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# I am 1/50th as strong as an elephant! Fear me!

Thu 16 Jan, 2003 12:48 pm
I heard some report on the radio the other day that went something like this: "Who can pull an airplane farther? An elephant or 50 men?"

My question is this (because my brain runs away on me) - does an elephant have the strength of 50 men? Less?
How many elephants would it take to equal the strength of 50 men?
Even if an elephant DID have the strength of 50 men, wouldn't 50 men have an easier time of it because of distribution of force and all that technical stuff?
Does anybody know?
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littlek

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 12:49 pm
I dunno.
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patiodog

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 01:12 pm
I think that would depend on how you measured "strength." The fifty men might have an easier time if they all pulled in exactly the same direction because the would have better traction, maybe. What men are we talking about, anyway? Ever watch the World's Strongest Man competitions? One of the events, sometimes, is an airplane pull. I'm guessing your average guy or gal can't pull a charter jet very far, but these guys can...
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patiodog

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 01:12 pm
(duplicate post)
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Sugar

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 01:27 pm
I don't think they specified particularly strong men, just 'men' - it might have even just been 'people'.
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fishin

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 01:49 pm
I don't think the issue would be strength at all. To get and keep an airplane moving you are going horizontally so you need mass to overcome inertia of the sitting plane more than you need strength.

50 "men" might weight 190lbs each on average so your total mass would be about 9,500 lbs (4.75 tons +/- a few pounds). Your average adult male African elephant is going to weigh in between 6 and 7 tons so that weight difference gives a significant advantage to the elephant.
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patiodog

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 02:04 pm
I disagree. The only place that mass should come into it is in terms of there being sufficient friction between the feet of the men/elephant and the ground. The component necessary to overcome the inertia of the plane is not the mass of the men/elephant, but the force that they are able to exert in the horizontal plane. If the men are able to exert twice the force on the plane as the elephant, it will have twice the acceleration. If they were floating in space, then their mass would be a major consideration, but what matters in this case is not the mass of the puller(s) but the normal force between the pullers and the ground (which is transferred to the plane through tension in the rope, or whatever).
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fishin

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 02:22 pm
patiodog wrote:
If the men are able to exert twice the force on the plane as the elephant, it will have twice the acceleration.

True. But the question was ""Who can pull an airplane farther?".

All the elephant has to do is lean forward to negate 6-7 tons of the plane's weight by applying the mass of it's body to create that tension on teh rope that you mentioned. The men have to not only lean forward but then apply an additional 1.25 tons (minimum) of muscle strength just to match the elephant. (Neither would actually be apply a force equeal to their full mass but the ratio for each would be close enough to maintain the balance between them.)

While it's possible they could do that, how long could they continue to move the plane exerting the muscle energy required while the elephant is exerting no real additional energy? How long could they exert TWICE that amount of energy to achieve twice the the acceleration? (Since I am assuming it would be an identical plane for both, the decrease required by both would be the same once the plane starts moving..)
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Slappy Doo Hoo

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 02:29 pm
Yeah, well, if you're 1/50th as strong, I bet I'm at least 1/43rd as strong.
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patiodog

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Thu 16 Jan, 2003 06:16 pm
Yeah, I smell you from here.

(Leaning, hey, that's good. Gotta try that one.)
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Wilso

1
Fri 17 Jan, 2003 06:04 am
OK, I don't know about pulling the aeroplane, but about 18 months ago, I saw a news report from Thailand, where a tug-of-war was held between an elephant and several HUNDRED (I can't remember the exact number) men. The elephant won without any effort at all.
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dlowan

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Fri 17 Jan, 2003 06:12 am
That'll be the plane truth then...
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Wilso

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Fri 17 Jan, 2003 07:56 am
Thailands Talented Elephants

According to this article it takes over 70 men to bring an elephant to a draw. I can't believe my memory of the event is that bad, but I have to go with the researched article!
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Sugar

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Fri 17 Jan, 2003 09:09 am
Thanks everyone! I'm glad my cranial wanderings have lead to such an interesting discussion! And thanks for the link Wilso! OK, I'm going with I'm 1/70th as strong as an elephant.
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patiodog

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Fri 17 Jan, 2003 10:37 am
't'saright, wilso. i've watched some thai television. i can see how you might get confused. (saw a guy on there once who'd spent his entire life running increasingly large electrical currents through his body so that someday he could pull off the cartoon stunt of sticking a lightbulb in your mouth and making it light up. well, by gum, he made it, and now he's a star...)
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Wilso

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Mon 20 Jan, 2003 05:04 am

In this one an elephant defeats 80 men while.....ummm- I'll let you read it.
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quinn1

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Mon 20 Jan, 2003 05:17 pm
Wish I had seen this and you last week there Sug..but, theres still one more episode to catch....

APL Jan 25 2003
12:00 PM The Most Extreme Strength

Looked pretty interesting, and I missed it myself but...if you want to know about the various animals and strength...here ya go...the previews showed humans/strong men competitions and said something about the strongest animal for its size/weight/capacity fitting in a drawer...before that I had thought ant..now I want to see what they come up with...certainly wouldnt be an elephant...I dont think at least
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