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How much pressure on the skull to kill a person? 
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#1
Feb808, 02:32 AM

P: 413

I know it's old already.. but this came up when I was lecturing my mom on the evil effects of urban myths and stuff.. so here it goes..
I'm throwing a 5 rupee coin [Weight: 0.009 kg], from the Empire state building's roof [Height: 381m]. The coin hits a passerby on his head, as in.. vertically i.e. the coin's circumference hits him: So, the GPE of the coin is: [itex]\textrm{U} = \textrm{mgh} = (0.009 \times 9.8 \times 381) ~J = 33.7~J[/itex]. Assuming that the coin hits the head and stops is 0.1s (which I assume is more than what would practically happen) it means that when the coin hits the person, it hits with a velocity: [tex] v = \sqrt{\frac{2\textrm{U}}{\textrm{m}}} [/tex] [tex] v = 86.54~\textrm{m/s} [/tex] meaning, it has a momentum of: [tex] p = 0.778 ~\textrm{kg} \cdot \textrm{m/s} [/tex] which was imparted in 0.1s, meaning a total force of: [tex] F = \frac{0.778}{0.1} = 7.78~\textrm{kg} \cdot \textrm{m} / \textrm{s}^2 [/tex] I stained the coins circumference with black ink, and placed it on paper, to get the area that the coin would hit. I got a rough rectangle of 0.2cm x 0.5 cm, meaning a total area of [itex]10^{5}~\textrm{m}^2[/itex]. So, the pressure on the skull at that point would be: [tex] P = \frac{7.78}{10^{5}}~\textrm{Pa} = 7.78 \times 10^{5}~\textrm{Pa} [/tex] which is like, around 8 times the atmospheric pressure. So, the question is.. could this kill a person? And, if the time within which the coin stops is like, 10 times less, the pressure is 10 times more. Since, i'm not sure about the interval.. if the coin hits in like 0.01s, the pressure would be 80 times the atmospheric pressure. Could that kill a person? 


#2
Feb808, 08:04 AM

P: 813

I think the coin would stop much faster then 0.1 seconds and if the coin lands on an edge the pressure will also be higher. I have read once in a news group that 90 atmospheres was survivable but you would be barely able to breath. That said I won't volunteer to be your test dummy.



#3
Feb808, 08:24 AM

Sci Advisor
P: 5,539

The coin will rapidly reach terminal velocity, which well below 90 m/s. Didn't 'Mythbusters' do an episode on this?



#4
Feb808, 08:46 AM

P: 82

How much pressure on the skull to kill a person?



#5
Feb808, 09:09 AM

P: 413




#6
Feb808, 10:42 AM

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#7
Feb808, 11:06 AM

P: 1,127

Surely you've been hit by hail which is more aerodynamic than a farthing and falls farther.



#8
Feb808, 11:28 AM

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So large 1inch hail can reach 15m/s = 35mph 


#9
Feb808, 12:44 PM

P: 1,127

Yes, hail that size (and bigger) does sometimes kill people. There was an instance somewhere in Asia a few decades back where they had something like 8 cm diameter hail! But, the little stuff under 1 cm hurts but that's all.



#10
Feb808, 12:50 PM

P: 813




#11
Feb808, 02:08 PM

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P: 8,964

The hail around here can be pretty nasty. To start with, it's extremely dense, with no air spaces between the ice crystals. If you bust one in two, it looks like an onion inside. There are regularly millions of dollars in haildamage insurance claims after a big storm (that includes crop damage). The stones break car windshields, severely dent the bodywork, and punch through house siding. Usually about the biggest is smaller than a golfball, but it's been known to come in baseball size. You don't want to get pelted with that stuff for long.



#12
Feb808, 03:04 PM

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