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Episode 11: Sinking Ships, Goldfish, 1812 Overture + Trombone

  • when a ship sinks, it will pull you down with it if you aren't far enough away: busted
  • goldfish only have a three second memory: busted
  • a complicated story involving the 1812 Overture, a trombone, and explosives: busted

This show was really interesting because it provided a lot of interesting background on Jamie. When they rattled these off, I felt very underaccomplished: * former pet store owner * Special Forces * ran a dive shop in the Caribbean * Whist champion * used to own a lion

1812 Overture

The sinking ship myth was the main myth for the episode, but I actually liked the trombone segment the best, so I'll talk about it first (other two are in the extended entry).

The myth was of the Rube Goldberg variety.

A trombone player decides to add some bang to the 1812 Overture and puts a firecracker in his trombone, which he intends to set off and use to launch his bell across the audience. Instead, the bell launches and hits the conductor in the chest, knocking him into the audience. The slide also flies off and does further damage.

Jamie went all-out on this one. After an initial attempt weakly blew the top of the bell into Buster, the immediately started going for more bang. meta watched in horror as the next trombone (possibly the one she sold to go to a typography conference) exploded in a huge cloud of smoke. Buster fell forward in a smoking heap. The slow-mo of the bell flying out of the trombone was beautiful.

This wasn't enough for Jamie and Adam as they wanted to replicate the portion of the myth where the conductor gets knocked backwards into the audience. They loaded in even more powder for one more try. Again, Buster didn't fly backwards, but the trombone was mostly scrap metal, and there was even more cool slow-mo explosions set to the 1812 Overture.

Sinking Ship Myth

The theory is that when a ship is sinking, you should get as far away from it as possible. Otherwise, like in the movie Titanic, it will pull you down with it. Many of the dock workers/boat people had heard this advice before (though probably haven't put it into practice).

Jamie and Adam broke the myth down into three popular theories: 1) the air escaping from the ship aerates the water and reduces the density, pull the person downward 2) the ship creates a vortex as it's going down 3) water rushing into the empty spaces of the ship

The didn't really do much with (3), but the first two they showed were actual valid theories by setting up a aeration/sinking platform rig in a pool. They even sat Adam on a platform that they sunk to the bottom of a pool, and he sunk straight to the bottom with it. The important part of the vortex theory, though, is that the ship has to sink quickly in order to create the vortex.

After this initial investigation, they took an old ship out into the Bay for sinking and resinking. They had resealable holes on the bottom and a crane to lift to boat back out. They coined the ship the 'Mythtanic," and for the most part, this portion of the show was a bit of a bust. They sank the ship twice. The first time Adam got scared and jumped off as the boat went under. The second time, Adam managed to stay on, but he wasn't the least bit pulled under. Based on this, they called the myth busted, as a ship probably doesn't sink fast enough to really pull you down.

Three-Second Goldfish Memory

This myth states that goldfish only have three seconds of memory, so you shouldn't feel bad when you stick them in a small fish bowl -- by the time they make it around the bowl, it's all new to them.

This silly myth was mainly an opportunity to show off the fact that Jamie really knows aquarium fish (apparently he trained a goldfish to ring a bell). They set up the mythbusting as a competition between Adam and Jamie to see who could train their fish to swim through a maze (four dividers in an aquarium with a hole in each) the quickest.

Jamie busted out bright colored rings, which he used to condition the fish to associate with food. Adam busied himself with trying to prevent the fish from dying. When it came to competition time, Jamie's fish zoomed from one side of the tank to the other. Adam's aimlessly wandered back and forth and never made it more than halfway across the course.


When they started rattling off Jamie's accomplishments, I started to wonder if they were kidding!

Did you catch the recent airplane-vs-handgun one? Very interesting...and I'm still amazed they aired the part where they blew the entire side of the plane off with an explosive the size of a baseball...

meta and I were wondering if Jamie was 80 or something, because he surely didn't look it, and it didn't seem possible that he could have accomplished all that, and built up all the expertise and portfolio for a special effects company. meta also suggested that at some point in the season, they may do a mythbusting on Jamie's history :).

The airplane-vs-handgun is perhaps my favorite episode yet, though I'm still waiting to catch the jet car episode. They've shown clips from the jet car episode in other episodes, but I'm not sure that they've actually aired it yet.

The airplane-vs-handgun episode was both good and bad for viewers. It demonstrates that even blowing out an entire window isn't enough to bring a plane down. However, the damage that the shape charge did was pretty impressive. Still, they also showed that planes have landed with even that much damage.

BTW, my entry on the airplane episode are here:

Unfortunately, damage of that magnitude to the mid fuselage is not survivable IMHO.
They lost the connection between the cabin floor and the fuselage, and the outer skin looked to be torn at least half was around the fuselage. Both the skin and the skeleton are important to supporting the loads on the aircraft, and they lost both of them in that area.

Add to that the aerodynamic load in that part of the airplane is coming upward to pass over the wing, aiming right at the gaping hole.

Anyway, they're showing the jet car on repeat pretty regularly, set your tivo appropriately. It's one of the great moments in television, in my distorted book...

Oh well, I guess I won't place that shape charge in the RV-9 when you're done :)

BTW - my TiVo's letting me down - it keeps missing that episode. According to the schedule it's not on again in the next two weeks, so I'll have to wait for the next cycle.

According to IMBD, Jamie Hyneman was born in 1956, so at the time of this post, he'd be about 50

Jamie used to own a lion? As hard as that sounds to believe, somehow, with Jamie, it's not so unbelievable

As a musician, I had a little problem with the whole trombone 1812 Overture myth. One, why was a mute used? No mute is required in the score. Two, the way a trombone is built, any explosive would obviously injure the player infinitly more than the conductor. The distance between our trombonist and maestro Buster is not correct. There are an awful lot of strings and wind players between those points in any orchestra. But, having known a lot of trombonists...they have few enough brains to think this might have worked!

The boat that was sunk was simply not big enough and did not sink fast enough. It is a simple matter of mass. As a boat moves through the water it creats drag(suction) behind it, this is the same as if it where to sink, as it sinks water is pulled behind it, the larger the mass and the higher the speed the more drag(suction) created.
But most of this is not likely to happen on the surface, but just below.
similiar to the suction at the bottom of a waterfall.