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Chapter 3. Principles of Animation > The Laws of Motion Applied to Wile E. Coyo...

The Laws of Motion Applied to Wile E. Coyote

Follow-through is not only a law of animation but also dictated by the laws of physics. Here are Newton's laws of motion translated from the original Latin Principia (1687) and illuminated (1998):

  1. Every body preserves in its state its state of rest or of uniform motion in a right line unless it is compelled to change that state by force impressed thereon.

    This law means that Wile E. Coyote does not move from his hiding place until he ignites the rocket strapped to his back. It also means that even after the rocket has expired, Wile E continues to roll on his skates toward the edge of the cliff at recklessly high speed. Deploying the parachute on the back of the rocket does create an opposing force and slows the rocket. Wile E.'s failure to wear a seat belt, however, means that he continues to hurtle toward the cliff at full speed.

  2. The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed and is made in the direction of the right line in which the force is impressed.

    Wile E., having applied all the forces of friction that he can muster with his feet and hands, aided by the downward force of gravity, comes to a complete stop. Unfortunately, this happens just after he passes the edge of the cliff. Gravity's downward force then takes over, rapidly accelerating Wile E. towards the base of the chasm below (at 32 feet per second squared).

  3. To every action, there is always opposed an equal reaction. Or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal and directed to contrary points.

    The rocket, having lost its parachute in the cacti, also skids off the cliff, following Wile E. during his plunge into the canyon. Wile E., seeing the rocket accelerating toward him, begins to blow frantically toward the rocket, which in fact applies a force that increases his distance from the nose of the rocket. Unfortunately, however, blowing upward also further accelerates his body downward. When he finally hits the ground, cre ating a deep coyote-shape hole in the earth's crust, the spent rocket enters the hole, catching up with him (and presumably colliding with him). The combined downward force of the two bodies creates a powerful reactive upward force, which creates a mushroom cloud of debris large enough to be visible from the cliffs above.


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