Ask A Genius 419 – The Physics of Punching (2)
October 21, 2018
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Rick Rosner: The drywall in our house was built in 1966. It’s 5/8ths of an inch thick. I think more recent drywall is half of an inch thick. You will easily punch through 5/8ths drywall.
In even older houses, you have plaster in half. You have vertical studs and then horizontal strips of wood to hold this mortar; that is probably 58/ths. Over the mortar, you have several layers of plaster that have been trowelled on.
You will not punch through that unless you’re a superhero. There’s that. If you are going to punch through stuff, then you want to punch through the greatest surface area of your knuckles.
If you make a fist and then look at your fist, you’ve got your first knuckle. The knuckles furthest up on your arm, right where your fingers start. If you look at those knuckles, and then the inch and a half or the two-inch lower half of your fingers when you make a fist, when you punch something, you want to make sure it’s with the whole lower half of your fingers.
It should all make contact with whatever you’re punching, so that the force is transmitted to what you’re punching but it is transmitted across seven square inches. If you hit something off, so that only one or two knuckles make contact, that’s no good. You might break a knuckle.
The way to transmit force with your fist is across the greatest surface area of your fist. Otherwise, you break your hand. Boxing gloves are not to protect the head of the person punched but the knuckles of the person punching because your head is less fragile than your knuckles.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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