Episode 86: Superhero Hour

Air Date: August 29, 2007

Superheroes can use grappling hooks to quickly scale walls.

busted

To begin, Adam used a plain grappling hook and rope while Jamie had a special cannon that could shoot the hook 100 feet in the air. While it took several tries for Adam to throw the grappling hook over a 20 foot wall and gain purchase, Jamie managed to accomplish this task in one shot. They then attempted to scale the wall, but found that scaling a wall with just a grappling hook and rope was too difficult and time consuming. Adam and Jamie then began working on different parts of the popular grappling hook gadgets. Adam would build the gun what would deliver the grappling hook into the wall, while Jamie would build the winch that would allow the superhero to actually scale the wall. Jamie tested his hand held winch, which managed to pull him up 27 feet in just 20 seconds. Adam then tested his gun, which took numerous tries to find purchase in the wall. When Adam attempted to swing from the line, it instantly failed. Even with such mixed results, the Mythbusters agreed that a hand-held grappling hook device was too implausible.

A superhero can punch a person so hard, he can leave a scar that matches the imprint on his ring. This myth was based on the comic book superhero "The Phantom."

busted

First, the Build Team measured the force of their punches, and compared them to the punching strength of professional fighters. Grant then constructed a punching robot that could replicate these forces. Meanwhile, Tory constructed a ballistics gel fist while Kari designed the rings out of sterling silver. For the target, the Build Team obtained a human skull and stretched pig skin over it to simulate human skin. Punching the head with Tory’s level of strength caused some damage, but did not produce a ring-imprinted scar. The professional fighter’s level of strength produced similar results. The Build Team then used superhero level strength which crushed the skull. The Build Team concluded that a punch powerful enough to leave an imprint of their ring would most likely crush the victim’s skull, killing him.

A superhero can change into their costume while inside a phone booth.

confirmed

The Build Team took turns changing from street clothes into their superhero costumes while inside a phone booth. Kari was the fastest, changing in just 33 seconds while Tory was the slowest, taking over a minute to change.

A car can fire a grappling hook and use it to make sharp turns at high speeds.

busted

The Build Team converted the vehicle used in the earlier Knight Rider myth into a mock Batmobile dubbed the “Mythmobile”. They then built a nitrogen powered cannon portable enough to fit in the car and powerful enough to launch the steel grappling hook. They then tested how fast a car would need to go to make a manual turn impossible, which was about 30 miles per hour. While they were able to hook the grappling hook around the target, the cable always snapped when the car attempted to make the turn. They concluded that, while the other aspects of the myth are plausible, no rope or cable currently exists that is strong enough to withstand the force.

78 Comments

  1. Jim says:

    The superhero change in a phone booth was just plain dumb!

  2. The grappling hook is plausible. I am an avid off roader. We use military style tow straps that are far stronger than the steel cable you used to try and swing the car around. The steel cable, commonly found on winches, is a 12,000 pound test line and is frequently broken off road. Typical full size truck (say chevy k5 blazer) ways around 5,000 pounds when built, and when stuck can be suctioned far greater than that. A flexible 45 foot 4 ply strap tests to 45,000 pounds, while I believe 6 ply is about 60,000. It is much lighter than the steel cable, and much stronger. It also doesn’t store energy like steel so it won’t whip back. I have a source for these if you would like to test it. The also make synthetic winch rope with 26,500 (maybe more) pull strengths, weighing about a a 6th of that of equivalent steel cable and still no stored energy. Could easily be combined. The military tow strap weighs a little more than the synthetic rope, but can take 2 full size trucks backing up, flooring it, and yanking on a stuck car, when chains and cables would break. The tow straps are also still synthetic, and are much lighter, and more flexible.

    Please test the synthetic cable and the tow strap. They are more flexible, lighter, and stronger. Cables do exist to do what you are looking for, you just didn’t think to look in the right place :)

    Taylor
    EE
    University of Oklahoma

  3. Taylor says:

    Also the above post should say might be plausible… A camaro/trans am/firebird weighs around 3k pounds, and is going 30 miles an hour, how much force is being exerted? How much force would the rope need to handle? Seems physics could help here and determine the proper rope. I am still a student, so I will let you all decide.

    • Dean says:

      3000 lbs. moving 30 mph = 90,297 ft./lbs. of energy.

      • Jeff says:

        Also need to consider that the entire load will not be on the line. Vehicles tires will still contribute to lateral load mitigation.

  4. Carr says:

    A rope ascension machine is plausible and already exists. Here is an article about it
    http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/18204/?a=f
    and this is a video of said machine
    http://www.technologyreview.com/player/07/02/Atlas/1.aspx

    True, it is larger than the contraptions we see on TV, but that doesn’t outweigh its innovation.

    –Carr

  5. John says:

    Puget Sound Rope (www.psrope.com) makes a synthetic rope they call Plasma® 12 Strand rope. It comes in sizes from 0.04 inches (270 lb tensile strength) to 4.0 inches (1,520,000 lb tensile strength). Their 1.0 inch diameter rope has a tensile strength of 110,000 lbs while weighing only 0.23 lbs per foot. This is the type of thing a superhero would use.

  6. sam says:

    is changing in a phone booth a myth NNNNOOOOOOOOOOO what a waste of valuable time mythbusters that was stupid

  7. brickhead says:

    Hey! If the quick change was so dumb then they should leave it out of movies. Spiderman likes it, i.e. in Spiderman 2 when he took his spidy outfit off in a janitors closet packed full of mops and stuff. I think a few people still liked that movie.

  8. lil joe says:

    Hey guys, just found your show and wish i found it earlier. the episode i saw was the one where you try to smash a car with two semi trucks. I was thinking, why not attatch both cables to the back of one truck and have the two trucks pulling front to back. that way the two trucks would not be fighting for position and the cables would be pulled at the same speed and at the same time . think about it guys, i think that might work out the best and man to see that work would be awsome. take care guys. you rock.

  9. Dick Landgraff says:

    Scaling vertical surfaces with grappling hooks.

    Busted? Oh dear. I’m sure glad they didn’t tell that to the US Army Rangers on June 6 1944 D-Day when they scaled the cliffs of Utah and Omaha beaches. Using grappling hooks.

    • Steve says:

      Yes and all those ancient martial artists back in feudal Japan days. Wow, they would be soooo surprised that what they had been training for all there lived really didn’t work. You need to know you material and train and train and train to be able to execute, just as wielding a sword. Myth busters: Busted.

  10. vini says:

    the ring impression on the fasc is very plausable,ur ring didnt even hit the skin it was above it. how do i know? check police photos when we take pictures of domestic violence , u will see thanks

  11. Rick says:

    You placed a grapple hook in a car and shot it out te side to catch and make the car turn a corner at 30 mph. I was surprised that the grapple held. If the hook had been placed around the front tire, the car will turn. placing properly, will make a gentle turn. By placing the grapple behind the rear tire, it only held the car straight and will not turn.

  12. David says:

    They did not perform the Ring/face test properly. I have had the misfortune of being punched in the face by a guy who had a 1/2″ socket in his hand. I know it was a 1/2″ socket by measuring the bolt shaped gash in my face when I got home. My point is that you’d need to design the ring similarly to the face of a socket- narrow edges so it will slice in on impact. You’d ned a custom made ring specifically for the purpose.

  13. brent says:

    With the Mythmobile turning the corner. i noticed that the cable was attached to the back half of the vehicle, this would pull the back half of the car around the corner while leaving the front half to spin to the out side or toward your boxes. in order to over the come the outward pull the cable will have to be in the middle of the vehicle with about equal weight in front and behind the car. this will also decrease the need for a heavier cable.

  14. William says:

    I agree with brent here, the cable mechanism was definitely placed way off balance on the car to make any credible conclusion…Mythbusters your credibility is teetering on the virge of getting busted…

  15. Mike says:

    I have to agree with David about the Ring/Face test. When I was a kid I got hit in the head with a baseball, and had a visible scar of the baseball’s stitching on my forehead for years. If a baseball’s stitching can leave an imprint scar on someone’s forehead, then so can a ring.

  16. Logan says:

    I know a guy who actually used a grappling hook to scale a wall many years ago. He tied knots in the rope spaced a few feet apart so it was very easy to grip. I’m not saying it was a smooth accent, but it did work.

  17. philip says:

    with the ring leaving an impression the ring they made the skull was not raised it was below the surface of the metal seems kinda obvious if u have the skull extrudin out that it will leave mark then won’t it

  18. THOMAS says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF THESE SOUNDS ARE REAL, OR DOES EXTREAM HEAT CAN MAKE SCREAM LIKE SOUNDS

  19. THOMAS says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF THESE SOUNDS ARE REAL, OR CAN EXTREAM HEAT MAKE SCREAM LIKE SOUNDS

  20. Rob Mul says:

    The ring impression on the face from the superhero episode is plausible. While I didn’t take a photo of the injury to my forehead, the following description is so ludricrous that no one could in their sane mind could make it up!
    To avoid being struck by an object thrown at me while at work, I headbutted the control panel of a machine. The point of contact was a hex head screw, allen screw, cap screw whatever you want to call it, to the left side of my forehead. It left a perfect round imprint, even leaving a piece of flesh ‘floating’ in the centre where the hex key would be inserted into the screw. I had to have the centre removed and three stitches. Not a huge injury by any standards but it did leave a perfect imprint much to the other guys enjoyment. PLAUSIBLE!

    • Chris says:

      The ring impression wasn’t tested correctly. The ring they used was not of a kind that could leave a mark. The surface of the ring should have had an outher bevel not inner and it didn’t hit the skull right.

  21. SALLY ROGERS says:

    OH JOY I LOVED THE PHOTO BOOTH ONE

  22. LOVER says:

    I THINK IT WAS A WASTE OF TIME!!!!!!

  23. LOVER says:

    I AGREE WITH SAM
    :^

    • Dean says:

      I agree with Sally!

  24. Katherine Therese says:

    I seem to recall a murder/rape/assault or something, where an impression of the defendant’s class ring was found on the victim and helped convict him. Or was it an episode of Quincy?

  25. maricris r says:

    I do agree that the ring imprint scenario is not done properly. I think they missed the fact that the cause of ring imprints is due to bruising, i.e. the blood of the person who was punched had accumulated on the impact site (which can pool in shape of the object that caused it). I can’t think of anyway to replicate that same effect, unless they actually punch a live subject… a definite no-no in this show. Therefore, I vote to move this to a PLAUSIBLE result.

  26. Dougle says:

    A person i knew at youth club once heated a ring on a gas heater and after punching me (rather lightly) left a mark that stayed for around 24 hours. What fun it is to be a child.

    Also i would buy jamies winch if it were on the market! I want to be a superhero!

  27. larry says:

    this is the best show ever i have seen every episode since season. everyone on the cast and crew are the best. adam jamie grant tory kari are the greatest

  28. Roger (Qld, Australia) says:

    Loved the getting changed in the phone booth one. I notice omitted the additional hinderances of a phone and a shelf in there, as well as the phone ringing part way thru the changing process. Maybe you could have tries a few the gadgets of the late Don Adams as Maxwell Smart – Agent 86, like shooting someone across a small room, the person dies, but there’s no blood. You could try out the elevator in the phone booth trick.

  29. Enrico says:

    Hmm, I think the myth with the ring leaqving an impression is not based around just the impact of the ring, but some reagent on the ring as well. A form of mild acid would probably leave a lasting impression similar to a burn scar, as would a ring where the ring breaks the skin and is coated with some form of irritant. (Similar to the stuff used in scarification-body mods.)

  30. You'reAllWrong says:

    I’m particularly impressed by the fact that the one who likes to promote his intellectual credentials, Taylor, is too stupid to realise that this webpage isn’t anything to do with Jamie, Adam, or mythbusters itself, it’s just a (quite superb) fan site. And the “doesn’t store energy” that he repeats is just plain false. It either stores energy, or through some relativistic anomoly gains mass, as you are putting energy into it. In simple terms, U = (k.e^2)/2. Stop trying to appear smart when you don’t even have a knowledge of physics even to high school level. Read up on Young’s modulus and Hooke’s law.

    • to mr.smart man says:

      There is supposed to be a comma after “physics” in your last sentence, genius…

      • Cherri says:

        in what way does sloppy punctuation invalidate his point about physics.

  31. Christopher says:

    I would beg to differ with the grapple hook one. It is infact a prooven fact that a: they can shoot a grapple hook using a m16. And B: in many videos they show real people climbing with grapple hooks

    • sicness says:

      U & the other retards that have a problem with the grappling hook decision should watch it again. It had nothing to do with wether or not using a grappling hook works…its the effectiveness portrayed in movies the it questions, you yourself couldn’t fly over a wall as fast as batman, therefore its busted. Gg, you lose you r busted :)

  32. Rogue2099 says:

    Not 100% sure about the ring experiment as it was carried out on dead flesh. With not blood flow in the subjects body there would be no bruising or swelling so the way it was carried out would not work sadly there is now way to test this as it would really hurt or possibly kill any live subject.

  33. Jon says:

    The Ring of The Phantom; The ring doesn’t leave a scar on the face of the phantom’s victims. The contours of the scull is “painted” with juice from the berries of the “banga bush”, which leaves an imprint sort of like a tattoo on the skin. Not a scar.

    • MSpears says:

      Might be able to get a similar result from Henna, then. I don’t know.

  34. caleb says:

    When I saw the superhero episode, I was obsessed with batman’s gadgets. I thought of my own grappling hook which is a mixture between Jamie and Adam’s ones. I like myth busters, I think they’re great.

  35. K jet says:

    They should of used two of the thick rope not just one. Confirmed you can climb a wall with a grappling hook because i can and I’m 12 not an old man.

  36. crnijazo says:

    you cant say that ring is busted,in comics or wherewer they dont hit dead pig-it have to be live subject with blood so that skin can bruse

  37. clarissa says:

    Er. I think the point of the whole grappling hook thing was not to prove that you CANT scale a wall with a grappling hook but rather it is IMPRACTICAL for a superhero to scale a wall with a grappling hook due to time and effort.

  38. caleb says:

    In iron man, (the film), when he built his first version in the cave and the bad guys were firing at him, the bullets just bounced of him. Is that really possible?

    • MSpears says:

      I don’t know if it’s possible with modern firearms, unless his armor was somehow as tough as a tank’s armor (tanks are almost impervious to small arms fire) while still being light enough that he could actually move in it.

      However, in medieval times, “bulletproof” meant exactly that… the armorer would shoot a musket ball at the armor he had just built, and the dent was the proof that it had been “bullet proofed”.

  39. Ace says:

    For the Phantom testing the ring wasn’t made properly so it wouldn’t work right. When they made the ring the skull was pressed into it and sunken in, in the movie the ring had the skull sticking out so when he punched the “bad guys” it would leave the impression into the cheek.

  40. Jeremy says:

    I’m not convinced fully on your ‘super hero punch and ring scar’ result.

    I was in a head on collision when I was 19 and the steering wheel emblem was imprinted on my chest for 6 months (1976 Monte Carlo), just above the lower ribs. Granted this doesnt ‘prove’ the original idea, nor does it disprove it. But makes it a bit harder for me to believe that its’ all together impossible.

  41. Valerie says:

    Putting pig skin directly over a skull does not simulate the kind of damage that would occur if a punch with a ring were to smash a real face with subcutaneous layer of muscle and fat. The show punched the skull and tore the skin which would be expected with no inner layer to absorb or sustain the impact damage. Not that I need to see a pig punched, or anything but this is not busted and I am a vegetarian so leave the pig out of it!

  42. caleb says:

    It may seem impractical to scale a wall with a rope, but did you ever think that Batman is very fit.

  43. crow says:

    hi i just want to know the name of the electric motor you guys used for the hand held winch

  44. asherael says:

    The use of the human skull and irreverence with which it was treated was tasteless and inappropriate.

  45. Michael Lippert says:

    I think your ring print might be plausable. Check where the ring hit on the skull. It glanced off. I worked hospital security for California Corr- ectional Institution (Tehachapi,Ca.) and had an inmate that had been stomped on the side of the face by another inmate. He was left with the imprint of the shoe clearly visible the next day. I’ve seen the imprint of hard items last longer.

  46. Grappleguy says:

    My son is working on a project and wants to place a grappling hook on the front of a police car to shoot out, hook on the fleeing person’s car, so that the perp’s car can be reeled in. I figure I’d query this technically oriented audience for suggestions (where to look, how to do it, etc).
    Thanks.

  47. thomas l says:

    dose any one know where they got the moter for the hook?

  48. Qasker says:

    I was wondering what kind of motor jamie used to build his grappler and where you could get one?

  49. Ken (Wpg, Canada) says:

    In addition to changing the placement of the grappling hook attachment point on the car, I would like to bring up a novel idea to get around the snapping cable issue. Look at a fishing rod/reel/line. You have line stretch, rod bend, and drag. If you spread the shock of the car pulling the cable tight over even a tiny distance, the cable might survive. You could use a) a stretchy cable, b) give the cannon its own suspension, like rod bend, or c) implement some sort of drag system (although I would imagine this would be extremely difficult).

    • Michael says:

      Quite right Ken. I saw a repeat of this episode recently and again thought that they had missed the idea. A buffer of some sort should minimise the shock to the cable and allow it to pull more effectively. A spring loaded tube positioned laterally in the car should allow several feet of pull out to reduce the shock.

  50. J says:

    I would also like to know what motor was used or if anyone knows a motor of similar specifications.

  51. joe says:

    the ring myth is a low for myth busters. they are so distracted by getting getting their gollys smashing a human skull, that they dident even look in to the myth properly. the phantom ring leaves a mark via a tattoo or ink not scar.
    As other comments have pointed out the skull wasn’t even used properly (skin to thin, ring wrong design ect) so the science was crap, this episode was designed around smashing a human skull and the supposed ratings which some sicko thought would result.
    I hope the myth busters are haunted by this “Result”

    • MSpears says:

      I have to admit that this is one of the times that the Mythbusters “Did Not Do The Research” (as TVTropes would say)… even if they couldn’t find any of the Phantom comics, they could probably find an article on the Internet that would have explained the imprint was made by a plant much like Henna (which is used to make temporary tattoos).

      • Cherri says:

        Or looked at police photos of domestic violence as was mentioned above. if you can’t get your experiment to prove the same results maybe you should say that you’re myth busters team is ‘busted’. lazy self indulgent and a waste of time.

  52. Jay dammoron says:

    Obviously, scaling a wall with a grappling hook is no myth at all, but I believe what they were bothered by was speed and practicalness. Problem is they had trouble climbing at all. I have seen people climb ropes much faster. I’m very sure this is very feasible.

  53. Sasha Botak says:

    With respect to the phantom ring, I think back in the 80′s during my comic book days the scar was actually explained as a tattoo generated by using some rare amazon ink embedded in the ring.

  54. gazjb1 says:

    The mythbusters got it completely wrong with regards to the Ring Punch. I’ve been hit on the cheek twice while have a few fights and 1 ring actually was a skull. It left an almost prefect imprint on the skull and when it scabbed over you could even see it more clearly! The other ring was a souvering ring and that did exactly the same! Myth NOT Buster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. Ken says:

    I think the problem with the Ring IMprint test was that it wasnt done with living flesh. dead flesh wont react the same way. i can easily leave a tempoary imprint of a ring in my own skin simply by pressing it there (will fade in a minute or 2) so i think it is entirely plausable to leave something more lasting with a human strength punch

  56. Tim Lyon says:

    The Phantom’s Ring

    This myth is not yet done! The mark of the Phantom was a tattoo not a scar created by the force of the blow. The Phantom had two rings, one applying the skull mark on bad guys and the other applying his “good mark” on friends. He certainly didn’t apply his good mark on his friends by punching them really hard!

    Time to re-visit this myth I think.

  57. Paul says:

    That scull myth is confirmed by me.
    And they just tested it all wrong.
    You must have a living thing to create a scar or blackspot. if you leen on some object for a long time it also leaves a mark becouse the blood gets pressed away and that same thing happends with a punch in a REAL FACE or body part. your body needs time to get some new blood there.

  58. Silverstar says:

    Okay it seems to me that most of you are comic geeks, tip don’t show your comics to your girlfriends. All I care about is what that one way knot was called.

  59. KIP says:

    THE PUNCH TEST WOULD HAVE WORKED IF THEY HAD CONCENTRATED THEIR EFFORTS ON THE SPEED AND RECOIL OF THE PUNCH, NOT THE POWER. THEIR PUNCHES WERE MORE LIKE PUSHES .

  60. Dean says:

    Re: Superhero Ring Punch Mark.

    I didn’t read all of the responses on this aspect of the episode, so please forgive me if this has already been stated, but I never saw mention of one crutial component to creating a mark, in both the responses that I read, or on the show.
    Blood.
    A bruise (mark), is created due to blood coagulating outside of broken vessels, under the skin
    Unless you have blood flowing through your test subject, you cannot test for bruising.
    You can test for a scar, as that is caused (initially) by a tear in the skin.
    Thus, if the ring made such a deep impression upon impact, as to actually cut through the skin, then it can be assumed that a scar would result and that scar may be similar in shape to whatever it was that caused the tear in the first place, as long as the tear was in the shape of the object that impacted the person.
    If the tear is misshapen, compared to the shape of the object that struck the person, then the resulting scar will not have a similar shape to the object that struck the person.

  61. john says:

    where can i buy one of those mb skull rings?

  62. David M says:

    Where can I buy the fantastic motor that Jamie used to build the superhero winch that wound him up to the ceiling?

  63. L.N. says:

    Greetings from Finland and thanks for a GREAT show!
    Watched the Superhero Special on a Monday evening and enjoyed.
    You made a little mistake in the Phantom Ring myth: our hero uses a special tattoo ink in the ring, never hit baddies with bare ring.
    You have to test the myth again with tattoo ink.

  64. ANP says:

    I know this episode is quite old, but I’ve seen it a few times and have always wondered why Batman would bother with a grappling hook to get his Batmobile around a corner when he could just drift. Totally doable.

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