Faster than a speeding...

>> Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If you haven't seen it over at Laughing Squid or elsewhere online, prepare to be stupefied by high-speed film (one million fps) of bullet impacts made by a German ballistics measurement company. And yes, it's worth watching all ten minutes.

I have to admit to a weird mixed reaction: on the one hand, as a nerd with testosterone, watching high-speed catastrophic physics like bullets shattering is super, super cool. On the other hand--maybe this is the touchy-feelie liberal speaking--there's something a little horrifying here: I can't help imagining what this would look like if the targets were made of bone, or flesh, or somebody's internal organs. (At the risk of sounding horribly insensitive--especially since it's quite the opposite, it's coming from a heightened sensitivity--I can't watch some of the samples without imagining Lee Harvey Oswald's third bullet and John Kennedy's head.) The net result is a kind of fascinated horror or horrified fascination or both.

There is frankly something beautiful in many of these impacts. Fearful symmetries of exploding shrapnel, elegant curves of crater and spheres of displaced mass. But they're also gruesome. Leaving aside legal issues and whatnot (let me add that I have no problem with hunting and love me some venison), there should be no objection to pointing out that a gun is a tool designed for the sole purpose of killing something, whether you're talking about an edible animal or an inedible enemy. (Well, I suppose we could start asking soldiers and/or self-defending homeowners to eat what they kill and use every part, but it hardly seems appropriate, now does it?) A very small mass has a very large acceleration applied to it, and when that force is imparted to whatever the small mass hits next, well, it isn't very nice, and that's what you're seeing in these images, slowed-down and up-close.

It's amazing, it's awful, it's mesmerizing.

(H/T to Laughing Squid!)


Konstantin B. Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 10:20:00 AM EDT  

That could be a theme to the next Bond movie.

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