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Captain America Civil War Physics Question (spoilers)

  1. May 3, 2016 #1
    Hello everyone, a question has popped up in my mind after watching the the new Captain America movie recently in theaters, obviously the prerequisite to answering it requires you to have watched the movie and so, even though it's nothing major, I'll leave an extra spoiler warning here just in case.
    My question is wether or not Captain America could really pull the helicopter downwards without holding holding on to anything as he did in the movie, equivalently, could I exert a downwards force while in midair greater than my own weight. Now I'm not asking wether or not he could really exert such a force, but if in principle it is possible.
    Sorry for my bad english.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2016 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    You can pull harder than your weight - you just move up a bit.
    Newton's 3rd Law.

    You can analyse this by free body diagram to get the relationship between the copter and cap's acceleration.
  4. May 4, 2016 #3
    Captain would move up, then by newtons 3rd law the heli would accelerate downwards acoordingly?
  5. May 4, 2016 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Yep - you can probably work it out by free body diagrams.
    The effect is a bit like you have someone on skates on ice trying to pull a heavy ice sled towards them by a rope.
    You are probably more used to that situation from physics class.

    If Cap gives enough impulse to drop the copter say 3-4m to the ground in less than a second, he would shoot into the sky.
    I gather that didn't happen ... so your instincts were good: it was a cartoon move: what Disney called a "plausible impossibility".
  6. May 24, 2016 #5
    If I remember correctly - didn't Cap hook his other arm onto a rail attached to the building in the film? An anchor like that would be helpful. With the Super Soldier Formula, all things are possible. If he can survive decades frozen in ice, surely he can toss around a mere helicopter. :)
  7. May 24, 2016 #6
    He difinatly did hook his hand on the building, but that was after his initial jump and bringing the heli down to the required hight if I'm not mistaken.
  8. May 25, 2016 #7

    Simon Bridge

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    Not seen the movie.
    If his jump was higher than the helecopter skid(?), and it was hovering, then it is plausible that the sudden appearance of his weight on a finely balanced system could cause the copter to drop a bit before the pilot could correct. The extra impulse comes from his momentum when he hits. I think it's quite hard to shove a helecopter around though.

    Helecopters can usually wrench a handrail away from it's supports ... so what sort of rail?

    Mond you - these superheroes have magic properties that appear and vanish whenever the plot calls for it.
  9. May 25, 2016 #8

    This is the scene in question I think.
  10. May 25, 2016 #9
    Maybe Bucky didn't floor it right away because deep down he didn't want to injure his friend?
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