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The Physics of Karate

A human hand has the power to split wooden planks and demolish concrete blocks. A trio of physicists investigated why this feat doesn’t shatter our bones. In the late 1970s, a team of karate-loving physicists decided to perform an experiment inspired by their collective passion for martial arts. The group was made up of physicist Michael Feld, a brown belt who liked to illustrate the physics of karate via ; Ronald McNair, ; and undergraduate Stephen Wilk. How can a bare hand demolish a solid block of wood or concrete without injury? What’s the trick? As it turns out, there’s no trick—the perfect karate strike is nothing more than a precise application of Newton’s laws.........Read more

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