What Happens If An Unstoppable Force Meets An Immovable Object?

The Joker thought he had found the answer while dangling at the end of The Dark Knight, but have you ever really wondered what would happen when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? The folks at Minute Physics did, and as usual brought a mountain of entertaining science to explain how such an interaction would unfold.

The short and spoiler filled answer is: not much at all. The laws of physics would require both to have an infinite amount of mass and energy, but would not allow their velocities to change, so in theory they would simply just pass right through each other. Yawn. No catastrophic universe-ending explosions or anything like that, which is probably for the best. [YouTube]


    I don't mind MinutePhysics, but I think they missed the point on this one. Simply 'passing through' one another isn't possible in our current understanding of physics, for starters. But really, the unstoppable force/immovable object problem is a paradox designed to respond to religious belief in an all-powerful god. It's a paradox because the two cannot exist in the same universe at the same time - if there is an immovable object, there cannot be an unstoppable force, and likewise in reverse, by definition.

    It's basically the same thing as the question in the Simpsons: could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot even he himself couldn't eat it? The question uses the Socratic method to make the believer realise that he believes in mutually exclusive things, and as such his belief must not be correct.

    Last edited 27/01/13 7:56 am

      Just when you thought there was a chance religion could be left out of the comments...

        You thought a video about a question designed to challenge religion wouldn't have religion mentioned in the comments?

      No, it's perfectly within our understanding of physics for objects to move through each other. Go study more.

        Don't confuse the behaviour of individual particles at the atomic level where the notion of solidity doesn't exist with macroscopic matter, where the electromagnetic force binding atoms into solid structures can't be overcome without breaking the bonds, and in turn the structure that makes it a solid. Objects made of matter and larger than the atomic scale can't pass through each other.

        Thanks for the tip to study more, it's something everyone should follow for their whole lives, don't you think? Yourself included.

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