Sunday, October 30, 2011

Garfield does math

And so do we

I always look at the comic sections of the newspapers I read, but I don't necessarily look at all of the comics. “Pearls Before Swine” always gets my attention, as does “Bizarro,” but others need to do something special to draw me in—like sprinkle their panels with numbers. “Garfield” did exactly that yesterday. (Is it true, as Stephan Pastis says, that cartoonists prefer to bury their weakest efforts in their Saturday strips?)

Everyone realizes, of course, that a giant mutant 98-year-old lady would be physically impossible, despite such earlier documentary evidence as Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Galileo's square-cube law should have put that notion to rest (but Hollywood prefers to honor that law in the breach). But let's allow Garfield the same leeway that movie producers get. Let's accept that a giant 98-year-old lady is driving her 32-story 1965 Bonneville into town, threatening the entire community.

The 1965 Bonneville was a gigantic (in its own way) vehicle over 18 feet in length. Its height was about 4.5 feet (with allowances for tire pressure and passenger load). In the comic strip, the giant old lady's Bonneville is said to be scaled up to 32 stories in height. While architects are allowed quite a bit of variation in what constitutes a “story,” we can use 10 feet as a reasonable mid-range measure. In other words, the giant old lady's car is 320 feet tall, or (divide by 4.5) over 71 times as tall as a regular Bonneville. That's big.

And if your 98-year-old great-grandmother is five foot two, she'd be nearly 370 feet tall if she were scaled up to be the little old lady in the car.


Now, about that turn-signal thing. Garfield says it's 16 feet tall (and blinking, of course). A look at the back end of a '65 Bonneville shows us that the rear lights were not quite half as tall as your basic license plate. If we call it 4 inches (being just a little generous—I don't have a Bonneville handy to actually measure), scaling it up by a factor of 71 results in 284 inches—or nearly 24 feet.

But Garfield said 16 feet. Oh, oh! But you know, that's probably good enough for the funny papers. Let's give him this one.


The Ridger, FCD said...

C'mon: it's Garfield. Rigor is not to be expected.

Anyway, probably yes. Saturday is the day the fewest people get a paper, since some people only get a week-day one (on their way to work), and some people only get a Sunday one (which is why Sunday story-line comics tends to either recap the week or else, like the Phantom, run an entirely different story on Sunday.

That's why it was sort of startling that Lu Ann of Apartment 3G actually accepted her boyfriend's proposal on Sunday a couple of weeks ago.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Anyway, Garfield's watching a movie, so of course "the same leeway that movie producers get" is called for.

Sili said...

It's the right order of magnitude.

Not bad for a throwaway joke, really.

Karen said...

But think of how much horsepower that Bonneville could make!

Zeno said...

I agree, Sili, which is what really prompted this post. I was amused at how close Jim Davis came to the right number. I wonder: did he do it off the top of his head?