would be if said elephant was named Dumbo. smile
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#954653 - Sun Dec 09 2012 08:04 PM Re: Physics question, purely out of curiosity [Re: ozzz2002]
mehaul Offline
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Registered: Wed Feb 03 2010
Posts: 6501
Loc: Florida USA
I think that time plays a big role in this situation. Until the stem of the daisy breaks, there is truth to saying it can hold an elephant. As time goes by, the probability that you will find the stem still holding the elephant up will be less and less.
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#989808 - Thu Jun 20 2013 11:04 PM Re: Physics question, purely out of curiosity [Re: Tizzabelle]
nautilator Offline

Registered: Mon Jan 09 2012
Posts: 654
Loc: Pennsylvania USA
I find that movies tend to ridicule things too difficult for the average person to understand, and those sort of claims are generally a type of defense mechanism for ignorance.

Seriously... science is about observing and making sense of reality, not claiming whatever you feel like being true. And the thing about that is that we normally live over a very small band of reality, so things that "shouldn't" be true end up becoming true, often under conditions far more extreme than we're used to in everyday life. Sometimes it makes a difference in ways we don't yet realize, like how the relativity correction factor has turned out to be important for GPS satellites.

If you were to replace that particular quote with something more like "theoretical physics can prove that a liquid can drip through a completely solid container as if it wasn't there, and start flowing up walls" would you think you were just being bs'd? Well, what if I showed it to you actually happening?

People only believe what they can see or comprehend, reality be damned.

#989843 - Fri Jun 21 2013 02:28 AM Re: Physics question, purely out of curiosity [Re: Tizzabelle]
Chavs Offline

Registered: Fri Jul 15 2011
Posts: 1125
Loc: Ireland
I googled for 'elephant daisy cliff tail' and found a book that is a collection of vaudeville jokes, and it includes the phrase about the elephant. So it's an old line; perhaps used in some circles as shorthand for nonsense? Maybe it's even a cliche?

I didn't laugh at the joke. I don't get it. Page 106

Teacher: Give me an example of non-sense
Johnny: An elephant hanging over a cliff with his tail tied to daisy.

Edit: (Maybe the joke is that it's not a sensible or common sense thing for an elephant to do.)

Edited by Chavs (Fri Jun 21 2013 03:59 AM)

#1013669 - Wed Oct 02 2013 10:43 PM Re: Physics question, purely out of curiosity [Re: Tizzabelle]
mountaingoat Offline

Registered: Fri Jun 22 2007
Posts: 390
Loc: Blue Mountains NSW Australia
He meant on the moon. He was just ahead of his time.


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