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Episode 84: Viewer Special

  • Eye-popping sneeze: if you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyes will pop out busted
  • Car Explosion: Adam and Jamie can blow up a kid's parents' car confirmed
  • Stopping a Car in Reverse: you can stop a car by throwing it into reverse busted
  • Killer Butts: Three cigarettes shot from a rifle at 7 feet point-blank can be lethal confirmed
  • Car Remote Capers: You can open a car lock with a tennis ball busted
  • Stopping a Blade: A book in your pocket can stop a sword confirmed, coins in your pocket busted

For this episode, the MythBusters blitzed through several myths submitted by their fans

Eye-popping Sneeze

Myth: If you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyes will pop out and roll across the floor

Most requested myth in MythBusters history with 10,000 requests

The force of a sneeze is fairly impressive: spray from sneeze reaches 120mph.

They decided to bust this myth by taking high-speed footage of sneezes. First up was Jamie, who first had his nose tickled with a feather by Adam and then switched to black pepper to deliver a sneeze on camera. Unfortunately, his eyes were closed.

Side note: pepper contains the alkaloid piperine irritates the nerve endings under your mucus membranes that causes you to sneeze.

Adam was up next and he managed to deliver two sneezes on camera with his eyes open -- he used his fingers to keep his eyes open, as his eyes shut with a normal sneeze. Unsurprisingly, his eyes did not fly out of his head.

Opthamolagist Jacque Duncan at the Vision Correction Center at UCSF explained the science: your eye has a covering, muscles, and an optic nerve all preventing your eyes from popping out as you sneeze.


Stopping a Car in Reverse

Myth: You can stop a car by throwing it in reverse

Tory and Grant went to the runway at Alameda with two beat-up cars to test the myth. Grant drove an automatic and Tory drove a stick shift. Using normal brakes, the stopping distance of the automatic from 50 mph was 65 ft for the automatic and 80 ft for the stick shift.

Grant tried shifting the automatic into reverse at 50mph and nothing really happened except a check engine light -- it took 2270 ft for it to coast to a stop. As it turns out, the automatic they used has a safety device that prevents a shift into reverse. They also tried shifting it into Park and had the same result.

Tory struggled to engaged the reverse on the stick shift but it wouldn't engage. Instead, there was just the sound of gears grinding as it rejected his attempts while the car coasted for 1922ft.


Car Explosion (Hollywood vs. Real Explosion)

Dear Adam & Jamie,
Please blow up my parents car.
Many Thanks

This wasn't a myth, but rather a request from young Chris Cannella, who wanted to blow up his parents' car. The MythBusters viewed this as a chance to return to the site of some of their most famous explosions: the Calaveras County Rock quarry where they blew up the Cement Truck and mock train station in 22,000 ft fall. Frank Doyle was once again on hand to provide the explosives.

They decided to do two explosions with the parents' Camry station wagon: "Hollywood" and "Real". The Hollywood explosion was mostly burning gasoline, with a small amount of explosives under the gasoline used to vaporize and burn it. Adam set it up so that he could run away from the car and dive in mid-air as it exploded (they took out the windows to prevent him from being stuck with glass). He was a second off, but there was still pretty explosions behind him as he was suspended in mid-air.

Chris: "Right now I pretty much feel like the happiest kid on earth, and this is just half of it."

Jamie: "The next thing we're gonna do is put real explosives in this car and the car is going to go away"

For the "real" explosion, Doyle and his crew put three packs of explosives in the car: front, middle, and back. As they watched from 1000 ft away, the car was blasted to bits. It wasn't as impressive as the Cement Truck, but the car was ripped into small pieces, and they made a kid very, very happy.

Jamie: "One way you can tell if MythBusters has been in the area is to look for shrapnel in the trees"

Killer Butts

Myth: Three cigarettes shot from a rifle at 7 feet can be lethal

As the story goes, a couple of good 'ole boys decided to get drunk and mess around with guns. One of them put three cigarettes down the barrel of a muzzle-loading rifle and shot it at his buddy, killing him.

Adam brewed up a clear ballistics gel dummy (new mixture) with a pig heart embedded in the center. They didn't bother with a rib cage as they were going with the assumption that the butts were able to squeak through the gaps in the rib cage. They found an exact replica of the muzzle-loading rifle in the myth and went down to the South San Francisco Police Department firing range, where they met up with their old testing buddy Master Sgt. Alan Normandy.

For their first two tests, they used 80 grains of black powder and shot cigarette filters at seven feet. The first shot sprayed the dummy with filters, wadding, and black powder, but caused no real damage. The unburnt black powder lead them to believe that the rifle wasn't packed tight enough, so they tried again with more wadding. The next test didn't fare any better, with just more shotgun damage-less spray.

They reasoned that the cigarette filters they were using were incorrect. An actual smoked cigarette butt weighs three times as much as a cigarette filter and is closer to what would have probably been used. They repeated their tests, this time with 'pre-smoked' cigarette butts. At seven feet they had a little more damage than before, but just non-lethal flesh wounds. At point-blank range, the shot went straight into the pig heart. At that distance, the cigarette butts definitely could be lethal.

confirmed (from point-blank range, not 7 ft)

Car Remote Capers

Myth: You can open a car lock using a tennis ball with a hole in it. You stick the hole over the car lock and press as hard as you can.

This myth is based on an Internet video:

Blondie Unlocks Car - The funniest videos clips are here

The presumption is that the air pressure pops the lock.

The build team first tested two tennis balls with different-sized holes. Neither was able to open their minivan, so they decided to ditch the tennis balls and attack the air pressure theory directly. They used vaseline to get a perfect seal on the lock and shot 100psi into it. The lock didn't open.

Their belief is that the video was a trick: someone just used the car remote to open the door at the same time the tennis ball was used.


Online Extra: Stopping a Blade

Myth: Can a pocket full of coins or a good book save you from a stabbing sword

This myth comes from the Civil War, so they found a Civil War sword and some antique coins to test with. The build team dressed up a ham in a shirt and placed the materials in the front pocket. Tory stabbed the pocket with a book in it and only made it halfway through the book. Grant took a stab at a pocket with the antique coins it it -- softer than modern coins -- and was able to stab the ham. They examined the coins and determined that Grant's stab hit one of the coins dead on, but the coin then deflected and allowed him to continue the stab.

book: confirmed

coins: busted