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I have five characters stuck on one side of a bridge with two cars. The bridge is blocked by two boulders, one for each lane. They have been placed there by an excavator or tractor, so not enormous, but enough to stop a car getting by.

The characters have tried unsuccessfully to move the boulders by hand and to push them with one of the cars. Two of the characters are now arguing about driving across the river. I want the remaining characters to use science and move one of the boulders out of the way (or at least figure out a way) while this is happening.

Any suggestions?

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    $\begingroup$ Do You asking about use of 5-6th grade shool physics? $\endgroup$
    – Kamitergh
    Aug 10, 2022 at 9:44
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    $\begingroup$ "One of them happened to remember how to build a makeshift gravity launcher to push one of the rock", or "They had shaped-charges in their cars to blast it". Both are "clever" and use science, so what are the constraints and what do they have access to? Also, how the bridge looks like and what are they made from? We have to know that in order to answer. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2022 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ VTC. You're inviting ideas and general discussion, and that will essentially boil down to opinions with no qualitatively 'best answer' .. this form of question is not a good fit for this site and it looks like you've been around long enough that you should know that .. I suggest you take the tour, again if you have already. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 10, 2022 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ At the very least you should specify the available tools and tech rather than leaving us to guess .. I would guess from context you intend real world science and tech with perhaps nothing more than the tools for changing a wheel you might expect in an ordinary car . but you've left it entirely open for anyone to guess anything they like, as pointed out by @Tortliena with his gravity launcher and shaped charges 😁 $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 10, 2022 at 11:10
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    $\begingroup$ -4. wow. this site got very unfriendly since the last time I was here. $\endgroup$
    – roryok
    Aug 10, 2022 at 12:53

2 Answers 2

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Pulleys

The boulder is too heavy to lift by hand. Even tying a rope of chain and pulling with the car will not work. You would need four cars. Or three pulleys!

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With three pulleys you can lift four times as much as usual. This works because you pull for four times as long and use four times as much rope.

Our heroes attach a rope or chain to the boulder. They loop it back and forth between overhanging girders of the bridge as makeshift pulleys. They tie the free end to their car and pull.

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  • $\begingroup$ I will put my answer under here since prospects of reopening seem slim. While folks fuss, character gets into one of the cars, backs way up and rams the boulder at speed. Maybe ramming in reverse will not hurt the car as bad. But they do have another car. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Aug 10, 2022 at 18:21
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Sometimes brains are not enough - you have to have tools, you have to be able to lever things. Brains are for usage of tools, not joda style power of itself.

Easiest use of the car in this scenario is to take it and drive to that guy with buldoser/tractor and convince him to move the stuff for them to pass. If he is on the other side then go by foot, the thing should not be too far away, with good probability.

You can use a car(one car, instead how it mention in the other answer like you need four of them, in contraty one does not need 4 but 1, 4 wont work, it opposite side of pulley) and you can apply a force this way like 30t, enough to pull a buldoser from a swamp(when only top of it is seen). There are guys on youtube who do that regularly, and move 70t boulders as well(less regularly) so pulley system is capable to do magic even in modern days, and does(no one would pay them anything to have such business if there would be other easier cheaper ways)

But no matter how smart one is, and even if it is the guy who does such things for the living, it hard to have about 2t of pulleys and chains and cables laying in a car just by a chance waiting for the glory moment to shine.

Even if you have all that and and things are prepared, it takes a day, half a day for 5-10 people working together on all kinds of nuances here(for 70t one), or one two days, or a half depends on how big is the problem if it is one guy(and maybe few helpers).

1t bolder they can move or maybe 2t one, is not big enough to block the whole road, but it is probably a limit of what random guys with random cars can move by randomly meeting such an obstacle. And maximum expected smartness is to be able to strap the rock and hook the strap to the tow hook, and pray is strong enough for the job.

If it such a good setting then moving those bolders close together may free wide enough chunk of road, so it may be an option, but limits are the same few ton max, with random junk from the car.

If they lucky enough, rolling may be an option, and few tricks may help them, but they probably do not have capacity to attach strap to the boulder in a correct way, so it useless.

So being smart, is to find a way to convince the other side to move in the end of the day and free road for them specifically - one has to be really good at persuasion.

P.S.

Be able to tell which side of obstacle the tractor is probably counts as smart.

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks for the answer, sorry I didnt provide enough details but I appreciate you trying to answer instead of just downvoting and leaving angry comments. I'll rewrite and make the obstacle a bit easier to overcome. $\endgroup$
    – roryok
    Aug 10, 2022 at 12:55

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