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Physics of a Valiant Death

Cheetay

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blog-0075521001367539341.jpgMy childhood, like many others, was spent watching many Disney Movies. One of my all time favorites was the Lion King- I never grew tired of it. One scene that always sticks in my mind is that once music number of young Simba and Nala and, of course, the scene of Mufasa's Death.

(0:49-1:20)

It can usually bring tears to even the toughest of teens, yes? As a child, this scene really never bothered me and, now, this sad scene seems to bother me so much more. Mufasa died a heroic, and untimedly, death by saving his only son.

However, we should move onto the Physics now. How accurate is Mufasa's death, exactly? Could a fall from that height really kill an adult male lion? How far did he fall, anyway? It's very hard to tell but, after reviewing this scene many times I feel I can give a good shot at answering these questions.

From what I can tell, Mufasa's fall lasted roughly 5 seconds (1:07-1:12ish), and started from rest before... Scar decided to be a jerk and condemn Mufasa to death.

So, using the equation d=vit+(1/2)at2, knowing his falling time was 5 seconds, he started from rest, and acceleration due to gravity is 9.81m/s2; It can be estimated that Simba's father fell about 123 meters. While he seemes to be fairly high before he fell, I highly doubt that the the distance (vaguely seen at 0:50) was taller than the Statue of Liberty.

Obviously, it makes sense why a Disney movie would over exaggerate the death of a character, and not care about making the Physics of a children's movie accurate. While real Lions are tough and resiliant, a fall like Mufasa's (even if less than 123meters) would still kill or severely injure an adult lion- not taking into account the stampeeding wildebeasts trampling.

So, as expected, Disney's The Lion King takes little care in being realistic... It was still interesting to think about, however! And imagine how cool (at least, I think so) it would be if a childhood classic was actually completely accurate- in a physics sense (because animal's can't talk).

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I still cry at that scene too and I'm not surprised that Disney exaggerated. But it's interesting how even at the hight Mufasa was on the cliff he would've still died so it's not completely inaccurate.

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This is very interesting. I never thought to look at the Lion King in such a scientific way

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