Sunday, October 30, 2011
Garfield does math
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.
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.