Bed of Nails


See link to video below
See link to video below

Lie down on a bed of nails and have someone smash a cinder block on your chest (really).




Yes – with some effort.

Principles Illustrated

Relationship between force and pressure, impulse and momentum.


Download video (right-click and “save link as”): Bedofnails.m4v

NCEA & Science Curriculum

SCI 1.1, PHYS 2.4


The late Sir Paul Callaghan climbs on to the bed of nails
The late Sir Paul Callaghan climbs
on to the bed of nails

Carefully lie down on the bed of nails, being sure to distribute your weight at each step. Pillow and foot supports are needed. The video shows how to climb on and off.


Climb on and off carefully and be sure to wear a safety mask if a cinder block will be smashed (see video). Cinder blocks break easily. You do not need to hit it very hard.

Individual teachers are responsible for safety in their own classes. Even familiar demonstrations should be practised and safety-checked by individual teachers before they are used in a classroom.

Related Resources

Teaching Resources

Would you like to contribute lesson suggestions? Contact us.


PIRA 1K30.10


This apparatus was borrowed from Murray Chishlom at Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt near Wellington

This teaching resource was developed with support from

The MacDiarmid Institute
Faculty of Science, Victoria University of Wellington
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington


Copyright and fair use statement