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Beth Stackpole
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Piranha-proof protection
Beth Stackpole   3/8/2012 7:04:36 AM
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Looks like some very interesting potential for composites use for heavy duty applications. I'm curious as to how the piranha-proof material holds up to things like bombs or bullets--more likely scenarios for when body armor is used than to protect against sharp teeth or knives.

What I really would like is to be a fly on the wall of the testing facility when they some day put the manmade composite material to the test using live piranhas instead of just their teeth. It could get ugly!

David12345
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
David12345   3/8/2012 8:57:08 AM
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Much soft body armor is good against softer bullets like lead from a handgun, but not so good against jacketed bullets, high-speed rifle bullets, teflon coated bullets, sharp fragment shrapnel, skinny pointed knives, and ice picks.

It sounds like this research of nature could indicate a refinement of the "ceramic scale type body armor" that could do better against these types of hazards. Cool.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
Dave Palmer   3/8/2012 11:44:07 AM
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Dr. Meyer's group has been doing all kinds of fascinating work on the mechanics of natural materials for the past several years.  Dr. Meyers is known for an excellent textbook which he co-wrote with Dr. Krishan Chawla called Mechanical Behavior of Materials (originally titled Mechanical Metallurgy).  Both he and Dr. Chawla are giants in the materials field.  Dr. Chawla is known for his work on composites, especially ceramic-matrix composites.

It wasn't immediately obvious to me just how big this fish is (300 pounds), or how big its scales are (4 - 6 inches in diameter).  Not exactly your average fish!

Understanding how nature arranges hard and soft materials to create tough structures can provide insights which can have applications in all sorts of fields, not just body armor.  

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
Alexander Wolfe   3/8/2012 1:55:57 PM
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David12345, I was watching a rerun last night of "Doomsday Preppers," where they were shooting wood 2x4s at 500 mph at a couple of doors to see if they could be breached. An the 2x4 penetrated an 8,000-lb, FEMA-compliant door. I wonder how a scaled type solution might work instead? Also interesting are the ceramic tiles they use beneath the armor on an Abrams tank, so when the shell penetrates the first metal coating it hits, the impact is dissipated by the ceramics before it can cut thru the final layer of metal.

 

David12345
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
David12345   3/8/2012 2:23:19 PM
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What sort of doomsday were the "Doomsday Preppers" trying to prepare for?  Tornados of current F0 to F3 variety are talking winds of up to 206 miles per hour (mph) covers 99% of all tornados.  The F4 and F5 tornados are rare but with winds 207 to 318 mph. I don't believe F6 tornados (with winds 319 to 379 mph) have ever been documented thus far.

The 500 mph board would need to be above F6, or from a weapon (a 2x4 cannon?).  I would think scaled or rigid, the best defence would be layers of hard material separated by softer absorbing layers.  Various types of layering would need to be explored depending upon the projectile being protected against.  I understand some projectiles are very complex with splitting jeckets, secondary explosives, titanium darts, molten plasma being generated, etc. 

Alternatively, "active armor" layers like classified military counter-explosive armor would probably be the ticket, but I am not an expert on such things.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
Alexander Wolfe   3/8/2012 2:28:50 PM
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Well, I don't mean this in a bad way, but they're into somewhat unrealistic apocalyptic scenarios, like a total breakdown of government and social structure, failure of the worldwide economic system, and/or cataclysmic natural disasters. Basically, stuff that, no matter how much you prep, you're never prepped enough. (Or, when you emerge from your underground bunker, there's nothing left around you except radiation. Sorta like those "On The Beach" post-nuke novels of the late 1950s, earli 1960s.) Interesting show nevertheless; in spots though...watching it for long periods is a bit much. I can only take so many shots of food in Mason jars. Here's the link, but it crashed my browser: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/doomsday-preppers/

David12345
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
David12345   3/8/2012 2:45:28 PM
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Ohhh, I get it.  Like how do you build your storm shelter to withstand a direct hit from a nuclear bomb and what supplies to you need to protect yourself from radiation, chemicals, and biological weapons for generations. until it is safe to come out and rebuild the world.

Interesting stuff.  Sort of like the cold war concerns . . . updated. 

I had a brother in law that was formerly in the military to protect the troops from biological weapons.  His attitude was that, now as a civilian, if there was a major biological or chemical weapon like that released on the public he would not use plastic sheets or duct tape for his house.  He said he would walk outside and breathe deeply; so that, he would would expire quickly with a minimum of suffering.  His opinion was that a private person's counter-efforts would not save them, just have them die more slowly and painfully.  Morbid, but probably correct.

Sounds like the only solution is to keep the event from happening or be far enough away from the action . . . perhaps on a moon base?

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
Alexander Wolfe   3/8/2012 2:48:57 PM
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Re the moon base, notwithstanding the derision Newt Gingrich got for suggesting it, I would really like to see a return to manned space program. That was a seeder for a lot of technology as well as a lot of tech jobs. And it's intrinsically important stuff, to us engineers, anyway. As for the preppers stuff, yeah, you got it right.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
Ann R. Thryft   3/8/2012 3:26:46 PM
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Alex, Do you know if those FEMA-compliant doors were solid wood, or made from plywood by any chance? The reason I ask is because plywood was used as a metaphor for the way the collagen fibers are stacked in the fish scale architecture. I've also seen it used as a metaphor in other composite architectures I've written about.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Piranha-proof protection
Ann R. Thryft   3/8/2012 3:32:59 PM
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Thanks, Dave, for the author info and that book link. Meyers has indeed done several different biomimicry architecture projects. I ran across his work on abalone structure when I wrote the abalone-architecture story:

http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=238507

although that article wasn't focused on his work.


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