Episode 16: Ancient Death Ray, Skunks, What is Bulletproof?
- Archimedes constructed a solar death ray that he used to ignite Roman ships: busted. Update: the MythBusters have revisited the Archimedes Death Ray in season three (still busted)
- Removing skunk odor with...:
- Tomato juice: plausible
- Beer (MGD): busted
- Douche: busted
- Hydrogen peroxide + baking soda + liquid dish soap: confirmed
- Commercial skunk remover: confirmed (not as good as custom mix above)
- Stopping bullets with a...:
- book: busted
- deck of cards: busted
- Zippo: busted
- 1/4" polycarbonate: busted
- bullet-resistant polycarbonate: confirmed
Woohoo! MythBusters is back after a few false starts. In addition to busting a couple more myths, this episode also added to the Jamie mythos, including: * Jamie has a flamethrower in his office * Jamie has traveled around the world on his sailboat (offhand comment by Adam as he was wearing a fake bushy mustache to depict Jamie after his long voyage)
Of course, at this point, they may just be blurting stuff out to setup the eventual Jamie mythbusting episode.
Archimedes Death Ray
Update: the MythBusters have revisited the Archimedes Death Ray in season three (still busted)
The Death Ray myth was advertised as the oldest myth they've ever busted, going back all the way to the 3rd century BC and Archimedes. I didn't really know that much about Archimedes beyond his buoyancy principle, but, as I found out, he was a great mathematician and inventor of the catapult, lever, and compound pulley (block and tackle). One of his attributed inventions, though, is considered a little more dubious.
As the myth has it, during the Second Punic Wars, Archimedes built his 'burning mirrors,' which was an arrangement of mirrors that was capable of focusing a ray of sunshine on approaching ships and setting them aflame.
After testing bronze and various other reflective materials, Adam settled on making a 400 sq ft mirror using 300 individual mirrors arranged in a circular configuration, with all of the mirrors focused on the same point at a 60 ft distance. Apparently, mirrors can put out 30kW/sq ft, which means that their mirror could theoretically put out about 600 degrees of heat.
Adam had some of the new crew build half a trireme, which they had an interesting time balancing in the water. With their giant mirror raised, they were able to bring up the temperature to 200 degrees. The crew raised some additional sheets of reflective material, but was only able to get the temperature up to 280 degrees. Jamie was even able to stand directly in the beam, as the mirrors simply weren't focused enough.
The mirror met a fateful end dropped onto the pavement, and the boat met a similar fate as they were unable to burn it to ash using flaming arrows and Molotov cocktails. busted
Fun fact: skunk spray is made up of 'thiols', which is responsible for some of the bad smell of decomposing flesh and feces.
In the tradition of the stinky pigs, Jamie and Adam volunteered to get skunked in order to test various stink remedies. The only problem was it's a lot harder to get skunked than you might think. Critter control brought by three different skunks, but Jamie and Adam were unable to get any of the three to spray them while they jumped and battered their cages. As Adam said, they must have encountered "Buddha reincarnated as a skunk." More likely, the skunks, having already been captured either used up their spray or couldn't possibly be more frightened. They even tried synthetic skunk spray, but discovered that it loses its pungency fairly quickly.
They finally got some skunk spray by releasing the third skunk in the women's bathroom, though after trying a couple of the remedies, they had to revert to the synthetic spray for some of the testing. Scottie Chapman served as both smell tester as well as female Adam, delivering this segment's colorful dialogue.
Results of the various cleansers: * Tomato juice: smelled like a "bloody mary," but no skunk. plausible * Beer (MGD): used to cleanup bathroom where skunk sprayed. "Smells like the men's room at a dive bar." busted * Douche: Adam took a swig to verify that it's composed vinegar and water. "Not so fresh." busted * Hydrogen peroxide + baking soda + liquid dish soap: it worked. Apparently the mixture releases oxygen compounds that bond with thiols and neutralize their smell. confirmed * Commercial skunk remover: worked, but not as well as the hydrogen peroxide mixture. ok
What is bulletproof?
Adam and Jamie took shots at various items that at one time or another have been claimed to have bullet-stopping power. The .22 rifle was weaker than the .357 magnum, so if the item didn't stop it they didn't bother moving up to the .357.
- Book (.22 rifle): bullet made it through 400 pages.
- Book (.357): Adam missed with multiple shots, but Jaime's shot went straight through
- Deck of cards (.22): bullet went straight through
- Zippo (.22): bullet went straight through
After dispensing of the less-plausible bullet-stopping material, they then looked at polycarbonate sheets. They frequently use 1/4" polycarbonate to form their blast screens, and Adam delighted in showing a clip of Jamie saying that the polycarbonate "will stop a bullet."
1/4" polycarbonate isn't bullet-proof, but to show demonstrate that polycarbonate can be, they tested both the 1/4" polycarbonate that they use and a thicker, bullet-resistant-rated sheet.
- 1/4" polycarbonate (.22): bullet went right through
- Bullet resistant (.22): stopped bullet
- Bullet resistant (.357): stopped bullet. Energy from blast was spread outward from point of impact.
- Bullet resistant (.44): stopped bullet. Even wider energy dispersion into the polycarbonate.
- Bullet resistant (Springfield .30 aught six (.30-06) (bullet)): went straight through