ELI5: What actually happens to the human body when an explosion happens in close proximity?

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For conventional explosions heat doesn’t matter much. The main lethal factor for people are flying debris (wich is why anti-personnel bombs contain some extra) Aside from that the involved pressure hits verye harshly, depending on the size and distance of the explosion it can range from “topple you over and hit your head”, over “punch in the stomach that causes internal bleeding” to “your bodyparts are ripped apart”


The fire is just for the benefit of the movie. Movie explosives tend to include a lot of gasoline or other fuel to get that nice big fireball. With the exception of weapons that are designed to create fire, real-world war explosives don’t care about fire. When an explosive weapon goes off, it essentially releases a whole lot of energy at once. And this is weaponized in two main ways. There’s going to be a massive pressure differential as the explosive’s energy ‘pushes’ the surrounding air aside. This pressure wave is so powerful that it’ll pretty much rupture the soft parts of your body if you’re unfortunate enough to be in the blast radius. Even if your body manages to stay in one piece, it can just squish the soft bits like your organs. Most explosives are also designed to produce shrapnel. Shards of the bomb’s casing, objects like nails that were packed in with the bomb. A hand grenade has that pineapple pattern just to create more surface are and thus more shrapnel when it explodes. Shrapnel goes flying in every direction pushed by that pressure wave, that energy release when the bomb goes off. And it will shred anything nearby. It will cut through bodies, sever limbs, go straight through light materials like car paneling. And of course, since bombs are weapons, most are designed to achieve specific things. Some landmines are spring-loaded so they jump up to chest height before exploding. Vehicle mines are often shaped in such a way that they guide most of the explosive force upwards into the vehicle above instead of exploding equally in all directions. Anti armor munitions often have staged explosions to help them penetrate armor before doing something nasty to the crew inside a tank. Thermobaric bombs are designed to create a long-lasting explosion that uses up all of the oxygen in an area, rupturing the lungs of anyone unfortunate to be in the very large blast area. It’s perfect for clearing out caves and tunnels where direct shrapnel wouldn’t hit people. But the basic idea is that explosives produce a devastating pressure differential compounded by shrapnel.


i can think of two things that happen: you get burned very hard and you get ripped apart by the pressure if a bomb hits you directly if the bomb explodes near you there are little things flying arround with a high speed that can also hurt you (think of bullets) and depending on the bomb and your distance to it the sudden pressure can make you loose balance if you are near an exploding nuke you body just evaporates due to the heat


Imagine if someone punched you. The force used would damage your muscles, and you would get bruises, as capillaries break. If Mike Tyson punched you, the damage would be greater, perhaps breaking bones and damaging internal organs. ​ When the shock wave from an explosion hits someone, the force of the explosion is transferred into their body in a similar way to a punch, but is not so direct. It causes the same kinds of effects to the muscles, bones and organs. ​ Explosives that are designed to damage through this shock wave are generally refered to as concussion explosives, and used to be used commonly in grenades, for use in confined spaces. ​ Other explosives are used in similar ways, but are packed in containers that split apart and throw bits (called shrapnel) around at a very high speed. This shrapnel goes through the skin, and leads to bleeding.


As another comment mentioned, shrapnel is the number one problem regarding lethality when it comes to explosions. However, the second is the pressure wave. You know when you are at a concert or a fireworks show and you can feel the air waves hitting your chest? Explosions do that same thing to but can range anything from “knock you on your ass” to “your lungs literally burst inside your chest cavity.”