Latest MythBusters Results

Episode 199: Deadliest Catch Crabtastic Special

Air Date: May 8, 2013

A fisherman will be pulled to the bottom of the ocean if he is caught in the coiled rope when a crab pot is deployed.

plausible

With the help of Deadliest Catch captains Johnathan Hillstrand and Scott “Junior” Campbell, Jamie and Adam set out to test this myth. A scale model experiment showed that normal (spring) coiling did not consistently pull someone off the boat, but over-under coiling did. However, for the full-scale test, a regular coil was used because it is more frequently used in real life. In the first series of tests, with Buster standing away from the boat’s railing or leaning on the railing, the rope consistently caught his leg but did not pull him over. In a final test, with Buster looking over the railing, he went overboard and was dragged along with the pot to the bottom of the bay. This myth was deemed plausible because the rope would consistently grab the fisherman’s leg but it would not consistently pull him overboard.

Working a 30-hour shift with 20-minute naps every six hours results in double the performance of not getting any sleep.

confirmed

On an anchored ship, the Build Team set up a crab-fishing themed obstacle course to test their mental and physical abilities. Kari and Tory both completed the course with perfect scores when well-rested. Attempting the course after being awake 30 straight hours resulted in dramatically low scores. When they added the brief naps to their 30 hours of wakefulness, they both achieved more than double their previous scores.

The 800 lbs (360 kg) crab pots used on Deadliest Catch are indestructible.

busted

The fishermen claimed that one of their pots would survive a 3 lbs (1.4 kg) C-4 blast without any damage to its steel structure. After a test with the C-4 in the middle of the pot, only the webbing was damaged so they appeared to be correct. However, after the Build Team strategically placed the explosives below the steel struts, the pot was heavily damaged.

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Episode 198: JATO Rocket Car: Mission Accomplished?

Air Date: May 1, 2013

An airman strapped a jet assisted take off (JATO) unit to his Chevy Impala, rocketed across the desert at 300 mph (480 km/h), and soared through the air for over a mile after hitting a bump.

busted

All five MythBusters joined forces to test this myth and to commence their 10th anniversary season. This was the first myth ever tested on the series and it was still not fully resolved after two previous attempts (in Jet Assisted Chevy and Supersized Myths).

To begin, the Adam and Jamie tore out the inside of a Chevy Impala and welded in an extensive steel mounting system for the rockets. They used five rockets with 2,000 pounds (900 kg) of thrust each, for a total 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of thrust. Extra weight was also added to the front of the car to help balance it. Grant then modified the car to be driven remotely by adding controls for the steering, throttle, brake, and shifter. Kari and Tory modified a large dump truck to be used as a mobile bunker during the rocket tests. They protected the cabin of the truck with a thick steel cage and polycarbonate blast shields.

To conduct the rocket tests, the team traveled to a dry lake bed in the Mojave desert. A blast-resistant steel building was trucked in to protect the crew from any rouge rocket cars. A line of 50 pound (23 kg) sand bags was used to create a berm for the car to hit. Adam drove the Impala from within the mobile bunker and Kari fired the rockets at the appropriate moment. The approach and ignition were clean; the car accelerated to about 200 mph (320 km/h) before hitting the berm. After hitting the berm the car quickly tumbled wildly out of control, destroying itself. At this point the MythBusters decided they had replicated the conditions of the myth as perfectly as possible and declared it busted.

In an attempt to replicate the results of the myth by any means possible, the MythBusters used a second Impala with a total of six rockets attached for a total thrust of 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg). Instead of a berm, they built a large ramp out of prefabricated roof trusses. The ramp was 65 ft (20 m) long and 11 ft (3.3 m) high. With Jamie controlling the Impala this time, the car hit the ramp dead-on and briefly launched into the air. The car then tumbled forward and bounced off the ground again before smashing itself. It traveled a total of 600 ft (180 m) after hitting the ramp.

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Episode 197: Airplane Boarding

Air Date: December 16, 2012

When boarding an airplane, boarding back-to-front is the slowest method.

confirmed

To allow them to test various boarding methods, Adam and Jamie built an accurate replica of an airliner’s interior that included 173 real airplane seats as well as real overhead luggage compartments. Volunteers were staged at a simulated boarding gate and were given tickets with their seat assignments before each of the tests. To further simulate reality, 5% of the passengers were given instructions to behave problematically by going upstream, sitting in the wrong seat, boarding small children, or wasting time with folding a coat in the aisle. Professional flight attendants were also brought in to assist with the boarding process.

Each method of boarding was judged objectively on the time it took to board all of the passengers and subjectively by the passengers’ satisfaction after each boarding experience. The satisfaction score was calculated as a sum of votes wherein “great” votes earned 1 point, “neutral” votes earned 0 points, and “terrible” votes earned -1 points.

These were the results from the boarding methods that were tested:

Method Description Time Satisfaction
Back-to-front Business boarded first, then the zones were boarded starting in the back and moving to the front of the plane. 24:29 19
Random with seats Business boarded first, then all rows and all passengers were allowed to board. 17:15 12
WILMA Business boarded first, followed by all window seats, then all middle seats, then all aisle seats. 14:55 102
WILMA with blocks Business boarded first, followed by a combination of the back-to-front and WILMA methods; each zone was boarded with the WILMA method, starting in the back. 15:07 105
No assigned seats Business boarded first, then all other passengers chose their own seats. 14:07 -5
Reverse pyramid Business boarded first, followed by a sophisticated cascade of zones spreading from rear windows. 15:10 113

The back-to-front method proved to be the slowest method tested. It was noted that the fastest method (no assigned seats) ironically had the lowest satisfaction score, but there were also methods that much faster and much more satisfying (e.g. WILMA) than the back-to-front method.

A human tooth can be made into a bullet that is accurate, lethal, and undetectable after it shatters on impact.

busted

The build team chose to test three different types of firearms in this for this myth. They obtained real human teeth from a dentist to make their bullets. Kari made bullets for a handgun (.357 Magnum revolver). She chose not to shape the teeth in order to retain the hard enamel coating. Tory made shotgun shells using crushed up teeth. Grant made bullets for a rifle. He ground and shaped the teeth in order to improve their aerodynamics and accuracy. Grant also wanted to test this myth using bone instead of teeth, so he made additional bullets from a cow femur.

To test accuracy, the bullets were fired from a rig with normal ammunition, followed by the dental ammunition. The handgun with the unshaped bullets was found to be very inaccurate so no further tests were done with it. The shotgun’s accuracy was not affected by using teeth fragments as the shot. The power of the rifle destroyed the teeth bullets before they hit the target. The bone bullets in the rifle had reduced accuracy compared to lead bullets but they still hit the target.

For testing lethality, the bullets were fired at a ballistics gel target. 4 inches (10 cm) of penetration was deemed the benchmark for a lethal hit. Normal buckshot fired from the shotgun went all the way through the target (well over 4 inches). The teeth fragments only penetrated 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). Normal bullets from the rifle went clear through the target while a large bone bullet penetrated 6 inches (15 cm).

Finally, to test detectability, the bullets were fired at pig corpses which were stuffed with organs (the butcher could not sell them containing the organs). A pathologist was invited onto the show to determine if she could detect the cause of the wounds. In each case, the pathologist was able to retrieve the bullet fragments and identify them as foreign. She was even able to reconstruct the bone rifle bullet and reveal the rifling marks on it. Because none of the bullets met all of the conditions of the premise, it was declared busted.

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