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Physics of Piercings?

  1. Jun 3, 2014 #1
    This may be considered a homework question but it does not fit the template. Please bear with me.

    For my final grade in my physics class, I have to explain an actual phenomenon or example where physics is seen in the real world, and I decided to choose the physics of piercings, since I am interested in body modifications. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much and what I did find was incredibly vague and lacked actual scientific explanations.
    I was able to figure out that the concepts of force and maybe projectiles are involved (if a gun is used) but I have not gotten much more than that. I know that angles are involved as well because you cannot simply force a needle into someone, like a pushpin, but they are either tilted up or down.

    Is there anything I am missing or can say about piercings? My presentation has to be very descriptive and must have a concrete connection to physics. Any contributions would be helpful :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 3, 2014 #2


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    Well, you can look at the difference between force and pressure. Why is it easier for pointy things to pierce your skin than blunt things? Why is it that I can balance my whole body weight on my feet with no problem, but if I just lightly push a needle at my skin, the needle goes through?
  4. Jun 3, 2014 #3
    So would it be too off-topic to discuss resistance? (Ex: Sharper objects resist less to skin and therefore need less force to pierce while blunt objects cannot break the skin unless more force is applied)

    Thank you for your help, by the way. :thumbs:
  5. Jun 4, 2014 #4


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    Poke a sharp pencil through paper.
    Try poking it through skin.
    You should notice a difference. Paper does not have a much flexibility as skin. Skin springs back after the stress has been removed.

    You could investigate the material aspects of skin and underlying connective tissue.
    For example, why is it that when poking a hole through paper with a needle, the needle will fall through the hole but by doing the same thing with skin, the needle will be held in position. Surely one does not want a piercing that will wobble around ( or maybe one does ) in its hole. What is it about skin that makes this possible?
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