How Would a Shootout Work in Zero Gravity?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 07, 2012 12:24 AM GMT
    And now you know.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/08/04/would_guns_work_in_zero_gravity_fact_checking_the_zero_g_gunfight_in_total_recall.html

    n a climactic scene in the new sci-fi actioner Total Recall, our heroes Hauser (Colin Farrell) and Melina (Jessica Biel) find themselves caught in a zero-gravity shootout near the center of the Earth. Would guns really work in zero gravity?

    Yes. Unlike most ballpoint pens, for example, which are famously ill-equipped for the weightlessness of outer space, gravity has nothing to do with the mechanical functioning of a gun. Instead, both semi-automatic and automatic guns rely on springs (not gravity) to bring the next bullet into the chamber, before a small explosion within the gun fires the bullet.

    However, as in the film, a zero-g gunman should exercise some caution, as firing a bullet would also send him or her flying in the opposite direction. When you shoot a gun under normal conditions on Earth, the friction between your body and the ground keeps you in place. With every shot you experience recoil (your arms and shoulders are forced back by the force of the bullet’s projection), but with an experienced shooter it’s only about an inch to a foot, and you should have no problem staying on your feet. In zero gravity, on the other hand, even the smallest recoil would send you backwards. In most cases this would be very manageable, however, bouncing you back at a speed of less than one meter per second, so you wouldn’t have to worry about seriously injuring yourself. Even if you fired a .44 Magnum, for example, and weighed only 100 pounds, the recoil velocity would be under 0.5 mph, which is still less than walking speed. If you wanted to really propel yourself using a gun, you’d want to use a really big one.

    What about the bullet? Would it be more quick and deadly in space? Not really. The speed of the bullet would remain roughly the same in zero gravity as it is on Earth, so shooting in space is not going to make your gun any more or less lethal to your space enemy. The only way you’d see a noticeable difference is if you were firing the bullet over a long distance. On Earth, a combination of air resistance and gravity slows the bullet and gradually pulls it down towards the Earth. This is why when you shoot your weapon, you have to aim slightly higher than your target. This force is so small, however, that over short distances there would essentially be no difference in the shot’s trajectory.
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    Aug 07, 2012 5:52 AM GMT
    A bullet fired from a gun follows Newton's first law of motion.

    In space, there is no resistance (unless it hits something) so, theoretically, you could have a shootout between galaxies with greater accuracy that you'd have between houses in urban development.
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    Aug 07, 2012 5:59 AM GMT
    I had this argument once with someone about whether or not you could turn yourself around in space and face the opposite direction if you had nothing to push off of. The guy I was talking to refuse to think that you couldn't do it. Back me up guys, it would be impossible without something to counter your inertia, right? I need to win this argument, even if I don't talk talk to the guy anymore.
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    Aug 07, 2012 6:06 AM GMT
    Like a slow motion astral ballet for nerds?
  • TheAlchemixt

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    Aug 07, 2012 6:09 AM GMT
    Like the Matrix?
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    Aug 07, 2012 6:11 AM GMT
    SkittleGangsta saidI had this argument once with someone about whether or not you could turn yourself around in space and face the opposite direction if you had nothing to push off of. The guy I was talking to refuse to think that you couldn't do it. Back me up guys, it would be impossible without something to counter your inertia, right? I need to win this argument, even if I don't talk talk to the guy anymore.
    You can use your own body's strength for momentum, which will translate to inertia.

    Ask anyone who does aerial stunts to explain that in more detail if you wish. icon_wink.gif
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Aug 07, 2012 6:12 AM GMT
    It would be a lot more interesting to see me shoot a load in zero gravity. I cum huge.
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    Aug 07, 2012 6:15 AM GMT
    MikemikeMike saidIt would be a lot more interesting to see me shoot a load in zero gravity. I cum huge.
    It'll just burn up during reentry, so what's the point?
  • TheAlchemixt

    Posts: 2294

    Aug 07, 2012 6:17 AM GMT
    paulflexes said
    MikemikeMike saidIt would be a lot more interesting to see me shoot a load in zero gravity. I cum huge.
    It'll just burn up during reentry, so what's the point?

    That does not sound very pleasant.
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    Aug 07, 2012 6:21 AM GMT
    Mixleanmachine said
    paulflexes said
    MikemikeMike saidIt would be a lot more interesting to see me shoot a load in zero gravity. I cum huge.
    It'll just burn up during reentry, so what's the point?

    That does not sound very pleasant.
    It beats "tuning."