COMPUTERS, NOT CRASHES: At the National Crash Analysis Center at George Washington University one of the primary focuses is on simulation and advanced computing research. They have been conducting automobile crash tests with computer models. Crash tests are expensive and though useful, do not provide a comprehensive picture. Using a computer model allows for more tests and maximizes research dollars.
ABOUT COMPUTER MODELING: Computer modeling is used to simulate the structure and appearance of both static objects, such as building architecture, and dynamic situations, such as a football game. Computer models can enable the user to test the consequences of choices and decisions. They can provide cutaway views that let you see aspects of an object that would be invisible in the real artifact, as well as visualization tools that can provide many different perspectives. Physical models that reproduce behavior are limited by the physics of the world, while computer models have much looser bounds. Computer models enable you to run companies and civilizations, fight battles, play football games and evolve new species.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A CRASH? The laws of physics say that an object in motion will stay in motion, with the same speed and direction, unless it is acted upon by an outside force. So if you are traveling at 60 MPH and your car hits a solid wall and comes to an immediate stop, your body will continue going at 60 MPH until it is stopped by, say, a seatbelt, airbag, or, at worst, a windshield. If the car has a rigid body, the rapid deceleration caused by the impact will produce injuries and fatalities. Because the stopping time is only a split second, the force on the passengers is very high.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.