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Niels Bohr: Gunslinger!

  1. Feb 5, 2010 #1

    Doc Al

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8493000/8493203.stm" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2010 #2
    That's hard to believe. I'm pretty confident that I could draw a gun and fire it as my opponent is just starting to grab his gun.
    If you've ever played "slaps", you'd know that the person who's getting slapped has a disadvantage. They get slapped way more than they avoid getting slapped.
    I'd have to see high speed footage of people actually drawing guns, because everything I've experienced similar to that has been inconsistent with that hypothesis.
  4. Feb 5, 2010 #3


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    In the hand slap game, there's so much feigning though. Probably a game changer.
  5. Feb 5, 2010 #4
    Are you suggesting Bohr's opponents let him win?
  6. Feb 5, 2010 #5
    Good point, but some people don't feign. I don't feign. I sit perfectly still. It drives some people crazy.
    No, I think he's just that good.

    I'm just the kind of person where if I experience one thing my entire life, it takes more than an article to convince me that the opposite is true.
  7. Feb 5, 2010 #6
    This is terrible. I tried this out with the local sherif and he lost. I offered him best out of three, but by then he had no pulse. I guess I should have stopped with the deputies.
  8. Feb 5, 2010 #7
    I don't. Bohr based all this on movies after all, pure fiction, and I think his results indicate a kind of self hypnosis that he was able to press onto his colleagues/opponents, or to which they already subscribed, having seen the same westerns: the good guy waits for the bad guy to draw, but still beats him. Bohr never went up against a real quickdraw. They can draw, fire, and hit the target at close range (say, ten feet) in .25 seconds. The best you could do was also hit them, but it's doubtful you could draw second and knock them out before they got their shot into your midsection.

    I agree with you that the person who draws first has the advantage.
  9. Feb 5, 2010 #8
    I'm not sure that there ever was in reality a contest of the type depicted in the cinema as a showdown. Perhaps in recent years, there have been some non-lethal contests using paint guns or other gadgets. As I understand the cinematic showdown, two people face each other with their hands near the handles of their pistols until one or the other decides to draw the weapon and fire it at the other one. There are three sets of rules: The rules of the showdown in reality, the rules of the showdown in the minds of the fictional characters of a movie, and the cinematic rules of the showdown. One cinematic rule is that the good guy has to wait for the bad guy to make the first move. This seems to point to a common sense rule in the minds of the fictional characters: If the one who makes the first move kills the other, then he is guilty of murder. The good guy waits so that he can claim that he fired in self-defense. Indeed, such a cinematic rule makes so much sense because that is the rule of the showdown in reality (or rather, it is a rule of life that precludes real showdowns). Contrast this with the duel. This also has three sets of rules. However, we know that duels actually occured. The reason they could take place is that there is a third party who drops a handkerchief, or provides some other signal that relieves the dueling parties of making the first move.

    If there is an advantage to waiting for the other to fire first, then perhaps that contributed to the lack of showdowns in reality. I can just imagine one of the guys starving to death waiting for the other to make the first move. This would be the case both in lethal, and in non-lethal contests. What's more, since the bad guy is determined to fire first in any case, it would be to his advantage to hire a confederate to stand within sight, but out of harm's way and to provide some signal to which he could react by firing at his opponent.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2010
  10. Feb 5, 2010 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Given the hypothesis, the trick would be to train yourself to act as if reacting. Maybe this is what determined who had the fastest gun in the west.
  11. Feb 5, 2010 #10
    I don't really get what they mean. They think that purposely drawing your gun and firing takes longer than reacting to someone else drawing their gun. I can agree with that; the reaction is probably a reflex, but the purposely drawing of the gun takes some 'decision' time ("Shall I do it now? Or now? Wait, how about now?"). But I have a problem with this: what does it matter how long this 'decision time' is? Your opponent should not react after you have decided, and drawn your gun. So you can take 10 minutes deciding, and then draw your gun in 1 second. If your opponent is just as skillful he then also takes 1 second to draw his gun, but he will start slightly later and will lose.

    I think only the time required to actually draw the gun and fire it should be taken into account (and not the time your body is waiting for your brain to decide). I can't see how and why that would be quicker for a reaction than for a purposely decided action. In any case, the time between the decision moment and the moment of drawing is irrelevant (unless you are giving away some unintentional body language which your opponent picks up. But then, your opponent would actually have to draw before you are drawing your gun, making the 'theory' false again.)
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