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Episode 69: 22,000 foot fall, Lights On or Off

  • An explosion can save you from a 22,000 ft fall: busted
  • It's better to leave light bulbs on: busted

The 22,000 Foot Fall myth was in many was a revisit of the Cement Mix Up myth, i.e. setting off a really big explosion in a Calaveras County quarry for kicks, though they were actually testing a myth this time around. This explosion had better footage than the cement truck as you could see the shockwave more clearly, and there is even a fire-fighting copter swooping in afterwards to put out fire on the surrounding hillside. As this myth did have a true story at its core, there was some hint of belief from Adam that this might actually work... until they were reminded what a 1,000 lb bomb looks like.

I was interested in the lights on or off myth as I had been told that its generally best if you leave fluorescent lights on all the time. I believe I had been told something like, "unless you leave the fluorescent lights off for more than an hour, you shouldn't turn them off." As it turns out, the actual rule for fluorescent lights is about 23 seconds. For other lights, about a second or less.

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Episode 68: Christmas Tree Lights, Antigravity Device, Vodka Myths IV

  • Christmas Tree Lights: Heat from Christmas lights can set a Christmas tree on fire. busted
  • Antigravity Device: you can build an antigravity device. busted
  • Can vodka cure a jellyfish sting? confirmed

This episode showed that the MythBusters haven't run out of quacky devices (see Mind Control, Pyramid Power) nor vodka-related myths (see Vodka Myths, Vodka Myths II, Vodka Myths III). For a bit of festive spirit, they threw in a Christmas tree light myth, which can either scare you away from decoratin' the tree or give you more confidence, depending on your point of view.

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Episode 64: More Myths Revisited

  • Salami Rocket: they admitted that the viewers may have been right about their original rocket failing, but this time around they were able to properly confirm that you can use a salami as rocket fuel.
  • Rough Road Driving side myth: Holding your hand against a windshield will prevent rocks from shattering it: busted
  • Tailgate Up or Down Revisited: in addition to tailgate up/down, also tested hardcover over pickup bed, tailgate removed, and tailgate mesh. Tailgate mesh was most efficient by 5%. busted
  • Cutting a Sword Revisited: During WWII, Japanese soldiers were able to slice American machine gun barrels in half: busted

With the exception of the Salami Rocket revisit, these were all side myths rather than retests of the original MythBusting. They tested another myth related to rough road driving, swords cutting gun barrels instead of other swords, and other fuel efficiency measurements for pickup truck tailgates. The Salami Rocket retest was notable in that the viewers complaining may have been right: the original salami rocket probably did not fire, but flew anyway. With some tweaking, they were able to get the new salami rockets to fire and generate 800lbs+ of salami power.

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Episode 63: Air Cylinder Rocket, Gunpowder Engine

Episode 63: Air Cylinder Rocket, Gunpowder Engine

  • An air cylinder break through a cinder block wall: confirmed
  • You can run an engine using only gunpowder: busted

The air cylinder myth was an easy myth for Adam and Jamie to test, which leads me to believe that it was really just an excuse for them to build an air-cylinder-powered speed boat, which took up the rest of the segment. The results were far from spectacular, but they had their fun.

The gunpowder engine myth was a tour through history as the build team tried out several historical designs for gunpowder engines. It culminated with a test of a modern combustion engine hooked up to gunpowder fired through a mini-sandblaster, but they couldn't get it turning. In most cases, the gunpowder was too powerful and easily overwhelmed the reloading mechanisms necessary for sustained power.

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Episode 62: Killer Cable Snaps, Pottery Record

  • A snapping cable can cut a person in half
  • Sound can be recorded onto pottery like a record

The cable snap myth saw the return of pig carcasses as standins for human bodies. Its not a episode for those easily made queasy. The cable snap myth tested a belief that many of us, including Adam, had: that a snapping cable can cut you in half. But their own researchers had not turned up a single confirmed case of this actually happening and their testing confirmed what their researchers did: a snapping cable isn't going to cut through you like butter. It can kill you and cause many other types of damage, but in their multiple tests, though couldn't get a single cut.

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Special: Mega-Movie Myths

  • Awning Fall/Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: you can survive a fall through multiple multiple awnings. plausible, but not recommended
  • Cutting a Sword in Half/Count of Monte Cristo: You can cut a sword in half with another. busted
  • Ejector Seat/Austin Powers: Goldmember: You can completely conceal an ejector seat in a car. plausible
  • Shooting Locks Off/Big Trouble in Little China: You can shoot a lock off with a gun. plausible (requires shotgun or rifle), but many safety issues
  • Jumping a Gorge with a Car/Dukes of Hazzard: You can jump over a gorge in a car using a dirt ramp, and the car will keep running. busted
  • Ballistic Breakout/Underworld: You can shoot a floor out beneath you. busted

Unlike any other episode recounted on this site, I actually got to see part of this episode shot in person. See On the Set with the MythBusters for my recounting of being on the set. You can also see my Awning Fall (with spoilers) photos as well as my Awning Fall Setup photos.

I think that this episode has some of the best-executed myths to date: Ejection Seat and Jumping a Gorge. Sometimes episodes end on a bit of a down note when something goes wrong with the setup itself, but this episode managed to pull off two full hours of satisfying myths.

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Episode 61: Deadly Straw, Primary Perception

  • A hurricane can blow a piece of straw through a palm tree: busted
  • A hurricane can blow all the feathers off a chicken: busted
  • Primary perception: All living things are interconnected by ESP and have emotions: busted

The primary perception myth was the kooky myth of the episode and it started off on a weird note: they actually got a polygraph to react to Tory's thoughts of harming a plant. As they improved their experimental setup, though, these weird results disappeared.

The hurricane-related myths saw the construction of a new MythBusters air cannon. This one couldn't fire chickens -- just at them -- but it did feature an 80-foot-long barrel. It was a little scary as a straw gun; it was absolutely frightening as a piano wire gun.

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Episode 60: Earthquake Machine, Exploding Lava Lamp

  • Earthquake Machine: Nicola Tesla invented a device capable of generating earthquakes. busted
  • Exploding Lava Lamp (and other household items on stove): a lava lamp on a stove can explode with lethal force. confirmed. Other household items tested include:
    • can of beans: small cans probably not lethal but larger cans could be
    • canned meat (spam): probably non-lethal
    • glass jar of milk: possibly lethal if you were looking directly down on it.
    • "Big Bertha" lava lamp: the lamp broke into small spears of glass and shot around. confirmed lethal

Watching slo-mo video of lava lamps exploding was more fun than watching actual lava lamps, but I'm not sure where the MythBusters even found a glass jar of milk. I found the small explosions to be more interesting than the Tesla earthquake myth, given that there was no real way in which the MythBusters were going to replicate the myth this time around. They were surprised at their ability to get the old Carquinez bridge to vibrate, but nothing was violently shaken apart.

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Episode 59: Crimes and MythDemeanors II

  • Fingerprint scanners can't be defeated: busted (broke both a computer scanner and a 'never been defeated' door lock)
  • Ultrasonic motion sensors can't be defeated: busted
    • ... a shag rug costume: busted
    • ... a bed sheet: confirmed
    • ... walking slowly: confirmed
  • Thermal sensors can't be defeated: busted. You can defeat a thermal motion alarm with
    • ... cooling yourself with a fire extinguisher: busted
    • ... wearing a neoprene suit: busted
    • ... covering your body in mud: busted
    • ... increasing the temperature of the room: busted
    • ... a pane of glass: confirmed
  • Bypassing a glass-relocker safe with water and explosives: plausible. Numerous problems with this technique, though.

See Great Hollywood Heists/Crimes and MythDemeanors I

I loved this episode. It had a bit of everything that makes MythBusters great: surprising results (beating a motion sensor with a bed sheet), explosions, and ridiculousness (Kari dressing up in a yellow shag suit, Tory covered in mud, etc...). The first Crime and MythDemeanors episode was great fun as well, but this one had a greater level of success in defeating the sensors.

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Episode 58: Shattering Subwoofers and Rough Road Driving

  • Shattering Subwoofer: a car speaker system can blow up a car. busted
  • Rough Road Driving: driving faster on a rough road is smoother. confirmed

Update: rough road driving revisited in More Myths Revisited (holding your hand up against a windshield to prevent it from shattering)

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Episode 57: Diet Coke and Mentos, Postage Stamp on a Helicopter

  • Diet Coke and Mentos: CO2, aspartame, potassium benzoate, and caffeine in the Diet Coke, gum Arabic and gelatin in the Mentos, as well as the tiny pits on a Mentos candy (nucleation sites) are responsible for the explosive reaction of Diet Coke and Mentos
  • Postage stamp on a helicopter: mythbusted. If you stuck ~8000 postage stamps, you could crash a copter, but a single postage stamp won't make a difference.
  • Methane soap bubbles, homemade smoke bombs, dry ice bombs, and hydrogen potato chip bombs can be as spectacular as Diet Coke and Mentos, but not nearly as safe or easy to procure ingredients for.

The Diet Coke and Mentos segment wasn't a myth, and they admitted as much. They wanted to investigate all the varying explanations for the reaction they had heard. They first investigated the ingredients of Diet Coke and found that CO2, aspartame, potassium benzoate, and caffeine all contributed to the reaction. They next tested the ingredients of Mentos and isolated gum arabic and gelatin as causes. They also found that the small pits on Mentos contribute to the reaction by providing nucleation sites. With all this information in hand, they decided to build a rocket, which was a big failure. They then did a spout height competition, which beat the unofficial record of 18ft (they got 29+ft). Finally, they tried to create their own fun Internet craze that would be fun (i.e. explosive), safe, and easy to put together, but failed. They had fun down though: flaming columns of methane soap bubbles, homemade smoke bombs, dry ice bombs, and hydrogen potato chip bombs.

As with many of their myths, they first started off with some scale models tests. With a 1/7th scale R/C helicopter, they weren't able to get any deflection of the blades under the normal conditions of the myth. With an 8000 postage stamp equivalent, they got the copter to shatter into pieces. They finished their testing with an actual helicopter from the Oakland Police Department. The copter was able to fly with a postage stamp on the top and tail boom rotor, and a velocimeter showed that there was very little different in later motion with the postage stamp applied. busted

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Episode 56: Killer Whirlpools, Snowplow Flips Car

  • Whirlpools can suck down boats: busted. No recorded whirlpool is even close to the strength necessary for sucking down a ship.
  • Whirlpools can suck down people: plausible. Adam willingly demonstrated this one.
  • A snowplow can blow over a passing car: busted. One their one test run, they couldn't get the other car close to tipping.

Adam really put himself out their physically for the whirlpool myth, donning the wet suit and letting himself get spun like a top as he hung onto a trapeze. All was well until Jamie cruelly suggested a second go, which resulted in partially digested pizza getting spun down the whirlpool

The snowplow myth was one of those myths where nothing went right, frustrating the hell out of the build team. They spent almost no time on the myth itself, instead focusing on how their free snowplow gave them nothing but trouble, taking many days to even get it running. The remote braking system failed to activate, or rather, Grant "forgot" to activate it, so in the final experiment the snowplow went crashing into the barriers, and was later fork-lifted up and flipped over for glee.

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Episode 55: Archimedes Steam Cannon, Cereal Nutrition

  • Archimedes Steam Cannon: mythbusted. Using modern materials and a design from Leonardo da Vinci, they were unable to get the cannon to launch. Using a more modern boiler design, they were able to launch the cannonball a mile down the Alameda runway.
  • The cereal box can be healthier than the cereal: mythbusted. In the cereal they tested, there were less calories and almost no detectable nutrients (fat, starches, protein, sugar).

Archimedes returned again, this time with a steam cannon myth. With only vague designs to support the myth, they decided to go a bit more modern in their construction to show the designs at their fullest. Their first steam cannon build, based on a Leonardo drawing, didn't do so well. After a could of attempts that ended in hisses, the most they could manage was plopping the cannonball out. They didn't want to end the show with a plop, so they built a steam cannon with a proper boiler. They didn't get anywhere near their intended psi because the sun was setting and it was taking too long, but they still managed to launch the cannonball a mile down the runway (unclear how much of that was rolling, but still...). Who knows what fun would have ensued if they actually got to full power.

This episode was originally supposed to show with a segment on teeth whitening, but it was cut due to sponsor conflicts. There was also more footage shot for the cereal box myth that had to be cut due to the unintentionally gruesome result when they tried have mice survive on the box alone.

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Episode 54: Crimes and Myth-Demeanors 1

The MythBusters and build team tested a variety of Hollywood Heist myths laid out as security assault course for them to try and get through. It should be noted that what they were testing was the Hollywood presentation of these challenges, so the security systems had some unrealistic weaknesses.

  • Duct climbing (suction cups or magnets): busted. There is no way to get up without being detected easily.
  • Lasers (making them visible with powder, using nightvision goggles, adding your own beam): visible alarm systems as shown in movies aren't used for security system (busted) and infrared systems are 'virtually impossible' to get past (busted).
  • Cutting a small circular hole in a piece of glass and removing it: busted. They couldn't cleanly and quietly remove the piece of glass, though they were able to shatter the entire piece of tempered glass, remove some shards with pliers, and get past it that way (plausible).
  • Retrieving an object from underneath a pressure-sensor rigged display case: they weren't able to defeat the sensor using a knife and gum as in the Entrapment movie (busted), but they did defeat it using a knife and duct tape (plausible).
  • Safe cracking: Adam couldn't crack it using an amplified stethoscope (busted), but he was able to break into a safe in 45 minutes using a drill and borescope. I didn't hear them officially state plausible or confirmed for this part, though, given that the safe is officially rated at 5 minutes for a professional safecracker, its should be confirmed that a 5-minute safe could be broken into in 5-minutes or less even if they were unable to do the same.

See "Video 4" in my Encinal High Benefit summary for more background information on the magnets and suction cup parts of this myth.

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