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Cow Tipping is a Myth 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-use-of-a-physics-degree dept.
Faeton writes "It's the kind of story you hear from a friend of a friend -- how, after a long night in a rural hostelry and at a loss for entertainment in the countryside, they head out into a nearby field. There, according to the second-hand accounts, they sneak up on an unsuspecting cow and turn the poor animal hoof over udder. But now, much to the relief of dairy herds, the sport of cow-tipping has been debunked as an urban, or perhaps rural, myth by scientists at a Canadian university. "
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Cow Tipping is a Myth

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @11:27PM (#13995032)

    From TFA:
    Ms Boechler, now a trainee forensics analyst for the Royal Canadian Mounted Corps, concluded in her initial report that a cow standing with its legs straight would require five people to exert the required force to bowl it over.
    Five normal people, perhaps...or perhaps just one college football jock, hopped up on steriods and Jagermeister...

    (Before the naysayers start yammering about the misconceptions of steroid use, let me relate a personal experience of mine. Back in my college days, I watched my football jock roommate (an avowed Nandralone user) put his shoulder through the dorm room wall (concrete block), during a Jager bender. I doubt a mere cow would have had much of a chance against this guy.)
  • The real truth. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @11:39PM (#13995088)
    As someone from bible belt heartland america, we have a few dairy cows. And I personally have been a party to cow tipping, and it is completely possible, and 4 of us did it.

    So tell me how that's impossible again?
  • Re:uhm...duh!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaoudaW (533025) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @12:14AM (#13995269)
    First off, cows sleep laying down. I lived on a dairy for 15 years and had to wake them up.
    I was born and raised on a dairy farm and had my own small herd by the time I was in high school. Of course cows sleep laying down, but if you had to wake them up you were getting up too early! ;-)

    So, if the cow is standing, it is awake.
    Good call.

    Next, a good sized dairy cow weighs in at over 1000 lbs.
    Actually that would be quite a small cow like a Jersey or a Guernsey. A typical Holstein would be more in the 1500 pound range.

    Standing, feet average width apart -- you, scrawny programmer boy (or me, an almost athetic 200 lbs) aint just gonna nock the thing over. Head start or no.
    Of course not. The whole idea of dispelling the myth scientifically is one of the more ridiculous things I've ever heard of. It's a total joke and always has been.

    Now just to confuse all you city slickers, there is a technique called "throwing" which is commonly used on farms and which is used in the rodeo event of bulldogging. Essentially the idea is to twist the head at the same time as you throw the animal off balance with your hip. I've personally thrown calves up to about 900 pounds, but in my experience it takes two men with a rope to throw a full-sized cow.
  • Re:Center of mass? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cgenman (325138) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @12:19AM (#13995303) Homepage
    It gets worse. Notice how the diagram assumes that the fulcrum of the cow is the opposite leg? This assumes a 100% rigid body cow. How rigid is a cow if it isn't expecting to be knocked over? If the cow's legs provided full vertical support but no angular rigity, a slight breeze would blow that parallelogram over.

    In essence, they've shown the theoretical maximum force required to tip a cow.

    And, of course, she doesn't try to tip any cows herself. It seems a bit irresponsible to prove that it can't be done mathematically, without checking your work yourself.

    Not necessarily relevant to the findings of the article, but notice in the diagram where the center of mass is located?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2005 @01:52AM (#13995676)
    Cow tipping is possible. How do I know? Do I know some guy that saw some guy do it? Nope. I've done it. The article focuses on simply applying the force to the top of the cow. That doesn't work. Everybody in my county knows that. For those interested (I'm not really sure why you would be, but then again I probably don't want to know...), you have to push/pull the cow's legs while pushing on the top. A popular "trick" around here is to tie the cow's hooves together (a sort of looseish hog-tie) before tipping, pull on the rope... the cow is down and it cant kick properly, so it wont get back up without a whole lot of help, and because it's kicking, you can't get close enough to cut the rope for a while... Yes, I'll admit it (just this once); I'm from the one of the hickest towns in the country...
  • Biology and Aikido (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hummassa (157160) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:36AM (#13996686) Homepage Journal
    To tip a living being is EASIER than tipping a statue. Living things are easily surprised and taken off-balance.
    My personal experience with ruminants is: I ran over a horse once and I ran over a cow, too.
    The horse: I was at 110km/h (70mph) in a 1979 GM Chevette whose brake system, unknowingly to me up till that time, was defective. I saw the horse going to the middle of the road at 150m distance, hit the brakes, and nothing! I swung the car to the left (so I could avoid hitting the horse on me), and the horse rolled (ONCE) over the right side of my car (broke the windshield and I had to repair the right A-column) and fell on his feet. Speed on impact: at least 80km/h (50mph). Horse weight: 600kg. The horse survived, with a broken rib.
    The cow: I was at 110km/h (70mph) in a 1995 Fiat Tempra. It was 11pm and I was coming back from a 600km (370mi) away one-day trip. I saw the cow at less than 100m (110yd) distance, and hit the brakes, slowing down to something in the range of 50-60 km/h (30-37 mph) in the point of impact. The cow rolled TWICE over the front of the car and THRICE again in the floor behind the car (there was no escape to me because a truck was coming in the other lane). It was a big preggie cow, weighting at least 1000kg (2200lb). The cow and its offspring were dead on site. The dynamics of the cow rolling over and over suggests to me that tipping a cow is easier than it looks.
    Besides, I weight 100kg and I can push a 200kg weight around. This myth is not busted, guys. :-) Hope Adam or Jamie or someone else MythBuster reads /. ...
  • by gedhrel (241953) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:40AM (#13996697)
    Rather overaccurate numbers for the number of people you'd need (4.43), the calculations state things with a level of accuracy that indicates the calculator is the usual seminumerate soft scientist. I bet they quote the level of sodium they get in "half an average grapefruit" to three significant figures too.

    However, the model assumes the cow is static, whilst later giving the lie to this. A single person can tip a cow (I've done it, I'm 5'7" and weigh little and had about a 50% hit rate - hey, there was little to do where I grew up). The cow _does_ react to a shove - the process is more like cow tripping than cow tipping, but they most certainly do go over.
  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @10:40AM (#13997380) Homepage


    Beware of any scientist who determines if a cow can be tipped by developing complex models, rather than going out and trying to tip a cow.

    That being said, this article is par for the course in contemporary "journalism." Very poorly written. There is no telling where the inaccuracy of the "journalist" stops and the absurdity of the claims made by the "scientist" begin. At the very least, the article itself concedes that two people may be able to tip a cow, but says the whole thing is a myth in the title. Which brings me to my second fair warning ... beware of journalists who contradict themselves several times in the same article (or these days, just beware of journalists, I suppose.) Another way to say it is this: believe none of what you hear, half of what you read, and only about 90% of what you see.
  • Re:The real truth. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @11:57AM (#13998135) Journal
    Brethren doesn't distiguish sex. It doesn't have anything to do with brother.

    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=brethren [m-w.com]

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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