Dynamo the Physics Stud
Wiley was not having a good day. Piloting Dynamo’s spacecraft in search of bargains on
washing machines was a job he was highly overqualified for. He glanced back at Dynamo and
grumbled. The space dog was relaxing in his solarium, enjoying an ice cold Lipton Tea, and
contemplating the grooviness of the universe. Wiley had just about had enough.
“Why is it that all you can do is sit there all day. I swear you haven’t moved in hours.”
Dynamo, being the great superhero and general physics stud that he was had a ready retort.
“Hey! I’m moving at several thousand miles per hour right now if my ship speedometer is
“Don’t get technical on me Dynamo, you know what I mean. Why can’t you just...”
Wiley was rudely interrupted by a blast that shook the entire ship. The ship had struck an asteroid
and was now plummeting towards the nearby planet Teldon 4.
“Jerry! What’s the damage report!” yelled Dynamo.
“Couldn’t really tell you exactly...” replied the ship’s computer. “...I’ve been more
interested in this little argument you’ve been having.”
“Look, we haven’t got time Jer! Any minute now...” Dynamo was interrupted by Jerry.
“Maybe you could tell me something. Hypothetically speaking, would we reach the
ground that is now so rapidly approaching at a less bone shattering velocity if we jettisoned some
of our supplies?”
“It’s worth a try, Dynamo.” said Wiley. “The less stuff that’s in here, the slower we’d
“No, no, it doesn’t matter.” replied Dynamo. “We’d still be falling at the same rate. I
mean think about it. If I were to take this can of Lipton Tea here, and drink it...” Dynamo
paused to gulp down the beverage. “...and drop the empty can at the same time as this full one
here, they would hit at the same time. That is of course assuming that my artificial gravity
generator is functioning constantly...”
“Actually, it’s on the blink Dynamo...” interrupted Jerry. “...I had been meaning to fix
“I’ll take your word for it Dynamo.” said Wiley.
“Good, I wanted to drink that other tea anyway.” said Dynamo as he opened the can.
“Look, haven’t we got more important things to think about! The ground is getting very
close. Doesn’t that worry you!?”
“I’ve got another question...” said Jerry.
“WHAT!?” They both yelled impatiently.
“What if you were to jump up from the spacecraft just before it hit?”
“Yes!” yelled Wiley happily. “Yes, that would save us Dynamo. Right before the ship hit
the ground we could jump upward and land softly on the ground.”
“Don’t be an idiot, Wiley. Remember what I said earlier about how fast I was going even
though I appeared not to be moving at all?”
“Well, even if you were to jump up as high as you possibly could, it wouldn’t matter since
we are moving so fast in the opposite direction, the velocity lost would be minimal. Anyway, you
really couldn’t jump up at all, could you. You’d be falling at the same rate as what you’d be
jumping off of so it couldn’t exert any upward force on you anyway.”
“Damn it Dynamo! The only thing your physics has gotten us is reasons why we are about
to die! Don’t you have anything constructive to say?!”
“If I could intercede...” said the computer.
“You’re really starting to annoy me Jerry.” said Dynamo.
“Actually,” replied the computer “I was just going to suggest that I use the teleport to get
you safely down to the planet’s surface.” Dynamo and Wiley stared at Jerry in dumbfounded
“Why didn’t you tell me you’d fixed the teleport?” inquired Dynamo.
“You never asked.” Dynamo and Wiley exchanged a disgusted glance.
“Explain the physics behind this, smart guy.” said Wiley as he handed Dynamo his
“It’s actually quite simple really.” replied Dynamo as Wiley rolled his eyes. “It’s just a
matter of...” continued Dynamo as they disappeared.
Dynamo and Wiley appeared again on the surface of the planet as the ship could be heard
screaming toward them above. Dynamo glanced at his watch which contained the ship’s
computer, Jerry. “How close is the ship to us, Jerry? Is it going to come down close to where we
“Could be pretty close. . .but. . .umm. . .”
“But what, Jerry?” asked Dynamo, now somewhat annoyed.
“I’ve got another burning question for you. A bit silly really. . .”
“I’ll humor you this once if you promise to be a little more helpful.”
“Say you had a cannon,” Dynamo groaned inwardly “Hold on, let me finish. Say you had
a cannon and some vile, disgusting vicious beast was running toward you and you had to hit it to
save your life. How could you fire the cannon to hit it?”
“Well,” said Wiley. “The cannonball would go up at a perfect angle until it ran out of
oomph, right? And then it would fall straight down, so you’d just have to know. . .”
“Wait a minute, did you say that the cannonball would fall straight down?”
“Sure it would. When it’s out of juice it’s out of juice, isn’t it?”
“The cannonball,” proclaimed Dynamo as he proceeded patiently, “would travel in a
parabola, just as my teleport bracelet here would if I tossed it from one hand to another.”
“I don’t believe it for a second.” said Wiley skeptically.
“Well here’s your chance to find out who’s right....” said Jerry. “Look behind you.”
Dynamo and Wiley turned and looked with horror at what they saw. Rushing toward them at a
particularly swift velocity was a Teldonian Woolly Wildebeest. The particularly nasty sort that
happened to be twenty feet higher than the Venurian Nastybeast and very nearly as nasty. Then a
cannon appeared in curiously improbable fashion in front of them. Wasting no time, Dynamo and
Wiley quickly began calculations on their respective cannonball flight systems.
“I’m done, Dynamo.” said Wiley. “And that thing’s getting pretty close. I’m going to fire
“No! You’re wrong! You’ve got to wait for me!” yelled Dynamo. “Let’s see,” said
Dynamo to himself, “that thing’s going at about four Teldonian feet per second and if the
cannonball was in the air for 4.3 seconds. . .Teldonian acceleration of gravity about 26 feet per
second squared . . . carry the one. . . hmm. . .” Wiley could wait no longer and fired the cannon.
“You fool, Wiley!” screamed Dynamo. The cannonball flew in perfect parabolic style, far
overshooting the Teldonian Woolly Wildebeest.
“Well that’s just great. Now we’re going to die for sure.” mumbled Wiley.
“Actually, I’ve got another question. . .” interrupted Jerry from Dynamo’s watch.
“Shut it off! That thing’s going computer senile! I can’t stand it! We’re going to die and
all that thing can do is ask questions!” Wiley huddled himself up into a ball and began rocking
back and forth on the ground mumbling something to himself about that other job that he didn’t
“Anyway,” proceeded Jerry, “What if that Wildebeest was to trip?”
“Why do you ask?” asked Dynamo.
“Because that Wildebeest just tripped.” replied Jerry.
“Oh.” said Dynamo. Wiley looked up at them.
“Well it would stop, wouldn’t it?” said Wiley “Once it’s not pushing itself forward
anymore it goes back to it’s natrual state: rest.”
“But it would keep moving for a while, sliding along the ground, right.” said Jerry.
“Yeah, well that’s just a bit of impetus. It would soon wear off and the beast would stop.
But we’re going to die anyway. It’ll just get back up and come eat us. I knew I should have taken
that job down at the chemist’s.” moaned Wiley as he began rocking back and forth again.
“Poppycock!” proclaimed Dynamo. “The natural state of things,” he quoted regally, “is to
keep doing whatever it’s doing until another force acts upon it. The only thing that causes that
Wildebeest to stop sliding is the friction between it and the ground. Without friction, on a
completely smooth and frictionless surface, it would slide on indefinitely.”
“So how does that help us?” asked Wiley.
“Well thankfully I happen to have my trusty Friction Reduction Remote. Handy in a tight
squeeze. I’ll just set it to zero and. . .” Dynamo pointed it at the sliding Wildebeest and along the
ground in front of it making the surface completely frictionless. Dynamo pulled Wiley out of the
way as the screaming Teldonian Woolly Wildebeest slid swiftly by them and off a cliff landing
with a thunderous thud. Switching off the Friction Reduction Remote, Dynamo smiled at Wiley.
“I knew we’d be all right.” he said.
“Are we dead yet?” asked Wiley.
“Nope! The Wildebeest slid harmlessly off that cliff over there. Incidentally, if that same
Wildebeest had been dropped off the cliff instead, he would have hit the ground at exactly the
same time as he did when he slid off.”
“The sliding one wouldn’t hit second?” asked Wiley as a matter of disinterest.
“No. The acceleration of gravity would have exactly the same effect on both of them, no
matter what the initial velocity.”
“Look, that’s all well and good but haven’t you forgotten something?” said Wiley, his ear
to the sky.
“Ha! Me forget!? That’s preposterous! I’ve dotted all the I’s! I’ve crossed all the. . .”
Dynamo was interrupted by the deafening sound of his spaceship crashing. “. . .T’s.” finished
“You forgot,” continued Wiley, “about the fact that we’re stuck on this planet with no
possible means of escape except for that spaceship.” he said, pointing at an almost unrecognizable
mass of burning rubble.
“Hmm. Now that is a tricky problem.” said Dynamo.
“Actually,” interrupted Jerry, “I’ve got another question. . .”
“SHUT UP!” they both yelled.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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