Experiments

# Hellboy Punch

posted: 04/11/12
As seen in "MythBusters: President's Challenge"[/i]
Thinkstock

# Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: In the movie Hellboy, the massive comic-book character flips a car into the air by punching down on its hood. On screen, the powerful smackdown works by transferring the forward linear momentum of the automobile into circular motion, but can real-life physics display the same flexibility? MythBusters Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci and Kari Byron dropped a ton of weight onto the hood of a few SUVs to see if they could land the stunt.

First, they had to figure out how powerful Hellboy's fist would be. Since the comic creators didn't provide this mathematical detail, the MythBusters decided to find out how much downward force it takes to tip the front of an SUV to the ground. Using that figure, they then calculated the amount of force required to flip the car into the air, which works out to a 1,500-pound (680-kilogram) steel fist.

While the fake fist slammed the SUV's nose into the ground, it wasn't strong enough to get any liftoff. Even when they tried the experiment on a smaller scale, tinkering with the mass of the fist, the SUV's center of gravity and its speed, the team only managed to get a 25-degree lift in the back tires. They found that the force required to get the SUV airborne would simply crush the car, effectively grounding the busted myth.

Fittingly, Hellboy's somersault stunt remains something only superheroes are capable of.

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