Phenomena

Underwater Explosions

Underwater explosions are incredibly dangerous and destructive, and this animation shows you why. What you see here are three balloons, each half-filled with water and half with air. A small explosive has been set off next to them in a pool. In air, the immense energy of an explosion actually doesn’t propagate all that far because much of it gets expended in compressing the air. Water, on the other hand, is incompressible, so that explosive energy just keeps propagating. For squishy, partially air-filled things like us humans or these balloons, that explosion’s force transmits into us with nearly its full effect, causing expansion and contraction of anything compressible inside us as our interior and exterior pressures try to equalize. The results can be devastating. To see the equivalent experiment in air, check out Mark Rober’s full video on how to survive a grenade blast. (Image credit: M. Rober, source)

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