Jump to content


Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
  • comments
  • views


Sign in to follow this  


Remember those cartoon kids shows where lightning bolts sent you flying into the sky with your pants on fire? I’m talking about a Team Rocket blasting off again sort of scenario. I always thought those were pretty funny, but how would they work in real life?


Let’s assume that by the Laws of Disney magic, being struck with lightning instantly converts all of its energy into kinetic energy for the object hit. So, a 50 kg cartoon character gets pegged. The average lightning bolt has about 5 GJ of electrical energy in it, and contact lasts only about 30 µs. The character starts at rest. Kinetic Energy = .5mv^2, so we can calculate the new speed of the character to be 14,142.14 m/s. Let’s say this is actually James from Team Rocket, so of course he shoots up into the air at an angle of about 75° with the ground. Using the kinematics equations this time we can find that his maximum height is about 9,510,832.84 m.


I guess they were right all along: James would disappear almost instantly, like a flash in the sky. Huh.

Sign in to follow this  

1 Comment

Recommended Comments

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Terms of Use

The pages of APlusPhysics.com, Physics in Action podcasts, and other online media at this site are made available as a service to physics students, instructors, and others. Their use is encouraged and is free of charge. Teachers who wish to use materials either in a classroom demonstration format or as part of an interactive activity/lesson are granted permission (and encouraged) to do so. Linking to information on this site is allowed and encouraged, but content from APlusPhysics may not be made available elsewhere on the Internet without the author's written permission.

Copyright Notice

APlusPhysics.com, Silly Beagle Productions and Physics In Action materials are copyright protected and the author restricts their use to online usage through a live internet connection. Any downloading of files to other storage devices (hard drives, web servers, school servers, CDs, etc.) with the exception of Physics In Action podcast episodes is prohibited. The use of images, text and animations in other projects (including non-profit endeavors) is also prohibited. Requests for permission to use such material on other projects may be submitted in writing to info@aplusphysics.com. Licensing of the content of APlusPhysics.com for other uses may be considered in the future.

  • Create New...