Navy Video Strangeness

OK, you’ve got my interest piqued.

What is LiveScience doing posting this video? (The same one as posted from YouTube below.)

I agree with the comments on I Need Gun. That Live Science vid looks totally dodgy and almost certainly not output by the US Navy. Anything the Navy puts out is going to be well polished, like this:

This looks more authentic to me – no backyard, no dirty, scored gun, no dudes in trainers and sweatshirts. OK, they’re wearing t-shirts, but they’ve got a clipboards, safety glasses, and a big hangar full of massive arrays of mag-coils. Kind of important for a magnetic rail gun.

As for the projectile burning as it penetrates the target, this is probably simply due to the release of kinetic energy on impact. If you’ve got a metal slug travelling at mach 7 hitting just about anything, it’ll release a hell of a lot of heat. Try clapping your hands; they get warm. Clap your hands together at mach 7, they catch fire.

Another possibility is that they’re using depleted uranium for the penetrator slug:

depleted uranium is favored for the penetrator because it is self-sharpening and pyrophoric. On impact with a hard target, such as an armoured vehicle, the nose of the rod fractures in such a way that it remains sharp. The impact and subsequent release of heat energy causes it to disintegrate to dust and burn when it reaches air because of its pyrophoric properties (compare to ferrocerium). When a DU penetrator reaches the interior of an armored vehicle, it catches fire, often igniting ammunition and fuel, killing the crew, and possibly causing the vehicle to explode.

OK, it’s unlikely that they’d use DU for a tester where people are going to be walking around right after the shot, as there’d be lots of fine uranium dust about. But I’m not a materials scientist – other metals might do the same, and the principle of heat release through impact stands.

Have we just caught Live Science making a beeg mistaeke? (anyway, they’d been scooped by our creepy bald dude from the discovery channel!)