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What Would Happen if You Fired a Gun in Outer Space?

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February 27, 2012

What Would Happen if You Fired a Gun in Outer Space?

By Phil Bourjaily

The triple barreled TP 82 pistol -- twin 12.5x70mm smoothbore barrels over a 5.45x39 (the Russian 5.56 Nato equivalent) -- went into space and back many times from 1986 to 2006 as part of the Russian Soyuz program. The stock-handle also served as a machete. The gun was packed in survival kits and intended for use here on Earth in the event the Soyuz capsule landed off-course and couldn’t be recovered. But, could it have been fired in space? Suppose the cosmonauts were attacked by aliens, or they wanted to do a fly-by strafing of some target on Earth?

We never got to find out. According to media reports, the ammo for this gun had become unusable by 2007 and it was determined that a more conventional semi-automatic pistol would be used on future missions.

I always assumed that a gun could shoot in space, and that the bullet would fly forever and you would fly backwards forever from the recoil. It turns out the real answers are much more interesting and complex.

According to this story, yes, guns can fire in space and they would seem to have a range of about 40,000 light years. And, you would have to be careful if you fired your space gun while in planetary orbit, as the bullet could go all the way around the world and hit you in the back. Here is the story from “Life’s Little Mysteries.”

Fires can't burn in the oxygen-free vacuum of space, but guns can shoot. Modern ammunition contains its own oxidizer, a chemical that will trigger the explosion of gunpowder, and thus the firing of a bullet, wherever you are in the universe. No atmospheric oxygen required.

The only difference between pulling the trigger on Earth and in space is the shape of the resulting smoke trail. In space, "it would be an expanding sphere of smoke from the tip of the barrel," said Peter Schultz an astronomer at Brown University who researches impact craters.

The possibility of gunfire in space allows for all kinds of absurd scenarios.

Shooting stars

Imagine you're floating freely in the vacuum between galaxies — just you, your gun and a single bullet. You have two options. You either can spend all of eternity trying to figure out how you got there, or you can shoot the damn cosmos.

If you do the latter, Newton's third law dictates that the force exerted on the bullet will impart an equal and opposite force on the gun, and, because you're holding the gun, you. With very few intergalactic atoms against which to brace yourself, you'll start moving backward (not that you’d have any way of knowing). If the bullet leaves the gun barrel at 1,000 meters per second, you — because you're much more massive than it is — will head the other way at only a few centimeters per second.

Once shot, the bullet will keep going, quite literally, forever. "The bullet will never stop, because the universe is expanding faster than the bullet can catch up with any serious amount of mass" to slow it down, said Matija Cuk, an astronomer with joint appointments at Harvard University and the SETI Institute. (If the universe weren't expanding, then the one or two atoms per cubic centimeter encountered by the bullet in the near-vacuum of space would bring it to a standstill after 10 million light-years.)

Getting down to details, the universe expands at a rate of 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec (about 3 million light-years, or the average distance between galaxies). By Cuk's calculations, this means matter that is 40,000 to 50,000 light-years away from the bullet would move away from it at about the same speed at which it is travelling, and would thus be forever out of reach. In the entire future of the universe, the bullet will catch up only to atoms that are less than 40,000 or so light-years from the chamber of your gun.

Speaking of you, you'll be bobbing through space forever, too.

Shooting giants from the hip

Guns do actually get carried to space, though not quite to the void between galaxies. For decades, the standard survival pack for Russian cosmonauts has included a gun. Until recently, it wasn't just any gun, but "a deluxe all-in-one weapon with three barrels and a folding stock that doubles as a shovel and contains a swing-out machete," according to space historian James Oberg. The space guns are issued in case the cosmonauts need one back on Earth, so that they can protect themselves if emergency landing of their Soyuz spacecraft has left them deserted in a treacherous region. But still, cosmonauts in theory could shoot their guns before they landed.

So what if, during a spacewalk, a cosmonaut opened fire on Jupiter?

He or she should feel free to shoot from the hip. According to Robert Flack, a physicist at University College London, the enormous gravitational field of Jupiter is likely to suck in a bullet even if it is badly aimed. "Jupiter is so huge, it will capture the bullet and then it will follow a curved path down into the planet," Flack said.

And as it does, it will pick up some serious steam. According to Schultz, if the bullet is shot straight toward Jupiter, the planet's gravity will accelerate the ammo to the eye-popping speed of almost 60 kilometers per second by the time it crosses the gas giant's threshold.

Watch your back

Shooting someone in the back is a cowardly act. In space, "theoretically you could shoot yourself in the back," Schultz said.

You could do it, for example, while in orbit around a planet. Because objects orbiting planets are actually in a constant state of free fall, you have to get the setup just right. You'd have to shoot horizontally at just the right altitude for the bullet to circle the planet and fall back to where it started (you). And you'd also have to consider how much you'll get kicked backwards (and consequently, how much your altitude will change) when you fire.

"The aim has to be perfect," Schultz said.

Such a scenario isn't as absurd as it sounds. In fact, Schultz said scientists at one point were considering setting up such a self-hit in space in order to investigate the effects of high-speed impacts.

Comments (42)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Theoretical physics is a piece of cake...I predicted all these things in 4th grade, using only the 1972 October Solunar tables and a 15-inch length of licorice whip (red).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mibasshunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

ok, is it me or are paragraphs 5,6, and 7 the same as paragraphs 8,9, and 10?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bryan01 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

The gun would only work inside a space ship or suit that is pressurized and contains oxygen; Fire it in the vacuum of space and you get nothing - there is no oxygen to allow the gunpowder to burn.

-16 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

"Fires can't burn in the oxygen-free vacuum of space, but guns can shoot. Modern ammunition contains its own oxidizer, a chemical that will trigger the explosion of gunpowder, and thus the firing of a bullet, wherever you are in the universe. No atmospheric oxygen required."

Bryan01, from the article above.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Bryan01

See paragraph 5 above, it is a true statement.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IND_NRA wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

In terms of matter in space- we have to take into account that there is also anti matter and these energy would repell true matter and thus be destroyed, but this is still one of the great unsolved problems of physics. Just throwing stones at a glass house. Tkae care y'all.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Come to the Dark Side, Phil. It's your Destiny.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bryan01 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Ok, maybe it would work.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from deerhunterrick wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Last time I was in outer space was Aug 18th 1969, haven't gone back since

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wildartstech wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

You'd fly almost as fast in the other direction of the bullet unless you were tethered to something which is generally speaking a bad idea, unless you're in a tree stand. Of course if you made it to space and the first thing you thought to do was get up in a tree stand and let one rip... then I guess the universe is a better place already.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from alwaysWRIGHT wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

wow, I thought for sure you would need oxygen to fire a gun in space, thats awesome hooray for modern firearms!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

If you have the need to shoot a gun while in space, I have a feeling whatever you are shooting at is going to vaporize you and the ship you rode in on.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

If one shoots himself in the back with a gun, wouldn't he have to use boomerang bullets??

To oryx: Betcha cheated and used a slide-rule for your astronomical ciphering, now we know you're not as sharp as a whip(as in licorice) as you thought you were. (probably some young dudes on here that don't even know what a slide-rule is?)

To bryan01: Solid rocket engines work in space and they are pretty much gun powder, some glue to hold it all together and something to keep it from burning all at once, otherwise all you'd have is a big grenade!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Mike,

Slide-rule: The commonly held courtesy dictating that if you were the lucky one that had the PB & J sandwich packed in wax paper, and used said paper to wax the slippery slide, you got the first, unblemished "Wheeeeeeeeeeee!" down the slide before everyone else.

Leastwise, that's the way I remember it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

The great thing about shooting in space, is that we finally get to put to rest the whole 30-06 vs 270 debate...they both shoot flat in space!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Should of said, "solid fuel rocket engines".

Some space brain teasers,(that's what my brain is mostly made of, space):p

1) If a gun goes off in space and you're on a space walk( maybe they should call it a "space float instead, never seen them walking up there) and you're say 200 yards away and assuming you could take your space helmet off momentarily to uncover your ears, without your head exploding from zero air pressure, would you hear it go off? I say no, because there is no air to transmit the sound in waves. Maybe if you were really close the expanding gases leaving the barrel would create a blast front that you might hear, but it would peter out pretty quickly up there.

2) If the gun went off in the space station and blew out a window, would everybody get sucked out like Goldfinger in the 007 movie? Of course it wouldn't matter anyway, without a pressurized space suit you wouldn't be around very long to worry about it!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

By golly, there ARE some rocket scientists on this here blog! Ha- yuk.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

To oryx, I think I was like the last kid to bring my PB&J sandwiches to school wrapped in wax paper. My mom wasn't too hip when it came to things like Handiwrap! Now, many, many moons later, I use almost as much waxpaper as I do plastic wrap! Sometimes the old stuff is still better than the new stuff. Case in point. I saw a program a while back on PBS where some audiofile groupies were determined to build the ultimate sound system. They spent around $100,000, if I remember correctly, filled a whole wall in a den 5ft. high with audio equipment. Know what they used for the recording media? It wasn't digital, it was 33RPM vinyl records!! They could hear sounds that were lost in digital.

Also, the 30-06 vs 270 debate doesn't go away in space!! The 270 being faster than the '06 is going to reach a higher orbit, so some things never change in space.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Without the 15 lbs per square inch atmosphere (as in sea level) to push on and re-enforces the chamber, barrel and nose of the round, the resulting explosion from the powder ignition would be that much greater (15lbs per square inch greater) in space than on sea level. Would that be enough to rupture the chamber metal (15 lbs per sq inch ain't nothing x total sq inches in the chamber and barrel), or would the ignition still be contained? if the pressure on the nose of the round (bullet) was 15 lbs less (assuming the chamber held and it didn't blow up, and the bullet left the barrel that much faster as there is no negative pressure to hold it), would the powder have time to properly all ignite before the bullet left the muzzle? Or would it just fizzle? Would it be like a combustion engine with out the upstroke to TDC to encourage ignition.

Conversely; as a firearm needs no oxygen, and you carried a gun to the bottom of the ocean (and had water proof bullets) and fired, would nothing happen? Water pressure > the gas pressure from the explosion. Would the bullet implode into the cartridge? Or would it explode as the gun ascended the water column? Or just fizzle as the water pressure slowly released.

Would a heavier 30-06 phaser have more energy in space and therefore carry longer than a 270 phaser as it bumped into the random atoms, transporter beams and what not, Does the atoms of space deflect a bullet? If a shot was fired in an astroid field and there was no one there, would your know it?

Now I am going to have to lay away worrying another night. Last night it was the Oscars and why Aliens and Cowboys wasn't nominated.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Of course, you couldn't have untrained dog with you, because he'd think you shot something, go after it and then you'd have to wait till he ran around the universe before he got back. That would be a pain.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Let's get Roger and the Redneck Rocket Scientist from Huntsville do an experiment to figure this out. They could practice a quail hunt in outer space with the Dog Star Sirius or a bow hunt with Sagitarius or go nuclear fishin with Aquarius under the spreading Chemis-trees.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

What is wrong with this scenario?

I'll tyell you. Only an idiot goes anywhere with only one bullet! Good night this is outer space where everything is weightless -- we could have 10,000 rounds and not feel the difference! Why would anybody dream up a one gun, one bullet scenario? Sheesh.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

What is wrong with this scenario?

I'll tyell you. Only an idiot goes anywhere with only one bullet! Good night this is outer space where everything is weightless -- we could have 10,000 rounds and not feel the difference! Why would anybody dream up a one gun, one bullet scenario? Sheesh.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

"tyell": Noun. Mdrn Eng. First occurance 2012. Def.: to partially tell and partially yell at the same time.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Does anyone out their know how to field dress an alien?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WyoTom wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

What if you shot a bow and arrow?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

My head hurts after reading this article. lol

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from IND_NRA wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I think that the lot of us could crack cold fusion in a day if we keep this "thread" going, no pun intened to any physicist out there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from walt in wi wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wow-the places our minds drift to in winter when the ice fishing is slow and few hunting seasons are available...Anyone believe in that Seasonal Affective Disorder(or whatever it is called) from too little sunshine and exercise??

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fox4 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Had the same question on a physics test - shooting a gun while wearing roller skates. Answer is: equal and opposite reaction. You go backwards at a slower rate because you have more mass than the bullet. Gravity is not the defining factor the ratio between you and the bullet makes the difference. Reality is still the same why would some fool shoot a firearm on roller skates or in outer space - unless you want to get messed up bad.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Phil, you either have too much time on your hands or else a bad case of cabin fever. Thanks for the thought provoking diversion from the February Funk.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Fox4---What in the world is a gun doing on rollerskates?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Speaking of space, bullets, velocity and impact, check this out!

www.csicop.org/si/show/on_problems_with_near-light-speed_travel

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nc30-06 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

One benefit if it were done would be that you would not need hearing protection or a silencer as sound is not transmitted in a vacuum. Also the bullets would contain a small amount of oxygen. Possibly, if they were out there long enough, the oxygen would bleed out of the shell, making me wonder if you would get a misfire or a bullet lodged in the barrel because of an incomplete powder burn.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from argoman wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

firing a bullet in space could mean the end of the world, because if it were to hit a "Green" planet, the aliens there could trace it back to us and vaporize earth for polluting their "space". I think we better check with someone first..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

For all practical purposes a round of ammo is a sealed unit, and when chambered and fired seals it's self to the barrel's chamber in the rear, and the bullet effectively seals the front of the barrel until it exits. There is no atmospheric oxygen required for function.

I assume you would get a tad higher velocity as there is no air for the bullet to push out the front of the barrel ahead of it's self so it would have slightly less resistance.

Guns DO fire under water, o I see no reason they won't function in a vacuum just as well.

I do question the "the universe is expanding faster than the bullet can catch up with any serious amount of mass" statement tho.
If the universe is expanding, then it must be moving from one point or another outwards, iof it is then if you shot in the direction of expansion then yes it could go forever, or at least until it reaches the edge of the universe.
But, if it were fired towards wherever the universe is expanding from, it should be meeting much greater resistance and eventually be stopped, as it's bucking an intergalactic headwind of sorts, right?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from firedog11 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Over the years reading quite a bit of SciFi there have been many stories involving firearms with some rather interesting takes on the results.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wow you can tell hunting season is over. HA. Even Dave is talking about cheap stuff, we're all in outer space.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wow you can tell hunting season is over. HA. Even Dave is talking about cheap stuff, we're all in outer space.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tunadave wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I think all you guys need to use your Hoppes #9 or Shooter's Choice in better ventilated areas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

in "Armageddon" William Fichtner points a gun at Bruce Willis and Will Patton says "what the hell are you doing with a gun in space?" I think that's as far as we've gone as a species in terms of "shifting" attitudes towards guns. In previous centuries, if you ventured into the "unknown" (which space is), you brought a gun or another weapon, because you don't know what you'll encounter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from plinkster wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I wonder what a caveman would do with a atlatle

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

The great thing about shooting in space, is that we finally get to put to rest the whole 30-06 vs 270 debate...they both shoot flat in space!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

If you have the need to shoot a gun while in space, I have a feeling whatever you are shooting at is going to vaporize you and the ship you rode in on.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Mike,

Slide-rule: The commonly held courtesy dictating that if you were the lucky one that had the PB & J sandwich packed in wax paper, and used said paper to wax the slippery slide, you got the first, unblemished "Wheeeeeeeeeeee!" down the slide before everyone else.

Leastwise, that's the way I remember it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

By golly, there ARE some rocket scientists on this here blog! Ha- yuk.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Without the 15 lbs per square inch atmosphere (as in sea level) to push on and re-enforces the chamber, barrel and nose of the round, the resulting explosion from the powder ignition would be that much greater (15lbs per square inch greater) in space than on sea level. Would that be enough to rupture the chamber metal (15 lbs per sq inch ain't nothing x total sq inches in the chamber and barrel), or would the ignition still be contained? if the pressure on the nose of the round (bullet) was 15 lbs less (assuming the chamber held and it didn't blow up, and the bullet left the barrel that much faster as there is no negative pressure to hold it), would the powder have time to properly all ignite before the bullet left the muzzle? Or would it just fizzle? Would it be like a combustion engine with out the upstroke to TDC to encourage ignition.

Conversely; as a firearm needs no oxygen, and you carried a gun to the bottom of the ocean (and had water proof bullets) and fired, would nothing happen? Water pressure > the gas pressure from the explosion. Would the bullet implode into the cartridge? Or would it explode as the gun ascended the water column? Or just fizzle as the water pressure slowly released.

Would a heavier 30-06 phaser have more energy in space and therefore carry longer than a 270 phaser as it bumped into the random atoms, transporter beams and what not, Does the atoms of space deflect a bullet? If a shot was fired in an astroid field and there was no one there, would your know it?

Now I am going to have to lay away worrying another night. Last night it was the Oscars and why Aliens and Cowboys wasn't nominated.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Of course, you couldn't have untrained dog with you, because he'd think you shot something, go after it and then you'd have to wait till he ran around the universe before he got back. That would be a pain.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Let's get Roger and the Redneck Rocket Scientist from Huntsville do an experiment to figure this out. They could practice a quail hunt in outer space with the Dog Star Sirius or a bow hunt with Sagitarius or go nuclear fishin with Aquarius under the spreading Chemis-trees.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Does anyone out their know how to field dress an alien?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WyoTom wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

What if you shot a bow and arrow?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Theoretical physics is a piece of cake...I predicted all these things in 4th grade, using only the 1972 October Solunar tables and a 15-inch length of licorice whip (red).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mibasshunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

ok, is it me or are paragraphs 5,6, and 7 the same as paragraphs 8,9, and 10?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

"Fires can't burn in the oxygen-free vacuum of space, but guns can shoot. Modern ammunition contains its own oxidizer, a chemical that will trigger the explosion of gunpowder, and thus the firing of a bullet, wherever you are in the universe. No atmospheric oxygen required."

Bryan01, from the article above.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Bryan01

See paragraph 5 above, it is a true statement.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IND_NRA wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

In terms of matter in space- we have to take into account that there is also anti matter and these energy would repell true matter and thus be destroyed, but this is still one of the great unsolved problems of physics. Just throwing stones at a glass house. Tkae care y'all.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Come to the Dark Side, Phil. It's your Destiny.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

If one shoots himself in the back with a gun, wouldn't he have to use boomerang bullets??

To oryx: Betcha cheated and used a slide-rule for your astronomical ciphering, now we know you're not as sharp as a whip(as in licorice) as you thought you were. (probably some young dudes on here that don't even know what a slide-rule is?)

To bryan01: Solid rocket engines work in space and they are pretty much gun powder, some glue to hold it all together and something to keep it from burning all at once, otherwise all you'd have is a big grenade!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

To oryx, I think I was like the last kid to bring my PB&J sandwiches to school wrapped in wax paper. My mom wasn't too hip when it came to things like Handiwrap! Now, many, many moons later, I use almost as much waxpaper as I do plastic wrap! Sometimes the old stuff is still better than the new stuff. Case in point. I saw a program a while back on PBS where some audiofile groupies were determined to build the ultimate sound system. They spent around $100,000, if I remember correctly, filled a whole wall in a den 5ft. high with audio equipment. Know what they used for the recording media? It wasn't digital, it was 33RPM vinyl records!! They could hear sounds that were lost in digital.

Also, the 30-06 vs 270 debate doesn't go away in space!! The 270 being faster than the '06 is going to reach a higher orbit, so some things never change in space.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

What is wrong with this scenario?

I'll tyell you. Only an idiot goes anywhere with only one bullet! Good night this is outer space where everything is weightless -- we could have 10,000 rounds and not feel the difference! Why would anybody dream up a one gun, one bullet scenario? Sheesh.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

"tyell": Noun. Mdrn Eng. First occurance 2012. Def.: to partially tell and partially yell at the same time.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IND_NRA wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I think that the lot of us could crack cold fusion in a day if we keep this "thread" going, no pun intened to any physicist out there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fox4 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Had the same question on a physics test - shooting a gun while wearing roller skates. Answer is: equal and opposite reaction. You go backwards at a slower rate because you have more mass than the bullet. Gravity is not the defining factor the ratio between you and the bullet makes the difference. Reality is still the same why would some fool shoot a firearm on roller skates or in outer space - unless you want to get messed up bad.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Phil, you either have too much time on your hands or else a bad case of cabin fever. Thanks for the thought provoking diversion from the February Funk.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tunadave wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I think all you guys need to use your Hoppes #9 or Shooter's Choice in better ventilated areas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deerhunterrick wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Last time I was in outer space was Aug 18th 1969, haven't gone back since

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wildartstech wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

You'd fly almost as fast in the other direction of the bullet unless you were tethered to something which is generally speaking a bad idea, unless you're in a tree stand. Of course if you made it to space and the first thing you thought to do was get up in a tree stand and let one rip... then I guess the universe is a better place already.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from alwaysWRIGHT wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

wow, I thought for sure you would need oxygen to fire a gun in space, thats awesome hooray for modern firearms!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Should of said, "solid fuel rocket engines".

Some space brain teasers,(that's what my brain is mostly made of, space):p

1) If a gun goes off in space and you're on a space walk( maybe they should call it a "space float instead, never seen them walking up there) and you're say 200 yards away and assuming you could take your space helmet off momentarily to uncover your ears, without your head exploding from zero air pressure, would you hear it go off? I say no, because there is no air to transmit the sound in waves. Maybe if you were really close the expanding gases leaving the barrel would create a blast front that you might hear, but it would peter out pretty quickly up there.

2) If the gun went off in the space station and blew out a window, would everybody get sucked out like Goldfinger in the 007 movie? Of course it wouldn't matter anyway, without a pressurized space suit you wouldn't be around very long to worry about it!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

What is wrong with this scenario?

I'll tyell you. Only an idiot goes anywhere with only one bullet! Good night this is outer space where everything is weightless -- we could have 10,000 rounds and not feel the difference! Why would anybody dream up a one gun, one bullet scenario? Sheesh.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

My head hurts after reading this article. lol

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from walt in wi wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wow-the places our minds drift to in winter when the ice fishing is slow and few hunting seasons are available...Anyone believe in that Seasonal Affective Disorder(or whatever it is called) from too little sunshine and exercise??

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Fox4---What in the world is a gun doing on rollerskates?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Speaking of space, bullets, velocity and impact, check this out!

www.csicop.org/si/show/on_problems_with_near-light-speed_travel

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nc30-06 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

One benefit if it were done would be that you would not need hearing protection or a silencer as sound is not transmitted in a vacuum. Also the bullets would contain a small amount of oxygen. Possibly, if they were out there long enough, the oxygen would bleed out of the shell, making me wonder if you would get a misfire or a bullet lodged in the barrel because of an incomplete powder burn.

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from argoman wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

firing a bullet in space could mean the end of the world, because if it were to hit a "Green" planet, the aliens there could trace it back to us and vaporize earth for polluting their "space". I think we better check with someone first..

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from Zermoid wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

For all practical purposes a round of ammo is a sealed unit, and when chambered and fired seals it's self to the barrel's chamber in the rear, and the bullet effectively seals the front of the barrel until it exits. There is no atmospheric oxygen required for function.

I assume you would get a tad higher velocity as there is no air for the bullet to push out the front of the barrel ahead of it's self so it would have slightly less resistance.

Guns DO fire under water, o I see no reason they won't function in a vacuum just as well.

I do question the "the universe is expanding faster than the bullet can catch up with any serious amount of mass" statement tho.
If the universe is expanding, then it must be moving from one point or another outwards, iof it is then if you shot in the direction of expansion then yes it could go forever, or at least until it reaches the edge of the universe.
But, if it were fired towards wherever the universe is expanding from, it should be meeting much greater resistance and eventually be stopped, as it's bucking an intergalactic headwind of sorts, right?

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from firedog11 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Over the years reading quite a bit of SciFi there have been many stories involving firearms with some rather interesting takes on the results.

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from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wow you can tell hunting season is over. HA. Even Dave is talking about cheap stuff, we're all in outer space.

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from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wow you can tell hunting season is over. HA. Even Dave is talking about cheap stuff, we're all in outer space.

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from O Garcia wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

in "Armageddon" William Fichtner points a gun at Bruce Willis and Will Patton says "what the hell are you doing with a gun in space?" I think that's as far as we've gone as a species in terms of "shifting" attitudes towards guns. In previous centuries, if you ventured into the "unknown" (which space is), you brought a gun or another weapon, because you don't know what you'll encounter.

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from plinkster wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I wonder what a caveman would do with a atlatle

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from Bryan01 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Ok, maybe it would work.

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from Bryan01 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

The gun would only work inside a space ship or suit that is pressurized and contains oxygen; Fire it in the vacuum of space and you get nothing - there is no oxygen to allow the gunpowder to burn.

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