How would this kill him?

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I need help writing part of a screenplay I'm working on, physics-wise. In ACT 1 the main character's father is killed during a hoverbike race.

Here are the contributing factors, if any or all of them would contribute to his death:

-He's travelling at about 350 km/h (219 mph).

-He's 62 years old, weighs about 195 lbs, fairly muscular build for his age.

-His racing suit consists of body armor an inch thick (on his chest and legs).

-His bike explodes while he's still on it.

How would these factors kill him?

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How does the hoverbike work, is it suspended on an air cushion or do you have some sort of maglev action going on? Could someone have tampered with the bike's magnetic field so it ended up crushing him like a deep sea diver whose air fails? Most of his body would end up in his helmet.

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The only thing on there that prevents "sitting on a vehicle traveling at over 200 mph when it explodes" from being a self-explanatory cause of death is the body armor.

However, that means I have to ask how the armor works. First, an inch of what? Second, how do the joints work? Because the thickness is going to cause some mobility issues that are mostly easily rectified by design choices that would probably leave the joints vulnerable.

Basically, there is a different between a suit that renders the wearer immobile while surrounded at all points by an inch of steel, and a suit with an inch of foam padding with large gaps at the joints.

Though, really, if the armor only covers his chest and legs and not his head, we're back into the realm of "how would those factors not kill him?"

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Body armor is not going to save him from the effects of an impact at 200 mph. Race car drivers wear a suit of body armor, too. The car. That armor even crumples on impact, absorbing some of the impact and increasing the time of interaction, so it reduces the acceleration, and drivers still die. A metal suit will save you from road rash injuries on a hoverbike, if you fell off and skidded. It won't save you from rapid deceleration impact injuries, like hitting a wall. No great mystery here, IMO.

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The very high deceleration (in popular language: how many G's you get) upon impact with some obstacle is gonna be the killer. Thick armor is not gonna make that impact any less. A pillow could possibly work better actually.

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I must have misunderstood the question. I didn't see where there was an impact before the explosion. I assumed the bike exploded first, since that's all we were told. Certainly, if he survived the explosion, body armor (especially armor protecting only his legs and chest) wouldn't do anything to help him survive the deceleration.

Why would a bike racer only protect his chest and legs? Your speeds allow us to assume the race is on a pretty flat, fairly straight surface. Even if we assume he wears a helmet, if the armor is supposed to help him survive a slide if he falls off the bike, aren't the back and arms extremely vulnerable in that situation?

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Actually, I meant to say that the bike does explode at first.

These hoverbikes aren't air cushion vehicles their magnetically levitated, 2 feet above the ground maximum.

His armor is an inch of steel (How heavy is steel by the way?).

What if the explosion occurs from the bike's dashboard, right into his face?

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As others have said, any kind of armor that provides a rigid shell might protect against the rider skidding along the ground or having small projectiles fired at him, but for the force of rapid deceleration or explosion it's worthless since it does nothing to reduce acceleration at a rate his body can withstand.

Your skull protects your brain from blows, but if you run headfirst into a brick wall, even if your skull doesn't crack, your brain is going to slosh against the skull pretty hard. That's why helmets are designed the way they are. You'd be better off protecting the body that way instead of any amount of rigid, thick steel.

It might make a dramatic image if the bike explosion was engineered in such a way that the force of it exactly negated the forward acceleration (as you say, emanating from the dashboard straight backwards at him), dropping his crushed body straight down to the road.

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I just thought of something. What if I just say that the trauma to his head from the blast was enough to kill him? I saw something similar on Mythbusters with regards to the lungs during the dynamite surfing myth.

Edited by TransformerRobot
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There's nothing magical about this being a hoverbike in terms of this problem. If you want the person to die, just conceptually substitute a regular motorcycle. How do motorcycle drivers die? An explosion could render the driver unconscious, he loses control and has a horrific collision. The explosion could simply destabilize the bike, he loses control and has a horrific collision. If it's a movie, go with the stock stunt of the explosion that catapults the driver into the air, somersaults a few times and he has a horrific collision (possibly just with the ground).

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Then I'll go with the blast sending him into the air and violently onto the ground.

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I was thinking — you could also have the bike land on him, for good measure, before the bike automatically rights itself and hovers, wobbling.

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Yeah, that makes more sense.

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Have it land on his back, where the idiot forgot to wear any armor.

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- He's travelling at about 350 km/h (219 mph).

-He's 62 years old, weighs about 195 lbs,

How would these factors kill him?

Heart attack. Too old for such excitement..

Edited by Przemyslaw.Gruchala
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Nah, that would only work if he's old, and fat.

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Is it supposed to be a total accident, ignoring how on earth his crew let him ride a bike that was about to explode, or was his bike tampered with to make it explode? Or did this experienced racer just push his bike too far? Are we supposed to be sad that he dies or just shrug it off to incompetence? Since it's the main character's father, how does the manner of his death affect the story?

Btw, old slim people have heart attacks, too.

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It's sabotage. It's rigged to explode, and the sabotour did it undetected. We're supposed to be horrified that he died, and his death is what kicks off the conflict between the protagonist and antagoist.

Anybody here know how to measure the strength of an explosion?

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F1 drivers have bottles with water, which they can drink any time from straw.

How about sabotaging water with some poison.

He is starting shaking, loosing conscience and thus crashing and exploding.

Autopsy is confirming he has been poisoned.

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Or maybe something in the bike is rigged to purposely malfunction and electrocute him to death?

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It's sabotage. It's rigged to explode, and the sabotour did it undetected. We're supposed to be horrified that he died, and his death is what kicks off the conflict between the protagonist and antagoist.

Did the saboteur want to remain undetected even after the "accident"? If so, an explosion on a maglev bike seems suspicious. What's the power source? What could explode?

Perhaps whatever holds him on the bike could malfunction, like a rigged safety harness. If his belt opens on a turn and his center of gravity pulls the bike over too far, physics takes over and he corkscrews into the ground at 200+mph.

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No, the sabotour meant it to look like an accident.

Nothing holds him on the bike. Other than the magnetic levitation the bikes are built like motorcycles.

As for the power source, I was thinking maybe a methane-based fuel made from feces (obviously they'll still have lots in the future).

Or...

If manufacturers have enough interest in such propulsion then we'd see a lot more of them in the distant future.

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Whiplash?

Head sheared off between ground and the edge of the armour?

The sad truth is that there are lots of ways to die.

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Anyway, nobody answered my other question a few messages ago: How does one measure the strength of explosions?

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Anyway, nobody answered my other question a few messages ago: How does one measure the strength of explosions?

As I understand it, your question is too broad to give you a meaningful answer. All explosions are not alike. Some are more sound and light, others throw shrapnel about, still others are more designed for concussive force.

You've already got a LOT of energy involved in the speed your rider is at. Any explosion aimed back at the rider is going to be like hitting a wall as far as his internal organs are concerned (especially with that rigid armor, which I think is a mistake). You don't need him in bits and pieces to kill him from sudden deceleration. A charge big enough to instantly cut his speed in half is going to be like a sledge hammer on each of his internal organs.

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