This post goes out to my dearest, darlingest Jesse – who is a Physics teacher at a super snooty cool private school that shall remain nameless. 😉

I’ve always wondered: what can a fairy tale scholar (me) and a physics teacher (him) have in common? Well I have finally found the answer.

That link up there is from National Geographic about the physics of fairy tales. Is it physically possible for Rapunzel to pull the Prince up from the ground by her hair? Could Jack really have climbed that beanstalk? Could a goose really lay a golden egg?

Sue Stocklmayer, director of the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) at the Australian National University in Canberra, set out not only to solve these problems, but to get children and adults alike interested in science by presenting it through everyone’s favorite medium: fairy tales! What a worthy goal!

Could Rapunzel really pull up that heavy prince?

“A small object”—such as a cooped-up princess—”can bear a lot of weight if the connecting device [her hair] is wrapped around something.”

The prince is then technically hanging on to the bedpost rather than Rapunzel’s scalp.

“So long as Rapunzel wraps her hair first, then the prince and she are Ok,” Stocklmayer said. “So in her case, yes, it could happen.”

Because of physics, Rapunzel can be happy, knowing that the prince will not, in fact, pull out all her hair.

Because of physics, Rapunzel can be happy, knowing that the prince will not, in fact, pull out all her hair.

Cool! Physics! Fairy Tales! Together at last! What awesomeness!

Apparently, a grad student (G.M Newton) even wrote a thesis on science and children’s literature in 2004! Here’s the abstract (which I took from the CPAS site) if you’re interested.

Don’t you just love interdisciplinary studies?

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