Q:

Just theoretical physics for a dorky game of Hackmaster:
Assuming you could propel a rock (spherical, weighing 1 lb) to a force of 1000 foot-pounds, how much damage would that rock do to a human in each of these cases, and differentiating between the rock breaking on impact, or the rock maintaining its shape, for: 1) head shot, 2) upper torso, 3) lower torso, and 4) a limb (pick one?)?
Thanks.

- Seth H (age 17)

Texas

- Seth H (age 17)

Texas

A:

Dear Seth, don't try this experiment at home.

First of all lets get the foot-pounds into an equivalent energy for a one pound rock. By the way, a foot-pound has units of energy, not force. I feel more comfortable working in metric units so using the conversion factor of 1 foot-pound = 1.356 Newton-meters so set E = 1356. A Newton-meter is the same as a Joule. Now one pound is equal to 0.454 kilograms. Equating this energy with kinetic energy, E = 1/2 mv^{2} , we can solve for the velocity of the rock obtaining v^{2} = (2 E)/m, or, doing the arithmetic; v = 77.24 meters per second. Converting back to English units using 1 m/sec = 2.24 mph you get 173 miles per hour.

I don't think you would like to be hit anywhere on your body by a one pound object going at 173 mph.

LeeH

Another way to see that is that 1000 ft-lbs of energy in a 1 lb object gives it the same energy as if it were in free frictionless fall for 1000 ft. Same conclusion. Mike W.

First of all lets get the foot-pounds into an equivalent energy for a one pound rock. By the way, a foot-pound has units of energy, not force. I feel more comfortable working in metric units so using the conversion factor of 1 foot-pound = 1.356 Newton-meters so set E = 1356. A Newton-meter is the same as a Joule. Now one pound is equal to 0.454 kilograms. Equating this energy with kinetic energy, E = 1/2 mv

I don't think you would like to be hit anywhere on your body by a one pound object going at 173 mph.

LeeH

Another way to see that is that 1000 ft-lbs of energy in a 1 lb object gives it the same energy as if it were in free frictionless fall for 1000 ft. Same conclusion. Mike W.

*(published on 01/19/2011)*