How fast would air have to move for the gas molecules to strip away at a person's body until nothing is left? I would prefer that actual formulas are used and that it takes less than a few seconds for all soft tissues to be gone.

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    $\begingroup$ Given that dropping a steak from orbit only ablates it slightly as per what-if.xkcd.com/28 it means that you are looking at speeds much, much greater than Earth escape velocity. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2021 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ Can the wind be hot (Crematoria from The Chronicles of Riddic)? Or full of sand (Dune sandstorms)? Or just air at STP? $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2021 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander good point - in fact, need more information on how/if the body is held. For example, if the spine is held securely in a multi km/s windstream then I would expect the limbs and head to be ripped off and tumble away relatively intact. If the aim is to abrade all the flesh away and leave a recognisable skeleton for a second or so longer then the entire skeleton would need to be secured in some manner. $\endgroup$ Jul 2, 2021 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ I've heard that F5 tornados take the hair off of cattle. Didn't find an authority for that, but hardwood trees get debarked with an F5. spc.noaa.gov/efscale/27.html $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Jul 2, 2021 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ Just normal air, no additional sand or particles. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2021 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


Without suspended particles like sand, no amount of wind will do this. It is far more likely that a person subjected to such winds would be lifted into the air, or, if secured to the ground, ripped apart.

Truth be told, even that is extremely unlikely; while we have records on how much force it takes to tear off a limb, for example, that is based on medieval torture devices in which a person's limb is secured to a device; the wind does not have a strong grip on a person. By far, the most likely outcomes are that the device holding the person to the ground is torn apart in large, intact chunks, or that the person simply remains in place, albeit flailing wildly.

A windstorm tearing off someone's flesh is a prime example of cartoon physics.


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