1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Car smashing

  1. Oct 20, 2005 #1
    Probably a dumb question:
    I've been curious after seeing some of these car bashing type events at universities and such, how is it possible to crush the steel frame of a car using only a mallet/sledge hammer? I thought the steel pillars on the roof of a car was supposed to be able to at least withstand the weight of the car. Is a sledge hammer capable of producing more force than the weight of the car?
    These cars are crushed with sledge hammers:
    http://www.ccboe.org/cacc/misc/misc_06.htm [Broken]
    These kids look like they've crushed this car with sledge hammers and/or jumping on it:
    I wouldn't even have thought it humanly possible to do this much damage:
    http://www.washjeff.edu/phideltatheta/carsmash.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2005 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Certainly! Remember that force is equal to acceleration times mass (f=ma). While the weight (mass) of the hammer is much less than the weight of a car, when you have an impact, the acceleration (deceleration) is enormous, resulting in a force hundreds (or even thousands) of times the weight of the hammer.
  4. Oct 20, 2005 #3


    User Avatar

    Wouldn't pressure (pressure= Force / area) have something to do w/ why a sledge hammer (force spread over a small surface area) would inflict more damage than a roll over ( force spread over a large surface area)?
  5. Oct 20, 2005 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yup. That's why it's better to have your foot run over by an Abrams tank than be stomped on by a woman in high-heels.:biggrin:
  6. Oct 20, 2005 #5
    Umm, I'll take the high heels any day over a friggin tank - and surface area be damned! :bugeye:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook