Stu K of the animated series Debunked quite succinctly explains how bullets from guns fired into the air can pose a very real danger when they eventually land.
Join us as we explore the physics behind ‘What goes up must come down!
The animation shows the physics behind a falling bullet, noting that the position of the gun, the angle at which the gun is fired, the present atmospheric pressure, and the terminal velocity of the bullet all come into play in determining how deadly a falling bullet can be.
When gravity and air resistance balance out, the bullet will hit its terminal velocity, meaning it will no longer go any faster. The question is, are bullets falling at this speed still dangerous? Well, the terminal velocity of a falling bullet will obviously vary depending on the type of bullet, but, generally-speaking – yes, very much so.
Stu also offers a better, safer suggestion for celebrations.
As you can see, celebratory gunfire is not particularly uncommon, and the risk that it poses is very real indeed. So the next time your football team wins, or you’re just jazzed about it being New Years, it might be a good idea not to randomly pump the sky full of lead. Stick to confetti cannons instead.