People have been attempting to cook chickens by slapping them for years, after learning that physics says it's possible. Now a YouTuber has finally achieved it.
A while back on Reddit, somebody asked a question in the No Stupid Questions subreddit: "If kinetic energy is converted into thermal energy, how hard do I have to slap a chicken to cook it?"
Though it clearly is a stupid question, it's also sort of the best question the Internet has ever heard. A physics major over on Facebook, Parker Ormonde, did the math
"As your friendly neighborhood physics major, I decided to calculate this with a few assumptions. The formula for converting between kinetic energy and thermal energy 1/2mv2=mcT," he wrote on Facebook.
"The average human hand weighs about .4kg, the average slap has a velocity of 11 m/s (25mph), an average rotisserie chicken weighs 1kg (2lbs) and has a specific heat capacity of 2720J/kg*c, and let's assume the chicken has to reach 205C (400F) for us to consider it cooked. The chicken will start off frozen so 0C (32F)."
He ultimately concluded that "to cook the chicken in one slap, you would have to slap it with a velocity of 1665.65 m/s or 3725.95 mph."
Now, that's quite a big ask given that Earth spins at roughly 1,600 Kilometers per hour (1,000 miles per hour), making it incapable of slapping its way to a roast. There are other problems with a one-punch chicken, as this simulation from a 3D render artist on Twitter shows.
If you were to slap the chicken hard enough to cook it, it would spray itself all over the walls, and you'd pretty much obliterate and cook your hand in the process too. This, combined with your arm bones being shattered and all the bleeding out, will probably distract you somewhat from serving up and/or chinning the potatoes.
With people unwilling to put the effort in to sacrifice a limb for lunch, the question turned to whether it would be possible to lightly spank the chicken many thousands of times and cook it that way instead.
As the translational kinetic energy of a body is equal to one-half the product of its mass and the square of its velocity, it's not as easy as merely slapping your chicken 3726 times at 1mph and making a gravy. You also have the problem that between slaps the chicken is cooling down, meaning that your blows have to be in extremely quick succession.
In terms of normal slaps, assuming you could deliver them at incredible superhuman speeds, would take a hell of a lot more.
"1 average slap would generate a temperature increase of 0.0089 degrees Celsius," Ormonde calculated. "It would take 23,034 average slaps to cook a chicken."
That's an absurd number of slaps when the oven is right there requiring precisely zero. Nevertheless, people have tried, both using machinery and through other cheat-methods, which have the advantage that you won't cook the meat off your hand in the process.
As you can see from the video, the slapping (as are the rules of the universe) did heat up the chicken. However, the logistics of slapping the chicken have often meant that it breaks far before it will cook. As the host puts it in the video "there's just a f*****g void where there once was chicken".
However, YouTuber Louis Weisz was not to be defeated, and has since returned to his old nemesis the chicken. In a new video, he has shown that it is possible, with a few tweaks to his machine, which he now calls the "meatslapper 9001". The new slapper pulls its punches, in order to not completely obliterate the chicken, while still slapping it at incredible speeds.
The chicken was moved inside a bag to help with the problem of heat loss, as well as it being sprayed across the room. He also decided to cook it for longer at a lower temperature, in order to pasteurize it without needing to take it up to unachievably high temperatures.
But it worked. It took around 135,000 slaps, and 8 hours to achieve, but it was worth it. As an added bonus, he also cooked a pretty good looking medium-rare steak and ate it while he was at it.
The idea of cooking chicken without the hassle of extreme convenience provided by the oven has been around long before the Internet. In a more scientific study in 1987 (though clearly mainly done for fun), physicists from Ohio University investigated cooking chicken with potential energy.
"When an object is dropped from a height, its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. Upon impact with the ground, this kinetic energy is converted into heat," they write in their paper.
"If the change in height can be made sufficiently large, significant amounts of heat can be generated. Everyday tasks such as cooking could be made safe, simple and energy efficient."
Naturally, they took an 11.3 kilogram (25-pound) Greaseball brand turkey, took it to the tenth floor of the administration building, and flung the bird from a ledge, before measuring the temperature of the meat.
"This process was repeated 72 times in six hours with the same turkey."
The experiment was halted when they ran out of bananas to give their assistant, but they extrapolated from their measurements that it would have reached 400° Fahrenheit (204° Celcius) in just 46 hours using the method, and upon tasting they reported the meat to be "very tender".