diving on newspaper

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Mattitude | 04:35 Tue 26th Jul 2005 | Science
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if you float a piece of newspaper in a pool and dive onto it, can it break bones?


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1. paper mushes in water

2. paper folds

3. no

Click here and scroll down to Item 3. There you will see that a newspaper easily has the "strength" - for want of a better word - to snap a wooden ruler in half. I don't know whether the same principle as is explained there would apply to broken bones, but obviously, if so, the dive would have to follow the placing of the paper on the water before it became soggy! (I'm not a scientist, so I daresay someone who is will soon appear to say I've got it all wrong!)

Surely it depends on the depth of the water? 2" and you are done for!

Quizmonster's answer doesn't really follow, as the paper isn't being moved though the air like with the ruler. In the ruler experiment it's acting similar to a parachute - the large area means a great air resistance - something you can feel if running with a big sheet of cardboard.

The resistance would be felt if you were diving up from the bottom of the pool and banged your head on the newspaper, although I think the effect would be pretty limited.

If you dived into a rubber raft I wouldn't expect broken bones, anything floating on water has too much give. But if you were going fast enough, you could probably break your bones on the water alone -say by jumping out of a plane.

In conclusion - only if you would have broken your bones without the newspaper being there.

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