SCIENCE

Is Cow-Tipping Really Possible? Researchers Show Why Prank Wouldn't Work (VIDEO)

09/10/2013 08:27 am ET | Updated Sep 16, 2013

Is cow-tipping possible? Research from the University of British Columbia suggests that the idea of knocking over a standing cow during its slumber just doesn't stand up.

For one thing, cows do not sleep standing up. What's more, simple physics suggests the force of a single person is hardly enough to cause a standing cow to topple over.

“Two could do it in theory,” Dr. Margo Lillie, a zoology professor at the university, told Modern Farmer. “But it’s not going to be easy, and as soon as the cow responds by bracing herself or leaning into you — which she will do — it will be even harder.”

So, how much brawn would it take to tip a bovine?

In 2005, Lillie and student Tracy Boechler did some rough calculations using Newton's Second Law, which is force equals mass times acceleration. They found that not one or two, but at least five people would be needed to exert enough force to push over a cow standing with its legs straight.

“I suspect that even if a dynamic physics model suggests cow-tipping is possible, the biology ultimately gets in the way. A cow is simply not a rigid, unresponding body,” Lillie told The Times in the U.K. at the time the research was completed.

Bottom line: The greater the mass of the cow, the greater the amount of force needed.

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