MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Direction and force in an explosion

Date: Mon Sep 18 10:13:40 2000
Posted By: Daniel Fletcher, Anthropologist, Pre-Med.
Area of science: Physics
ID: 968820577.Ph

"Given a cube in which four sides have uniform strength, one side is 
weaker than the first four, but stronger than the sixth, and the remaining 
side is weaker than the other 5.  If an explosion occurs with in the cube, 
would it be possible for the 2 weaker sides to be blown off while the 4 
others remain, or will the weakest side blow off first and all force be 
directed out that opening, leaving the other 5 sides intact?"

Excellent question, and I will give you my best educated guess. In a 
simple explosion, where force is evenly distributed against all six sides, 
then the two weaker sides would be blown off, weakest first, then the next 
strongest. In the end you would probably have a four sided figure.

In the real world, however, explosions are very fast and rarely even. The 
tendency of a container of any shape is to becomce spherical due to the 
spherical nature of the explosion. If this is not possible due to the 
construction and composition of the container, then there will be a tear 
in the container as it tries to become spherical.

This tear is usually at an edge, where two sides meet. If all of the edges 
are uniform in strength, then the tear will probably occur in the center 
ot the thinnest and weakest side. 

Depending upon the rate of decomposition ( the speed of the explosion) the 
expanding gasses may simply exit the tear and leave you with a ball instad 
of a cube. If the explosion is extremely fast, however ,  there may be two 
tears, on in the weakest side and one in the next weakest side, the tears 
will rip accross the container, leaving you with two halves.

Honestly, there is no way to predict it exactly, there are too many 
variables. I hope I have helped.

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