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Conservation of Momentum in One Dimension

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Body Armor
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Body Armor

Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Marton Anton Edgil
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2ID_Recon_Baghdad.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The men pictured above are wearing standard armor used by the 75th Ranger Regiment between 1990 and 2000. Weighing approximately ten pounds, this armor was developed to provide protection for up to ballistic threat level IIIA.

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Credit: Johnny Shumate
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ancient_Greece_hoplite_with_his_hoplon_and_dory.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

An ancient Hoplight warrior equipped with his weapon and body armor [Figure2]

  • Throughout history, countless variations of body armor have been developed. From as early as the Roman Empire, armies have used many forms of protective clothing to prevent injury on the battlefield. 
  • While there are many variations, they all can be broken down into two types: soft or hard body armor. Soft body armor is traditionally used when the threat is standard bullets or knives, while hard armor is for high risk scenarios experienced by tactical units or soldiers. 
  • However, both types of armor are traditionally made up of two sections: soft inner panels and the outer shell. The outer section is key to upholding the armor's protection as it houses the inner protective plates.
  • The soft inner panels are traditionally made from a lightweight, durable polymer such as Kevlar. The polymer's main purpose in armor is to absorb as much kinetic energy and momentum during impact as possible. Kevlar body armor is patented with a specific form of weaving the polymer, and can stop balliztics that most other materials cannot.
  • Learn more about how body armor works: http://science.howstuffworks.com/body-armor.htm

Explore More

Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.

  1. Is blunt force trauma a result of the kinetic energy of the bullet or a result of the momentum?
  2. Why would the best armor have the most mass?
  3. Why must armor be lightweight in order to be effective?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Marton Anton Edgil; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2ID_Recon_Baghdad.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Johnny Shumate; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ancient_Greece_hoplite_with_his_hoplon_and_dory.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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