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Question on limitations of human strength and the durability of the human chestbone ;)

  1. Oct 10, 2014 #1


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    Hello everyone,

    The following is continued research on a book my wife and I are writing. In said book our Heroine has enhanced speed and strength but during the final act of the book she is constrained to the limits of human strength. We have decided that she would be capable of the limits of what is humanly possible but not beyond. This leads to our final fight scene where she is fighting the arch villain. My wife would very much like for the Heroine to deliver the final blow by penetrating the Villain's Chest-bone but I have no idea if this is physically possible.

    Can this happen?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2014 #2


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    By "chest bone" do you mean the sternum? Or do you mean break through the ribs?
    Penetrate using what? With a sword, or other sharp weapon, definitely. With a blunt object, perhaps. With her fists...very unlikely. You might be able to break a rib or two with a strong punch, but there's no way you're tearing through all that pectoral muscle and through the rib cage to make a hole in a person's chest with your fist.

    The only way you might be able to get enough pressure is perhaps by extending your fingers to make the area of contact much much smaller. In such a case, I would expect your fingers to break long before you break through the other person's chest.
  4. Oct 13, 2014 #3


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    yes she would be using her fist. and thank you for confirmation that it wouldn't work. we can now start to re write the scene to either change what she does or invent a mechanism to make it possible.

    I appreciate the information.
  5. Oct 13, 2014 #4
    When people get CPR it's pretty common for the breastbone to break, sometimes a few ribs too. When I had my heart attack a few years ago, it was the cartiledge in the middle of my breast bone. I think. Small price to pay for getting blood to circulate through your brain.
  6. Oct 14, 2014 #5
    What tends to break during CPR (other than the occasional rib) is the small triangular end bone of the sternum, in Swedish known as the "dagger bone". If it dislodges it can cause extensive damage to all the surrounding tissue. This small bone could also be broken off durin your final fight, but this would lead to a prolonged death- perhaps not what you are looking for...
  7. Oct 17, 2014 #6


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    You are talking about the xiphoid process. Sure, you can kill someone by hitting this..
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