Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Colliding Bullets

I remember being "wowed" as a kid when I saw a picture in National Geographic of what was described as two bullets which had collided and by that means welded themselves together over a Civil War battlefield.

I couldn't find the National Geographic photo again, but I found this photo of one for sale...

I remember being a little suspicious when I read that some stores had dozens of such collided bullets for sale.

And I became very, very suspicious when I discovered that some stores had groups of 3 bullets welded together via a collision. 3 bullets! Think of the odds!

But then, while I was watching Turner Pictures' movie Gettysburg, I saw the Kevin Conway character tell the Jeff Daniels character that some soldiers get so excited that they will load their rifles 5 or 6 times without firing a shot.

That, it occurred to me, might be the answer for many of the souvenirs, especially the triple "collision" bullets. A soldier rams in a bullet. It misfires, but he doesn't realize it. He rams in a second bullet on top of the first, and fires. Bullet Number 1 slams into Bullet Number 2, in the barrel. They go out together, they hit a solid object, spread, and weld. Occasionally, such doubles were met head-on by an enemy bullet, forming what looks like an impossible triple collision, but what is really only a double.

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