Thinking with Portals – Bad For Your Health…

Nope – this isn’t an awaited review of Portal 2 – that is in the pipeline but somewhat held up by my inability to try the multiplayer at the moment…

My friend posted a cartoon on Twitter last night.  This one:

I thought that’s amusing and forwarded it to some of my portal playing friends at work.  One of them responded “Hang on.  That won’t work” and then the rest of the afternoon was lost in the discussion of whether hypothetically I could work.  The full email discussion is below, though my argument was that surely you would still be able to stand holding both ends of the blanket at one point in the room allowing you to tie it together.  Other suggestions have been using the preservation of velocity to throw the blanket across the room, to use an excursion funnel to move the blanket into position (though this was left as it required one portal too many…) and throwing one end of the blanket through the portal and catching it on the other side.  We were getting to the point of drawing diagrams for each when the time came to go home so I fear this is not finished.  One person was threatening to make a level featuring this setup so that it could be fully tested…

I can only think of one place for an argument this pointless, so here it is presented for the whole of the internet to see!  Of course I will keep this post updated with any further updates should you be interested/actually care, and please feel free to join in using the comments box below…

The full email chain starting with the oldest and moving forward:


Dammit Chris – you’re getting my head into a muddle by making me think that cartoon over and over.

What happens to an object if it is half in/half out a portal when you change your portals position?  Could you put two portals next too each other, tie the knot and then move one portal to the other side of the room?


No idea – amazingly I think that concept was never explored in Portal, or Portal 2. That should definitely be in portal 3.

As for the hammock thing, I’m convinced it wouldn’t work like in that cartoon. You wouldn’t be able to tie it up with the portals placed as they are. Think about in game when you fire one in front of you and one behind you. You could throw the fabric through the portal, but it would need to be long enough for you to be able to throw it through the portal in front of you and grab it from the portal behind you, and then you could tie it together, but in the cartoon it doesn’t look long enough. There would only be one knot, and you could thread it through so that the knot was at both portals…

Your idea about two portals next to each other wouldn’t work, because the fabric would be severed I guess. It can’t just go into the wall…


Marc – I told you this was discussed in depth….

Looking at the cartoon the fabric is long enough to stretch across the room completely – assuming you tie one end to the portal gun as an anchor, and then put the rest through the portal, in theory it should be long enough for you to hold one end by the tips of your fingers, and reach the portal gun with the other arm….

It’s such a shame there will never be a real world situation that can be used to test this all out…


In my head, you would stand in the middle of the room and throw it through the blue, and catch it from the orange, and then tie it in the middle.

Does that make sense?


I think you could get away more with draping it through one, blue, holding onto the other end and then just reaching it from Orange to tie the knot in the middle…


How would you reach it though?


By stretching, and putting as much as you could through the portal leaving a bit for you to hold onto…  The blanket can’t be too much longer as it’s got to be a length to go across the room anway….


In theory either way would work if it was long enough.


Using a gravity tunnel it would work!


Marc wins!

That would be pleasant, too. The music is nice in the gravity beam.

Wouldn’t you eventually hit the wall though?


It’s a good idea – but the emitter is missing and you’d need an extra portal for that to work….

At this point we had to head home with Marc planning to create a simulation to check what would happen and everyone else planning to make diagrams/additional thoughts… more as it comes.


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