Science: Softness for Safety

At Philadelphia's Franklin Institute last week a dummy named Oscar was catapulted headfirst against an automobile windshield. The pane cracked and some crumbs of glass fell outside the car. But when Oscar's head hit it, the pane bulged outward two or three inches. If the dummy had been a real person involved in a motor crash, this elastic yield of the glass might have saved him a skull fracture.

A nine-ounce steel ball was dropped on a pane of the same glass from a height of 28 feet. The glass bulged and cracked but did not break. A young woman stood behind...

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