Earlier this week, Andreas Wahl, a Norwegian physicist shoots himself underwater in the name of science. In his newest video, he appears to be underwater in a swimming pool and up the ante even further by using a loaded gun to test the power of fluid resistance.
The experiment, produced as the latest entry in research company NRK Viten’s death-defying series of scientific investigations, sees Wahl standing up to his neck in water and holding a length of string that is attached to the assault weapon.
“Shot coming,” states Wahl, as he stares down the barrel of the gun. After counting down from three, the scientist fires the weapon at himself and then exhibits visible relief as the bullet sinks to the bottom of the pool.
But why are guns less effective underwater?
Despite exiting the gun with the same power as it would have above water – and still firing due to gunpowder being waterproof – water is 800 times denser than air. This results in the bullet being held back by resistance, limiting the speed and range of the weapon.
Science Channel Outrageous Acts ofScience explains that “guns work underwater the same way they work above water,” but that pressure affects the trajectory and effectiveness of the bullet. The water in front of the bullet is highly pressurised, the water behind the bullet is of low pressure and in between is a vacuum of water that boils to create the gas bubbles visible in the video.
The momentum of this happening squeezes the gas tighter and tighter until the gas becomes so pressurized that it explodes out again. This then osculates backwards and forwards, until all of the bubbles start getting smaller and smaller and disappear completely,” explains Outrageous Acts of Science.
So, despite Wahl seemingly putting himself in harm’s way, there is physically no way that the gun in question could have fired a bullet further than two metres. In fact, this realization makes shooting himself one of Wahl’s least impressive stunts.
But seriously folks, falling 14 metres to the ground to test Newton’s law and roasting himself alive were much more risky. Watch as the slow-motion cameras capture the effect of the bullet’s force on the rippling water.