The Question

One thing I remember from my childhood is watching The Flintstones. For those who may not have seen it, The Flintstones is an animated series about a "modern" society set in the Stone Age. Or so we thought.

The Flintstones were the first TV Couple to be shown together in bed. Not doing much, but together. In bed.
The Flintstones are the ones in the middle. The ones on the sides are the Rubbles.

One of the things I have always noticed is how the people started and stopped their cars: true foot-powered vehicles that took forever (in a manner of speaking) to start and quite some time to slow down or stop.

So this leads to the question: Is a Flintstone-type car with stone wheels actually going to be useful?

The Short Answer

A resounding "Yes!"

Yes! Yes! Yes! Daniel Bryan

The Long Answer Part 1

Let's take a look at the average modern human and Fred Flintstone. To be specific, we will compare their heights. From these, we can calculate his mass.

Fred works in a rock quarry, using an Apatosaurus (sorry, Brontosaurus is just plain wrong) to lift stones and move them around. Using this, we can compare two diagrams to get Fred's height.

Fred Flintstone on an Apatosaurus.
Fred Flintstone on an Apatosaurus. Although this image is technically incorrect, we can use this to simplify analysis.
Apatosaurus vs Modern Human
As can be seen, a modern human is tiny compared to any one of these Apatosaurus species.

Here are the two images, put together.

Fred Flintstone,
Fred Flintstone, as compared to his dino crane, as compared to actual apatosaurs, as compared to a modern human.

Although Fred's dino crane has a larger-than-life head and an incorrect posture, its other dimensions seem correct, especially when compared to the other dinosaurs. We can now conclude a few things about Fred Flintstone:

  1. He is about as tall as an average modern human.
  2. He is about as wide as average modern human.
  3. He is about twice as "deep" (chest to back) as an average modern human.

The person in the diagram is 180 cm tall. A few conversions and using this scale, the man's mass can be worked out to be around 70 kg. This means that Mr. Flintstone has a mass of about 150 kg and a height of 180 cm.

The next step is to compare Fred to the dimensions of his car.

flintstones

Using Fred's height as a ruler, we get the following estimates for the dimensions for the car.

Car height 2.0 m
Wheel height 0.7 m
Car width 1.0 m
Wheel width 0.8 m
Car length 2.2 m
Length of wheel supports 2.0 m
Wheel support diameter 0.2 m

The volume of the wheels, seats, and supports can be calculated using simple maths. From that, and the density values of the materials used, we can calculate the mass of the car. Most rocks have a density of about 2500 kg/m3, while most types of wood have a density between 400 and 900 kg/m3 (an average of 650 kg/m3 will be used for calculations).

Wheel volume (1) 0.31 m3
Support volume (1) 0.063 m3
Seat volume (half of 1 wheel, all seats) 0.15 m3
Total mass of wheels 1550 kg
Total mass of supports 82 kg
Total mass of seats 375 kg
TOTAL MASS OF CAR 2007 kg

 

The car is just over 2 tonnes. Heavy by our standards, but just about as massive as a modern car. This is a surprising result, especially when this is taken into consideration.

The van above is about the same mass as the stone car, and it can be pushed by two people. Since Fred Flintstone's car is also pushed by people, it should, in theory, be pushed to a road-worthy speed as well. And without any source of internal friction from the car's parts such as the engine and gears, most of that energy put into the stone car will be put into the motion of the car.

It still goes without saying that although this will work, the car will only go to a maximum speed equal to Mr. Flintstone's top speed, which is somewhere between 20 and 35 km/h. Furthermore, there will be other issues that would make the driving experience below par. which will be explored in upcoming articles.

Sources

  1. http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-reasons-flintstones-set-distant-future.php
  2. http://knowinglyundersold.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/the_flintstones-show.jpg
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s13X66BFd8
  4. http://gifrific.com/daniel-bryan-yes-chant/
  5. http://pic199.zizaike.com/919/606919.jpg
  6. http://www.npr.org/2012/12/09/166665795/forget-extinct-the-brontosaurus-never-even-existed
  7. http://pic199.zizaike.com/919/606919.jpg
  8. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Apatosaurus_scale_mmartyniuk_wiki.png
  9. http://www.rush.edu/rumc/page-1108048103230.html
  10. http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2008/10_cars/flintstones.jpg
  11. http://giphy.com/gifs/s3LOGptCH4vgk