Ever wonder why the people taking cell phone videos of gunfights
aren't themselves hit by bullets? Turns out, there's no good explanation
other than dumb luck, because according to the laws of physics, they
should be totally screwed.
During the manhunt for the Boston Marathon Bombers last week, a bunch
of people posted videos online of the firefights, often shot from where
they stood, with smartphone cameras. Writing in Esquire,
Lt. Col. Robert Bateman was incensed by the life-threatening idiocy of
these amateur civilian reporters and speculated that only a poor
understanding of science could explain this:
Power, with guns, is dictated
by physics. As my father the physicist taught me at way too early of an
age, F = M x A. Force = Mass x Acceleration. The striking, or
penetrating, power of the bullet is determined by how heavy (mass) it
is, multiplied by how fast it is moving. Thus, a small bullet, moving at
extreme speeds, can cause a lot of damage. A large bullet can move at
much slower speeds, and cause the same damage. All other things being
equal, however, the higher the speed, the greater the penetration. Now,
that word "penetration" is one you should think about.
And here's just how powerful bullets are:
In the real world, I have
converted a sedan into a convertible, quite easily, using bullets. Not
even a lot of bullets either. If the other guy is firing anything with
greater hitting power than, say, a .32 (Google .32 caliber, .45 caliber,
5.56mm and 7.62mm...I can't do it ALL for you) it will go through
things. Metals, woods, sheet-rock? No problem. Your front door will not
protect you, at all. Nor will the walls of a normal suburban house, nor
the three Sheet-rock walls beyond that. In a car, the only thing that
really stops most bullets would be the engine block itself. All the rest
of the body of a car, well, basically tin-foil. All those cop movies
you remember from the 70s, when they hid behind the opened door of their
patrol car and shot at the bad guy? Yea, no. Do not think that works.
That is stupid, and nobody but actors in Hollywood actually does that.