The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-06-2012, 11:03 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
what happens to a body when it hits the ground at terminal velocity?

Some years ago I read an article in Newsweek (just found it here) that talked about the fate of people on the top floors of the WTC during 9/11. Pictures and video footage famously showed a number of people who, instead of being burned to death by approaching flames, chose to jump to their deaths. I distinctly remembered this passage:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newsweek
They landed with such force, according to an eyewitness who was watching along with New York's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, that a pink mist of gore rose from the sidewalk as they hit.
I haven't done the math, but presumably when people jumped from the top floors of the WTC, they impacted the pavement at something close to terminal velocity. It's been pretty well documented that people who fall from great heights into water tend to die from blunt force trauma, so I would expect the damage from landing on a concrete sidewalk to be at least as bad. But how bad is it? Does a victim's skin reliably rupture and release "a pink mist of gore?" Have other eyewitnesses corroborated the one cited by Newsweek in the above article?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 12-06-2012, 11:18 AM
Grey Grey is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
I would think an explosive collapse of the lungs would involve a spray of blood tinged air.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-06-2012, 01:58 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 7,475
I should hope that when it happens to me, I should land directly on my head so the very first thing that happens is I won't be there to experience the rest of what happens to me.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-06-2012, 02:38 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
When I read that, I get a picture in my mind like what happens when you throw a water balloon on the sidewalk... but a human body is more durable than a balloon, or does it matter much at those levels of impact?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-06-2012, 03:49 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less
Posts: 10,735
From On Being the Right Size by JBS Haldane:
Quote:
Gravity, a mere nuisance to Christian, was a terror to Pope, Pagan, and Despair. To the mouse and any smaller animal it presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.
I think men probably splash, too...
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-06-2012, 03:52 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Hub of the sports world
Posts: 14,848
Quote:
You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat would probably be killed, though it can fall safely from the eleventh story of a building, a man is broken, a horse splashes.
J. B. S. Haldane,"On Being the Right Size"

ETA - Curses, beowulff

Last edited by Telemark; 12-06-2012 at 03:53 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-06-2012, 03:58 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
In Jules and Gedeon Naudet's 9/11 documentary, there's a horrific bit (one of many, actually) where the firemen in the lobby of one of the towers are hearing the sound of people hitting the ground outside. It's fair to say there is a liquid component involved.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-06-2012, 04:05 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 3,383
He would hit the ground with an impact force of close to 100,000 ft #'s of kinetic energy. So if you set a fully loaded tractor and 58ft trailer square on top of him it might have a similar effect.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:54 PM
Patch Patch is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Brief tour of liveleak.com reveals video and stills of suicides hitting the pavement. Bodies do indeed break apart.

The Hoover Dam one was brutal. Bad enough you're a jumper, but the cheese grater on the way down is a bad lead-in to the impact.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-07-2012, 12:17 AM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
TMI, TMI, TMI



I was the first onscene of a terminal velocity impact in a skydive gone bad some years ago. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 125-150 mph onto blacktop. I wasn't there at actual impact, so can't speak to the pink mist, but it would not surprise me. A variety of unrecognizeable chunks had spread out in 360 deg, each a red streak ending in a jello mold. Forearm with jagged bone 10-20 feet from a center pile of meat in a jumpsuit.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-07-2012, 07:12 AM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NY USA
Posts: 5,323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
In Jules and Gedeon Naudet's 9/11 documentary, there's a horrific bit (one of many, actually) where the firemen in the lobby of one of the towers are hearing the sound of people hitting the ground outside. It's fair to say there is a liquid component involved.
Yeah, I remember watching that. Something unexpected was how incredibly loud the sound of the impact of the bodies was on hitting the pavement even from inside the WTC lobby where they were filming at the time. It was akin to hearing an anvil land in a dumpster. The two French filmmakers had no idea what they were hearing but the firemen, many of whom had dealt with such situations before, said rather cold & calmly, "Those are jumpers".

I'm not going to give a link because it would undoubtedly be on a gore site, but I have in fact seen video of a 9/11 jumper impacting, and 'pink mist' is indeed an accurate description...
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-07-2012, 07:54 PM
Cheshire Human Cheshire Human is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NY, USA
Posts: 4,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by outlierrn View Post
I was the first onscene of a terminal velocity impact in a skydive gone bad some years ago. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 125-150 mph onto blacktop. I wasn't there at actual impact, so can't speak to the pink mist, but it would not surprise me. A variety of unrecognizeable chunks had spread out in 360 deg, each a red streak ending in a jello mold. Forearm with jagged bone 10-20 feet from a center pile of meat in a jumpsuit.
There's a song about it, amongst the people who 'jump and die'. Here's a Youtube: "Blood On the Risers", AKA "Gory Gory What a Helluva Way to Die" (same link, same song, just different search, which got the same URL). You can get lyrics for that by Googling the words in quotes. You can also get incredibly better recordings looking for video or audio files better than that. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm....
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-07-2012, 10:23 PM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Yes, we all sang that at the wake, including the widow.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:03 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.