Neil deGrasse Tyson calls out Elon Musk over physics of the Cybertruck

  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson questioned the physics of Elon Musk's Tesla video, which showed his new Cybertruck pulling Ford's F-150 truck uphill. 
  • Tyson replied to Musk's video on Twitter, claiming that the stunt may not have actually demonstrated the truck's engine power. 
  • Tyson then challenged Musk to "fully load the F-150, giving highest traction to its rear wheels, then try to drag that up the hill," which Musk agreed to do "next week."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson questioned the physics of the new Tesla Cybertruck pulling a Ford F-150 uphill, a video of which Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted to Twitter. 

In the video, Tesla's newly unveiled Cybertruck can be seen pulling the F-150 uphill with ease. 

Tyson replied to Musk's video on Twitter, debating the physics of the Tesla truck's impressive feat. He claimed that the stunt may not have actually demonstrated the truck's engine power. 

"A badass @Tesla looking like it's doing a badass thing," Tyson tweeted. "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."

"Electric vehicles are famously heavy — over both axles," Tyson continued. "It's all about the weight borne by spinning tires. That's the source of traction, not the engine power." 

"Electric motors also have insane torque," Musk fired back. "If we load both trucks to the max, electric still wins. Physics is the law, everything else is a recommendation." 

Tyson said that while torque is important in a vehicle, "high Torque just spins a tire in place if there's not enough weight to provide traction." 

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Elon Musk unveils Tesla's Cybertruck
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk gestures while introducing the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk introduces the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk gestures while wrapping up his presentation of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk discusses ballistic impact in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk introduces the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk discusses vehicle dimensions in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk unveils the all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk speaks in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck with shattered windows, after a failed resistance test, at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk unveils the all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk speaks in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck with shattered windows, after a failed resistance test, at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk speaks in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck with shattered windows, after a failed resistance test, at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
People take pictures of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
People take pictures of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck with shattered windows after a failed resistance test, at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the shattered windows of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Tyson then challenged Musk to "fully load the F150, giving highest traction to its rear wheels, then try to drag that up the hill. I otherwise agree: Load both to the max and the highest torque wins." 

"Agreed, this will be exciting to see!" Musk replied, saying that he would "aim to do this next week." 

Tyson isn't the only one coming after Musk's new truck. Sunny Madra, who leads Ford X, the automaker's mobility-ventures lab, challenged Musk on Twitter on Monday to an "apples to apples" showdown between the two powerful vehicles.

"Hey @elonmusk send us a Cybertruck and we will do the apples to apples test for you," Madra wrote, with followed by several winking emojis. 

Ford debuted an electric F-150 prototype earlier this year that was able to tow 1 million pounds of train cars 1,000 feet. In contrast, according to Business Insider's transportation reporter Graham Rapier, a properly configured Ford F-150 pickup truck can tow 13,200 pounds. 

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