As I’m sure you’re well aware, you can’t just stumble through life without really examining and evaluating, really scrutinizing, this curious experience we call existence. Doing so means not being afraid of the questions that will inevitably arise. When those questions arise, you have to face them head-on, look them in their murky ultraviolet, pulsating eyes and do all you can to drag out answers. Questions like who would last longer in a car before shitting their pants in fear, Abraham Lincoln or Isaac Newton?
That’s right. I asked it. The question that’s been haunting you for years, perhaps decades. It’s time we put aside our fears and squeamishness and give this issue the attention it deserves.
First, let’s evaluate our two contenders. Abraham Lincoln, born in 1809, was the 16th president of the United States and led the nation through the incredible turmoil of the Civil War. Lincoln was also the only American president to obtain a patent, a method of bouying disabled boats.
Isaac Newton was born in 1643, and is best known for formulating the laws of motion and universal gravitation that dominated our understanding of the behavior of the physical universe until Einstein’s development of the theory of relativity in the 20th century. He also built the first usable refracting telescope, co-developed calculus and lots of other stuff. Dude was smart.
Now, for the sake of this thought-experiment, let’s say we’re able to transport both historical figures to a neutral space that consists of a racetrack in an otherwise rural area.
This way, we can avoid any unwanted panic or pants-filling that may be caused by other trappings of modernity, such as seeing an airplane flying overhead and having one of them shriek “GAAAAAAAHHHHH! IRON BIRD!” or seeing an LCD screen and wailing “ENCHANTED PAINTING! GET IT AWAY! GET IT AWAY!”
So, easy and unchallenging neutral ground it is. As far as what car should be used, we have a lot of leeway. I think a modern luxury car isn’t what we’re really looking for here. The comfortable interior with its advanced noise damping and smooth ride and technological screens and wonders is counter to our goals here: We’re trying to fill these great men’s trousers with panic-ejected waste, not lull them into a curious slumber.
For this experiment, I think we can keep the car choice pretty simple—what about a basic track-prepped Miata? We could do an Ariel Atom or a Cobra replica or something, but, really, it doesn’t matter.
Okay, so, the plan is a few hot laps in our car around the track, and whoever lasts longest before shitting their pants or passing out wins.
Here’s how I see the relative advantages and disadvantages:
Abe Lincoln: Advantages are that he has some experience with mechanized travel in the form of railroads and steamships. He’s very likely traveled at speeds of about 35 to 45 mph or so before, so the basic concept of faster-than-horse travel shouldn’t throw him too much.
Of course, that was in railcars, effectively mobile rooms that went in mostly straight lines; a Miata on a track is a very different experience. His long, lanky frame may prove a disadvantage as well, folded uncomfortably into the passenger seat, head occasionally whacking against the roll cage on hard turns.
Isaac Newton: Newton’s biggest advantage here is a preternatural understanding of the laws of physics, which a run around a track is essentially a demonstration of.
Newton even dabbled in automotive design, coming up with this basic concept for a “steam wagon” in 1670, relying on the action/reaction principle, so the very concept of a mechanical self-propelled vehicle shouldn’t freak him out much at all.
Of course, Newton likely never traveled at more than a horse gallop, and any amount of speed in a car, coupled with the unfamiliar noises and smells, could be enough to let his brilliant sphincter open to decant his leavings lavishly in his pantaloons.
This is a tough call, but I think my money’s on Lincoln. While Newton may possess a better fundamental understanding of the forces that would be acting on him as our (likely sadistic) driver whips that little Miata around the turns of our hypothetical track, physically feeling them is a very different experience entirely.
It’s possible — perhaps even likely — that Isaac would vomit before actually shitting himself, but I think once it’s explained that, no, the driver won’t stop until pants are soiled, he’d quickly give in.
What do you think? Am I underestimating Newton here, or vastly overestimating Lincoln’s constitution? Let’s hear some arguments in the comments. I feel like I — and maybe all of us — need this kind of discussion right now.