Famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson may have been the last person one would think to call out Elon Musk on his new Cybertruck. But, when you mess with the horns of physics, you get the bull, Musk is finding out.
Tyson took to Twitter early this week to question the physics behind Musk’s demonstration of the Cybertruck’s strength. During the Cybertruck unveiling event, Musk showed video of his truck supposedly pulling a Ford F-150 up a hill. Tyson was skeptical of the video and questioned the physics of the event in this Twitter thread.
Tyson pointed out that the stunt didn’t actually prove how strong the truck’s engine was, Interesting Engineering notes.
Instead, using his (actual) knowledge of physics, Tyson said that the demonstration, as Musk set it up, wouldn’t be enough to make Musk’s point of the Cybertruck being stronger than the Ford. Tyson claimed that the demonstration only showed was the Physics of Friction, claiming that the Cybertruck only proved it had better grip from the weight it carried, not from its engine.
A badass @Tesla looking like it’s doing a badass thing. But if the @Ford F-150 is RWD **with no payload** then weight on the Rear Axle is greatly reduced, offering only mild traction for the Tesla to overcome. This contest is more about the Physics of Friction than Engine Power.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) November 25, 2019
Meanwhile a Senior VP at Ford has also challenged Musk to an objective re-test. “Bring it on,” Musk replied on Twitter.
Many on Twitter have pointed out that the Ford truck in the demonstration appears to be using only rear-wheel drive, as well, which would obviously be negatively affected by the truck having no payload in its rear. In addition, Techcrunch also laid out all of the reasons they found that the test could have been flawed:
First, the Cybertruck is dramatically heavier, particularly in the rear-end. The Ford used in the test appears to be in 2-wheel drive mode running on older tires. Without weight on the rear wheels, and the front axle spinning freely, the Ford is at the mercy of the heavier all-wheel drive Cybertruck.
The Ford appears to be a mid-level XLT trim and it’s impossible to identify the engine used. However, the truck lacks the badging used with Ford’s top-of-the-line 3.5L Ecoboost, which seems to indicate the truck sports a lower-end V8 or Ford’s smaller 2.7L Ecoboost. Either way, it’s not a fair fight under the hood.
Other factors are at play, too. The Cybertruck pulls first, increasing the Tesla’s traction and decreasing the Ford’s.
It looks as though Musk is willing to re-do the demonstration, at least for now.
Musk replied to Tyson: “Physics is the law and everything else is a recommendation.” He said they would retry the demonstration next week with both trucks loaded up to weight and that it would be “exciting to see”.
Agreed, this will be exciting to see!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 26, 2019
We can’t wait either, Elon.