Ask A Genius 418 – The Physics of Punching (1)
October 20, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the physics of punching [Laughing]?
Rick Rosner: For someone who is somewhat of a wuss, such as myself, I have done a lot of punching in my life. I have punched a fair amount. I was a doorman in bars for 25 years. I got punched – I don’t know, maybe – a dozen times.
I would usually forget to punch back. I never punched anyone in a bar. I worked in one chain of bars if you punched a customer. But you got $25 if you took a punch. I used to punch myself in the face to toughen up.
In the gym, I used to work with the big rubber guys for practice. That you’re supposed to beat up. I punched a lot of walls. This past week, I punched two walls because I got pissed off. Yet, having punched a lot of walls, I never punched through it.
In movies, you always see people punch through drywall. The angry husband or dad punches next to the wife’s head and then punches through the drywall. I have punched a lot of walls and never even dented drywall.
We should talk about the physics of that. For one thing, most walls have a stud, at most every 16 inches. A vertical piece of wood holding the wall together every 1 foot and 4 inches. So, if you punch and happen to be over or near a stud, the wall will not move or break.
Your fist is, maybe, 3 or 4 inches wide. There is only a sweet spot of around 3 or 4 inches between studs where you might get enough flex in the drywall to crack it, and break through.
But that three and a half or 4 inches gives you less than a 25% chance of hitting the sweet spot. Also, it is harder to punch through drywall than you think.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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