Episode 47: Helium Football

Air Date: February 1, 2006

A regulation NFL football will fly farther when filled with helium as opposed to compressed air at regulation pressure (13 psi).

busted

Under the same amount of impulse force under the same atmospheric conditions, balls filled with helium showed no significant difference from balls filled with compressed air. It was also shown that, under the same impulse, both types of balls had the same initial velocity; since the helium-filled balls have less mass than the air-filled ones, the helium-filled balls have less inertia in flight: in fact, they may perform worse than air-filled balls over larger distances.

It is possible for a human to catch a fired bullet in one piece with their teeth.

busted

A pig’s teeth are significantly stronger than a human’s, and yet were shattered by an impulse test when a bullet, held by a pig head’s teeth under the same pressure as an average human’s maximum bite strength, was suddenly forced forward by a force equivalent to a speeding bullet. Furthermore, the reaction time needed to perfectly capture a bullet in one’s teeth is too short and has too tight a tolerance for any human (and almost any machine for that matter) to succeed. Finally, when the bullet was captured perfectly, the velocity that it traveled at completely destroyed even a full metal jacket bullet: it is impossible to catch a bullet in the same state as it exited a gun via solid mechanical means.

32 Comments

  1. Ray says:

    I once caught a bullet in my teeth. I was being abducted by aliens, and they were probing me, and then they fired this bullet past my teeth, and I must have been using my universal senses, but it was stopped. My alien friends dont call much anymore. . . Actually, no one calls me anymore. Cursed damn aliens!!!

    • Richard says:

      I caught a bullet with my teeth it was when i was driving in Iraq in my millitary unit and then we started taking fire so when i brought out my m4 i got shot in my left shoulder then one enter my mouth but my teeth caught it but it had entered my partner before me.

  2. Ash says:

    Ray, they can call you Ray. Damn aliens have quit visiting me since I had my hysterectomy. Guess I am no good to them anymore. Doc said they “growth” was unidetified by lab, yeah right. They got my number and I hope they never call me…I just do not want to know

  3. Bjorn Johansson says:

    About the helium football. I think the question is wrongly put. A baloon or massive iron ball will both go just afew meters. The ideal weight shuld therefor lie somewhere in between and there is nothing that says that the football will go longer if it becomes lighter. Perhaps it shuld be heavier.
    (pardon my french and thankyou for an interesting TV-program)

  4. stevan says:

    yo this foot ball thing is cool yo were do u watch it again cuz i cant find a way 2 see it over cuz im doing somthing close 2 this 4 my project and i need 2 see if its like the same im doing hydrogen vs air footballs can u do one like this 4 one of ur shows well bye

    • Mark says:

      Hey steven. Pull up your pants and get a belt.

  5. tanner says:

    i need to know about the footballs normal air pressure regulations and if it will be thrown and kicked farther by if its less or more air pressure from comfort and air drag

  6. Rachael says:

    dude i can catch a bullet with my teeth that is a lie!!

  7. Andrew says:

    OMG!!! ADAM AND JAMIE ARE MY HEROES!!! WHEN YOU COME TO SOUTH AFRICA AGAIN PLEASE LET ME KNOW I WANT TO TAKE A PICTURE WITH MY 2 HEROES PLEASE!!!

  8. Dennis says:

    The Myth with the Helium/Air footballs, can go both ways. You people tried a Regulation NFL football, of high quality. Using a different type of football changes the outcome. For a project I made, I tried this, and actually Helium went further, because of the lightness on the football. Three test’s with each ball proved it.

    I’m still agreeing with your project with NFL regulation ball.

  9. Dewayne says:

    I was intrigued by your helium football tests but the point was “hang time” how long it stayed in the air. Shouldn’t you have done a test to see if once the top of arch or peak height had been reached the drop to earth was the longer with the helium ball then the one with regular air? That is: is the fall rate the same

  10. William says:

    Hy i’ve got a myth for you!!!!Can you jump a footballfild on a motercycle?

  11. Andy says:

    Suggested Myths to bust/prove:
    1. If a man says something in a forest and there’s no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?
    2. In any family photo of at least 6 people, there’s always SOMEBODY pulling a stupid face!
    3. Any given blog will attract 8/10 stupid comments!

  12. Emma-Lyn says:

    Can you guys do a exeriment thing on how to see if lie detectors really work if you havnt already done that

  13. Matthew Plunkett says:

    Can you fill the football with hydrogen or pure oxygen? If that doesn’t work, try heavier gases.

  14. Paul Phillips says:

    could you please look at this you tube video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb2BZwO0n70

  15. Jay T says:

    I saw on an episode of The Footy Show (Australian Rugby League show) where they got one Hazem El Mazri to kick an air filled NRL ball and a helium filled ball. The helium ball went about 100 metres/330 feet and the air ball was only half as far. I still don’t know whether it’s real or not haha.
    It’s on youtube if anyone’s interested.

  16. liz says:

    Omg! aliens!!! really??? do you guys have no life? and thanks myth busters my teacher got inspriation from your show now we have to do a stupid project over christmas break!!!!! (jk i love your show)

  17. Mike says:

    In the helium football episode as you said that if u put a cylinder over the eiffel tower, the air inside is acually heavier than the tower itself. How is that possible??

    • David says:

      The Eiffel tower is 293 meters high and the legs are 125 meters apart. The widest point would be the diagonal between the legs, which would be around 177 meters.
      At these measurements a cylinder around the tower would have a volume of 293 x (177 / 2)^2 = 2294849 cubic meters.
      The weight of air at around sea level is about 1.2 Kg/M^3, which would give the cylinder a mass of around 2753 metric tonnes.
      Wikipedia tells us that the metal parts of the tower alone weigh 7300 tonnes. Add another 3000 tonnes for the concrete feet.
      So they’re about a factor of 3 off. Still a lot closer than I would have guessed!

      • David says:

        Whoops, I realised I forgot to multiply by Pi. That would make the mass of the cylinder of air about 8649 tonnes. So it’s true then! :)

  18. jacob says:

    do you people know if a helium or air football can be thrown farther because i’m doing a science fair project?

  19. Ethan says:

    Will a basketball filled with helium bounce higher than a basketball filled with air??

  20. bob says:

    u guys are retarded u guys hav no life get a girlfreind or sumthin u guys are stupid

  21. Anthony says:

    They introduced Hang Time but in the aired episode, they did not show any measurements of Hang Time. In this Myth, the hang-time is far more significant (than linear kick yardage) as with American Football when a ball is punted with a good high loft, it gives the punting team extra time to assemble downfield to defend against the Punt Return. The Mythbusters are my heroes … but they missed the ball on this Myth.

  22. john says:

    I agree with anthony on this one I just saw this episode and was expecting hang time to be tested yet distance was the only thing tested, if distance was the case u could try filling it with a heavier gas and attempt to test newtons law

  23. Arni says:

    A lighter football should have higher initial speed from the same kick but in your experiment the initial speeds were identical.

  24. Duncan says:

    You were testing the balls wrong. punting distance is important, but what is more important is the hang time (how long it stays in the air) to allow your team to get down and prevent a return. I would like you to revisit this myth and test which ball stays in the air longer.

  25. Brandon says:

    im going to do this for a huge science fair for a tech school and im doing helium, air, and nitrogen sick right. lets see what goes further.

  26. gyrhgytrejgf says:

    man nobody can catcha bullet with thier teeth and all u idiots are crazy
    The bee and the flower. Bees fly from flower to flower gathering nectar, which they make into food, benefiting the bees. When they land in a flower, the bees get some pollen on their hairy bodies, and when they land in the next flower, some of the pollen from the first one rubs off, pollinating* the plant. This benefits the plants. In this mutualistic relationship, the bees get to eat, and the flowering plants get to reproduce.

  27. camren hale says:

    Well I think the helium football myth was not busted because helium in a balloon will make a balloon float but compressed air will make it fall the the ground.Also helium is lighter than air.But I still like your show : )

  28. Dave H. says:

    This myth has its roots in the Steelers-Raiders rivalry of 40 years ago.
    Legendary Raiders punter Ray Guy was able to hang punts far higher than his peers, so rumors that he was kicking helium began circulating.

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