How big would a banana need to be to force a Hyundai Elantra to spin out like in Mario Kart?
Short answer: About 250 lbs.
Long answer: You might be surprised to learn that the coefficient of friction for a banana peal on smooth flooring is comparable to ice. That paper won the Ig Nobel prize last year – a pun on ‘ignoble’ – awarded for research “that makes people laugh, and then think.” Let’s do exactly that.
First, I expect that the coefficient of friction of a banana on asphalt will be considerably higher than on linoleum floors. Rather than smoothly sliding I expect that the banana peel will just get chewed up by the road. But let’s suppose that if you can get a large enough banana peel under someone’s rear wheels then you can make them start to skid. It only takes a momentary loss of traction to start fish tailing, and if your target is driving like an asshole this should be easy to induce if you have good banana-accuracy.
A 2014 Hyundai Elantra has a 70 inch width. A typical banana, weighing about a quarter of a pound, has only a 7 inch length. To properly weaponize this banana peel (Oppa Mario Kart style) so that it can fit under both rear tires it will need to be at least ten times longer. We know volume scales like the length cubed, so a proportionally scaled banana would be a thousand times more massive.
This banana would weigh 250 lbs. I highly doubt that anyone could eat such a banana on a casual drive, but if you could you’d more likely to die yourself from potassium chloride poisoning. I’m reminded of a quote, which I believe is attributed to the Buddha, “Eating your body weight in giant bananas is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
asked by /u/lookatthatbanana
image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Have a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org