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4 Absurdly Specific Pop Culture Questions Answered by Fans

#2. How Fast Can Sonic the Hedgehog Run?

Sega

For years we've been told that Sonic runs at the speed of sound. Bullshit. If you compare their speeds in their first games, Mario actually runs faster than Sonic. And Sonic's top speed doesn't even approach the speed of sound. It's all a goddamn lie!

Just as Nick Greene measured Mario levels with Mario himself, the folks at the Game Theory video series measured Sonic's height in the 2006 game Sonic the Hedgehog (3 feet 7 inches) and used it to measure how many Sonics would stretch across Act 1 of Green Hill Zone (the very first Sonic level in the series): 236 Sonics, which is 259.6 meters. According to their research, the world record for completing Act 1 of Green Hill Zone is 25 seconds. At his fastest, Sonic runs 10 meters per second. At sea level, the speed of sound clocks in at 340.29 m/s. Not only does Sonic fail to even approach the sound barrier, but even with his stubby little legs, Mario's pudgy ass is twice as fast as Sonic.

Sega
Look at this smug fuck.

They also discovered that Sonic isn't even as fast as Doctor Robotnik. Whenever he flees from Sonic on foot, Sonic can never keep up. At one point in the first game, Robotnik goes from 0 to 60 in a quarter of a second fleeing from Sonic. Sonic can't even run at the speed of two fat guys. Sonic the Hedgehog is a crock of shit.

#1. Pretty Much Everything You'd Ever Want to Know About Spider-Man's Webs

Paramount Pictures

I proclaim Rhett Allain of Wired's Dot Physics blog the Internet's king of applying math to fiction. Want to know who's faster, the Flash or Quicksilver? Here's your answer. Want to know if Godzilla could ice skate? Here's your answer. Want to know if Superman could punch a person into space if he were so inclined? Here's your answer. This whole article could be made up of his articles alone. But instead, I'm choosing to focus on just one -- one that (quite complexly) answered questions I've had about Spider-Man's webs but have always been far too stupid, lazy, and a third thing to work through mathematically.

Allain began by trying to find out how strong the webs are based on a scene in one of the movies where Spider-Man uses his webs to catch a falling car. Using the momentum principle, he estimated that a falling car with an assumed mass of 2,000 kg with an assumed stopping time of 1 second and a final momentum of 0 would need to be stopped by a web with a tension of 39,200 Newtons. It would have to be thin enough to be fired from a small cylinder, thus ruling out large steel cables. That fits the description of carbon nanotube rope.

Nanocomp Technologies
An absolutely exhilarating picture of microscopic rope specks.

Then he tried to figure out how much webbing Spider-Man could carry with him. If Spider-Man's web shooter had the volume of a standard pencil, the pencil would need to be nearly 10.5 feet long for just one shot. Allain bumped the number of shots to 50 and calculated that Spider-Man would need web shooters the size of cinder blocks to contain all that webbing:

Wired.com/Rhett Allain

The process of finding out how fast the webs fire out of the shooters is long and complicated, and it involves multiple formulas and a program that simulates and charts motion and acceleration. If you're a physics major, read the original article and have a blast. For the rest of us, I'll cut to the chase: The webs would fire at around 54 mph, and a horizontal shot would have a range of 58.5 meters, close to 200 feet. There. Now we can all rest easy knowing that a fake person's wrist splooge travels just under the speed limit of most major highways.


Luis is busy applying math to Smurf sex patterns. In the meantime, drop him a line on Twitter and Tumblr.

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