So a tiny object and a huge object that have the same mass and velocity strike a surface. Because they have the same mass and velocity, they would have the same momentum and will deliver the same amount of force upon impact. I would intuitively expect that the tiny object would do far more damage than the large object, so I'm guessing damage is determined by pressure (which is partly determined by force and therefor is connected to momentum i.e. increase the momentum in an object, increase the pressure it exerts, assuming it covers the same area).

I'm not 100% confident that I'm correct though, partly because I always hear people talk about impact in the context of force and momentum (the force * the period time it is exerted over) alone, not taking the area that the force is exerted over into account. Is this just them making assumptions that an object with a high mas will be very large or does the area not matter as much as I think it does?


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Oh, the damage from impact does depend on pressure. Try hitting a flat table and a sharp nail with the same force, and see which causes more damage.

As far as I know, this occurs because the more pressure exerted on a surface, the more stress it experiences, thus causing a larger strain. If the stress experienced is large enough, it may even cause fracture.

  • $\begingroup$ So the whole thing about people talking about the damage of impacts/explosions and such in terms of force but not pressure is kind of presumptive? It just seems silly to me that people would talk about 1,000,000 lbs of force like it's some huge deal when, depending on the area of contact, that could just leave a slight dent. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Jun 11, 2019 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ Generally, when we talk of damage to something, its surface area is a constant, while the force that can be applied to it can vary. Hence, we talk only about damage due to force. $\endgroup$
    – Ishan Deo
    Jun 11, 2019 at 6:41

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