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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


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    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


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    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


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    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:
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