“Everybody’s a critic”*…
In her latest hit, Miley Cyrus sings that she “came in like a wrecking ball.” David McDonagh, a third-year natural sciences student at The Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at University of Leicester, did the math and concluded that it’s probably a bad idea to literally smash someone’s walls with your body:
An ordinary wrecking ball is a massive, incredibly durable object. It has to be to break down the buildings and structures we take so much time putting up. An average ball could be anywhere from 1,000 to 7,000 kilograms of solid metal. The material helps, but what really gets the work done is the swinging. When you swing a massive object, it gains a lot of momentum. And when that momentum suddenly changes—when the ball hits a wall—a huge amount of force is produced. That’s what makes it through concrete and steel and brick. So how good a wrecking ball would Miley be?
Miley is nowhere near as heavy as an average wrecking ball, so to produce the same momentum, she would have to come in incredibly fast. Assuming she weighed 125 pounds, she would have to come in like a wrecking ball at over 390 miles per hour to generate the same momentum.
And what happens when this Miley ball hits a wall? Assuming a rapid deceleration, Miley pulls 350 G’s impacting the wall with over 198,000 Newtons—a force equivalent to getting hit with all the force rocketed out of a 747 engine at once.
If Miley really did come in like a wrecking ball, she would never again hit so hard in love, because she’d be dead.
* cliche (c.f., here)
As we have second thoughts about our similes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1930 that Amy Johnson left Croydon, south of London, on on a flight to Darwin, becoming the first female pilot (or in the language of the time, “aviatrix”) to fly solo from England to Australia, a journey of 11,000 miles. She had learned to fly only a little more than a year before.
The first British-trained women qualified as a ground engineer, she went on to set a number of long-distance flying records in the 30s, both solo and flying with her husband, Jim Mollison. She flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary, where she died during a ferry flight in 1941.
The second-hand de Havilland DH.60 Gipsy Moth she bought to make the Australia flight is on display in London’s Science Museum.