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September 29, 2011

Dear Dave,

A friend of mine recently posted the following quotation of yours as her Facebook status:

"Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 ft/sec, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter."

Since it was a boring day at work I decided to quibble thusly in response: "I may be quibbling, but wouldn't that particular animal be above the earth until the moment of impact at which point it's velocity is dramatically reduced?" A fair point I feel, if perhaps not in the intended spirit.

My friend replied: "You are quibbling and maybe one day, after spending many years seeking out Dave Barry, you can tell him that you have a 'quibble' to take up with him :)" Challenge accepted. I would like to inform you, sir, that I have a quibble to take up with you.   Namely, a cow dropped from a helicopter does not qualify (for the reason stated above) as the fastest animal on Earth.  I realize that this claim was made by "scientists" but perhaps you could be so kind as to reveal your source.


Scott Mullenix

Ottawa, ON, Canada

Dear Scott --

No offense, but: You idiot. The cow is still going very, very fast when it makes contact with -- and is therefore "on" -- the Earth. This was verified by a groundbreaking experiment conducted in 1953 by Albert Einstein at a cocktail party.

You're welcome,

Dave Barry, Ph.D.


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Next year at Anderson's, we'll drop a cow from a helicopter to prove the point. What could possibly go wrong?

I have to get the GPS setting for the center of the Apple Store across the street so we can have the best vantage point.

As God is my witness, I thought cows could fly.

udder nonsense

That guy there, the quibbler, would probably complain if you hung him with a new rope!

Was that Bob Einstein's brother Albert?

I say we drop Scott from a helicopter and set some new records.

Quibbler, if you ever watch a cheeta run most of the time he/she doesn't have any part of their anatomy (feet) on the ground either. Dr. Barry is quite correct in his scientific assessment.

Another scientific point - the cow has reached that limit known as terminal velocity or something to that effect. I suspect that term was coined to describe the cow's condition upon being "on" (in?) earth.

*putting scientist hat on*...Dave, I agree with your "instantaneous velocity" argument, but the cow is probably going FASTER than you thought! Factoring in whether the cow is wearing Chick-Fil-A advertising (which affects drag), bovine terminal velocity is between 173 to 250 feet per second (depending on whether the cow is using flatulence-jet boost)!

As a scientist, I insist that this be tested immediately on a suitable target, such as Washington.

I assume in this case that "Ph.D" after Dave's name stands for "PETA hates dreadfully."

I always heard the Al was a lot of fun at cocktail parties.

Not many people know that "Professor Barry" is "Dave", not "Barry". I saw him grading papers last night. He's even Dean of the Snorkology Department and President of The University Of Montana.

Didnt' Wile E. Coyote try this stunt on the road runner?

It is not in fact a problem that the cow hits the earth. It is the fact that the earth hits it back.

Newton's 3rd Law.

PS We should try it on our individual congress critters to see if it works everytime.

An African or a European cow?

The back half of the cow is still moving rapidly as the front half touches earth.

Kinda like the joke....what's the first thing that goes through a bug's mind when it hits your windshield?

Its butt.

If the cow was carrying a coconut at the time, it was an African cow.

One key aspect of science is reproducibility so, yes, we should try it again. Science demands it.


Terminal Velocity & The Quibbler WBAGNFA Nic Cage movie.

danceswvowels - an excellent example of Dave's erudition.

"as God as my witness, I thought cows could fly"

I don't think I've ever laughed more loudly at an item on Dave's blog. Barvo!*

*Literally, "ouch".

Oh Dr. Dave has a PhD in what? Must be Dr. of humor. Besides milk, cows are good for cow patties.

sorry, "you idiots's" all around.

the fastest animal on earth is my daughter, about ten years ago, sitting on the beach in north carolina when she apparently disturbed a crab that was buried in the sand...

Voila! Instant hamburger.
The guy who pushes it out is the Helper.

Am I crazy or is there a strange resemblence between Alfred E Newman and our Prez? Of course there was a resemblence between W and him too? Disturbing - do all of our Prezes look like him?

even if it was stated twice still gotta snork over the reference to WKRP. too funny

What if the cow falls onto the bullet train?

mudstuffin, I too have reached maximum speeds while running away from a crab buried in the sand at a North Carolina beach. I just noticed that our county fair has started and they are offering helicopter rides. I will be happy to replicate this experiment if you all want me to. Of course I will have to use an artificial cow since it might upset the kids to see a real cow falling. It should cost me around $100. $15.00 for the helicopter ride and $85.00 to win the artificial cow at one of the games.

NotSherly, that'd be hard to track.

I will also graciously take pictures and send them to the Blog. One of us, probably the cow, will be naked. It's supposed to be in the 30's later this week.

Yes, MOTW, that idea is probably off track.

NC- don't forget to call out "Cowabunga" before the drop.

We hearby interrupt this blog for an important announcement: Exploding toilets injure 2 federal workers

Guin, linky no worky....

Exploding toilets injure 2 federal workers, which I think was blogged about yesterday.

Sucky linkage. :( The terrorists have won.

i feel the earth mooooooove under my feet
i see a cow
tumbling down
tumbling down

Question for this guy Mullenix. What's it feel like to be an idiot?

Holds lighter up for sandy...

Don't care what you drop, it falls at 32 ft / sec squared.

@Skunky--Drag, the density of the air, and the projected area of the falling object alter that--which is why skydiving cows fall faster when they "tuck in" their legs, and why a parachute and a cannonball fall at different rates.

'What if the cow falls onto the bullet train?' - NotSherly

hopefully it would land on the cowcatcher

*snork* @ Sandy.


I wonder if this is an example of evolution in action. The fastest animal on earth used to be a pig. Back in the 50s the US Air Force used to put pigs into rocket sleds and shoot them down railroad tracks (strapped tightly into the sled, otherwise the pigs woud fly) at easily 5 times the speed of falling cows. Then the scientists discovered Murphy's Law and no longer are pigs on rocket sleds the fastest animals on earth.

I wonder if this is an example of evolution in action. The fastest animal on earth used to be a pig. Back in the 50s the US Air Force used to put pigs into rocket sleds and shoot them down railroad tracks (strapped tightly into the sled, otherwise the pigs woud fly) at easily 5 times the speed of falling cows. Then the scientists discovered Murphy's Law and no longer are pigs on rocket sleds the fastest animals on earth.

Difference between a picnic and a picknit -- The distribution of the hamburger, taking into account standard deviations and whutnut.

Speaking of nitpicking, the quibbler's clause, "at which point it's velocity is dramatically reduced" suffers from an obvious deviation. Yes, since the cow's direction is essentially unchanged, it's more proper to speak of the scalar speed, rather than the vector velocity. Perhaps Scott should drop the beef and stick with oatmeal.

Cows are, indeed, very fast. They also stop veeeeery quickly.

A new question must be asked. Which will fall faster, the aforementioned cow or the patties the cow pooped on being pushed out of the chopper?

Gary Larson and I were at Einstein's fateful cocktail party. Sadly, only Gary put the information to good use. I went into journalism.

Ooh, I bet you're wondering how (now?) I knew
About you're plans to 'push the moo'...
With some other guy that you knew before.
You flew real high
Then pushed it out the door!
It took me by surprise I must say,
When I found out yesterday.
Don't you know that
I herd about the bovine
Not much longer would it be fine.
Oh I herd about the bovine,
Oh and I'm just about to lose my mind.
Honey, honey yeah.

Everyone know that cows have almost no mass, travel at close to the speed of light and pass right through the Earth without slowing down in the slightest. On second thought, that might be neutrinos. ( I sometimes get confused, since I took Physics and Ag Science the same year. )

"Assume a spherical chicken ..."

Slinks in®

Professor Dave is always right.

*SNORK* @ sandy!

...and not to stray off topic, but in reference to your Greater Chicago post: Naperville doesn't even HAVE aldermen...at least not the kind you can buy here. You can live in Real Chicago for 68 years and never set foot in Naperville (although if you ionsist on turning up there, I might have to break with tradition.)

Okay...back to the Falling Cows (didn't they open for Counting Crows?)

That would be ITS velocity, not "it's." Hmf.

Douglas Adams said it best: Being weightless is easy. It involves nothing more than throwing yourself at the ground, and missing.

If the cow was being hauled to the airport, in a trailer, going 76 mph, would they have to stop it for a moo-ving violation?

Now playing: Johnny Be-Cud!

Yes, Guin. As I said earlier, perhaps Scott should drop the beef and stick with (a somewhat different flavor of) oatmeal.

I always thought that the fastest animal on earth was a chicken, after being shot from an air cannon. They actually use air-powered chickens to test jet engines and airplane windows. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_gun

I understand that thawed chickens work much better than frozen.

Still, the fastest thing on earth is the speed at which our government spends money.

Actually we all know that the cow SPEEDS UP as it approaches the earth as demonstrated by that great physicist Chuck Jones.

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