Episode 136: Mini Myth Mayhem

Air Date: December 28, 2009

A person can wet his hand and briefly dip it into molten lead without injury.

confirmed

Adam and Jamie did some research on the Leidenfrost effect, in which cool water vaporizing on a very hot surface generates a layer of vapor that temporarily insulates against high temperature. They melted some lead in a crucible and heated it to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, then dipped a raw, wet sausage; it emerged partially cooked and with some particles of lead adhering to it. After they raised the temperature to 850 degrees Fahrenheit, the sausage could be dipped and removed unscathed, since the lead was now hot enough not to solidify on contact. Finally, Adam and Jamie dipped their own fingers into the liquid – a pinky and an index for Jamie, four fingers at once for Adam – and brought them out unscathed.

It is possible to make a usable candle out of earwax.

busted

The Build Team collected wax from Tory’s ears and ignited it alongside paraffin and beeswax, two common materials used for candles. The earwax burned with some sparking and sputtering, whereupon the entire MythBusters crew and other volunteers were called in to provide more wax. When the team made this into a candle and lit it alongside a paraffin candle, the earwax candle burned very poorly and soon went out. They attributed this result to the fact that the material did not melt smoothly as did the paraffin, which could then easily travel up the wick to burn in the flame.

(This myth is based on a scene in the movie Shrek.)

Dipping a sleeping person’s hand in a bowl of warm water will cause him to “wet the bed” (urinate involuntarily).

busted

At the California Center for Sleep Disorders, Adam and Jamie set up a bed with a moisture-sensitive alarm. Each took a turn as a test subject, with the other ready to place the sleeper’s hand in the water once he had achieved a deep enough sleep. Jamie never reached that point, while Adam kept waking up due to his sleep apnea and ended up with his hands in an awkward position. Jamie was only able to pour the water over Adam’s hand, which soon woke him up without triggering the alarm. Crew member Matt Cordova was brought in for a third trial; five minutes after his hand was placed in the water, the alarm went off, but this was due only to water spilling out of the bowl.

It is possible to create impromptu gunpowder and use it to effectively fire a cannon made from a bamboo stalk.

busted

Grant and Tory collected the ingredients for gunpowder and began to mix them by hand in various ratios, testing them against industrial powder to find the best formulation. Meanwhile, Jessi bored out a thick bamboo stalk to use as a cannon barrel, which the Build Team wrapped with ropes to duplicate the episode more closely. They set up the cannon, with a Gorn target in front and Buster at the breech, and loaded it with ammunition and homemade powder. When they set the cannon off, the powder only burned without exploding; they achieved the same result with an actual cannon and the same powder. When they loaded the bamboo cannon with industrial powder and set it off, the resulting explosion destroyed the barrel and wrecked Buster, but the Gorn was undamaged. Finally, they built a second barrel out of bamboo, reinforced it, and fired it with the same charge, injuring Buster far worse than the Gorn and leading the team to declare the myth busted.

(This myth is based on the Star Trek episode Arena.)

A whole coconut can be sent by mail (USPS) without any packaging and arrive at its destination intact.

confirmed

Adam and Jamie addressed a coconut to themselves, stamped it, and put it in the mail. It later came back to the M5 workshop with no visible damage.

A strike-anywhere match can be lit by a bullet fired from a gun.

confirmed

Adam and Jamie set up a .45 caliber pistol and aimed it at a match head. After several shots that either missed the match or destroyed the head entirely, they were able to make the bullet lightly graze the match head and ignite it. They commented on the high degree of accuracy needed to make this shot.

63 Comments

  1. Chris Heinze says:

    at the end of the episopde of 137 who was the show in memory of — it was cut off to quick to read

  2. James says:

    I think it was to Erick Gates.

  3. Celina says:

    In episode 137 they tested the myth that if you put a sleeping person’s hand in a bowl of warm water, they will wet the bed… they BUSTED it because they tested it on themselves and couldn’t get the results, however, while growing up, my friends and I did this a few different times at slumber parties or at camp and it worked every time. So it made me question their tests…It works on unsuspecting little kids, maybe not on grown men who are anticipating it.

    • Jason k says:

      You were at a slumber party and were probably very young. Kids pee the bed regularly when younger. Coincidence? Hand in the water or not those kids were gunna piss themselves.

      • Cayla says:

        The hand in the bowl does work on older people. Not just little kids, I know this because my friend and I did this to her older sister a few times and she is 17. So this does work on some people but not all people.

      • liam says:

        “Growing up” doeant mean 4- she easily could have meant 10-14. I know that when i was young enough to wet the bed i would never have even heard of this much less thought to try!

    • bob says:

      i think they should do it again

  4. SC says:

    James – you are correct. This is what it said:

    In Memory of
    Erik Gates
    A true, honorary mythbuster
    1962 – 2009

  5. SuperSparky says:

    I think it’s time to add Jesse to the cast list on the site. Don’t you?

    Finally, a woman with engineering and mechanical skills on Mythbusters, not an art major who had to learn it on the show.

  6. Parker Cook-Weeks says:

    You should do this thing it is with 2 flat buses both of the buses going at each other but they are not going to hit each other they are going to hit a car and see if it splits

  7. Jason says:

    In episode 137 they tested the myth that if you put a sleeping person’s hand in a bowl of warm water, they will wet the bed… they BUSTED it my friends and i use to do this prank as well. We also did is as a form of hazing in the military. it worked for us as well. Ahh the fun times…

  8. Jtlog says:

    I have done the hand in water prank and it has worked many times.. I did it when I was a kid on other kids.. Does age have anything to do with bladder control?? I also did it with cold water on a 12yr old friend of mine when I was young.

  9. Mythstress X says:

    Hearnessing the power of burning ear wax… Ewww!!!

  10. Ashley says:

    I am a big fan of the Mythbusters but now i am seriously doubting them. Last week my brother went to a sleepover and his friends dip his hand in warm water and it worked!!!! he had truoble with it at school but he moved on. The mythbusters BUSTED it!!!!!

  11. JL says:

    I grow ever more wary of how the mythbusters choose to test a theory, and more importantly how they bust them. If there’s a claim that someone can do something, they assume they can do it too. They fail to properly test the ‘hand in water’ myth, and yet they still bust it. Why can’t they admit that their test sample was amazingly small and at minimum say ‘plausible for now’? They couldn’t try it on 2/3 of their subjects, so their valid test size was ONE adult male. Their refusal to keep trying until they got it to work (or they reach a fair sample size) indicates their over-eagerness to bust a myth. If they can’t manage to build a rocket to get to the moon, does that mean it’s impossible?

    • Patrick says:

      Hope you’ll still read this.

      In their defense, read the myth again. It says “will” not “can”. Therefore, a single failure will bust it. Similar results were found on the ‘banana’ myth. Sure you “can” slip on a banana, as I’m sure you “can” slip on sandpaper, but that doesn’t mean you “will”

      • Technically Skeptical says:

        While your observation concerning the specific verbiage may be technically correct, it’s logically weak. After all, very few (if any) people in their right mind would claim or believe that EVERY sleeping person in EVERY circumstance will ALWAYS wet the bed when their hand is dipped in water? Almost nothing can be proven to occur 100$ of the time in every situation, with the exception perhaps of the physical laws of nature, and sometimes not even then. There are lots of phenomenon that won’t necessarily occur 100/100 times, but does that mean that they are “false” or “busted” if the myth uses the word “will” instead of “can”? Is it a myth that “drinking cyanide will kill you” if ONE person manages to survive drinking cyanide? Of course not….and besides, I’ve seen shows where these guys make something happen ONCE, and they “confirm” the myth, rather than requiring it to be a 100% success rate.

        Bottom line in my view is that the show is lame precisely for this reason and related lameness…because their testing methods/conclusions are frequently ridiculously unscientific / subjective, ignoring traditional scientific methods/controls/objectivity in favor of methods that make for better t.v. or simple convenience / timeliness of reaching some sort of conclusion by the end of the show, however unscientific or reliable.

  12. HR says:

    Show BUSTED again!

    Wetting bed used by my youngest son on my oldest and a tied unsuspecting 14 year old WET the bed! Go to a Scout or Cadet camp and ask the seniors for names of who they’ve done this one to.

    Adam and Jamie professionals, just two guys with their own show!

    Wish they would just read what people say!

  13. Jo says:

    With all due respect SuperSparky, though I like Jesse, I don’t see how she has done anything MORE than Kari has done. She, Kari, has built things from the ground up and explained the science of things perfectly, so what’s the problem? They both could be on the show as far as I’m concerned, but I like Kari better …..

  14. Dray says:

    Just curious. Every one seems to have made someone wet the bed, but has anyone had it done to them? It never happened to me.

  15. edmond says:

    I’m surprised all the comments are about the bedwetting myth…

    for me, one of the biggest “wtf” moments ever was when they dipped their fingers in molten lead. I could not believe they were actually doing it, or that it’s possible at all to do that safey. You could not have paid me enough to do that one…

  16. Sophie says:

    i think i know y all the comments r about the bedwetting myth its because we.ve all been kids some of us still are i mean Im twelve and about to get off the computer to watch mythbusters

  17. Dray says:

    The reason I commented on the bedwetting thing is that although it never happened to me and I never did it, a bunch of people said they have done it to other kids, but could never prove it, even with me watching when I was in boy scouts. I have yet to find one case where it actually happened.
    Maybe the people who say they did it spilled the water too….

  18. Nicky Hansard says:

    Have you EVER heard of the hand in water myth working on anybody other than a young teenager or child? Just think about it… And who really cares if it works on them, they probably piss the bed anyway.

    • Kierin says:

      I’ve seen it work on a 17 y/o (I almost got punched in the face for it too the next day) and a 26 y/o, neither are bedwetters, and both went to bed sober, no drinking involved. It depends on bladder control, and sensory issues. Me personally, I’m 21 and when I do the dishes, the hot water makes me have to pee almost instantly, so it would probably work on me. The reason it doesn’t work on most people is most people use the bathroom before going to sleep therefore their bladders are already empty. This “busted” myth made me stop watching Mythbusters, find the right person and it works, doesn’t matter how old they are. The chances of it working are about 20-30% but it -does- work, not on everybody though.

  19. Chris says:

    I looked here to see more comments on the Leidenfrost effect. 850 degree F. molten lead and the ability to quickly submerge a finger or hand unscathed! They both looked pretty nervous to me, as they should.

  20. Wray says:

    A whole coconut can be sent by mail (USPS) without any packaging and arrive at its destination intact.

    1 can even be mailed from Hawaii to Canada.

  21. Seba says:

    The warm water myth works fine for kids under 15.
    But i think Jamie is a little bit too old for this “myth”.
    I “tested” this a lot of times with my “volunteer” (little brother)
    greets from GERMANY

  22. davi jordan says:

    Cold water works better than warm water to get someone to wet the bed.

  23. Stewart Howl says:

    On the “Dipping a sleeping person’s hand in a bowl of warm water will cause him to “wet the bed” (urinate involuntarily).” myth, you confirmed it as busted. I saw this happen whilst at university. It happened in about 5 seconds flat. The person was passed out drunk though after drinking all afternoon and evening to celebrate the last day of exams. It was very funny!

  24. Adriana & Joshua says:

    Can a strong gust of wind blow a cat away? If so how strong dose it have to be?

  25. Rob Arnold says:

    In the show about thermite and ice, what you were seeing was the results of what’s called the saturation temperature. This when water as a solid is transformed directly into a gas without turning into a liquid. The thermite burns hot enough to do this. I’m,among other things, a power engineer and work on boilers and I was taught about this in collage.

    • Josie says:

      Rob,

      You should go back to school. The act of a solid transforming directly to a liquid is called sublimation. You would have learned this in college, not collage which is a mashup of images.

      The Leidenfrost effect is a different principle than sublimation.

      • JLock says:

        Gas; solid to a gas.

    • Cedar says:

      A ‘power engineer’? ‘Collage’?

      • 'ropean says:

        well, maybe he is not a ‘murican power engineer.

  26. Alpha Cat says:

    I have multiple comments about this episode. First I am a Rigistered Polysomnographic Technologist(RPSGT) and a Coordinator for an accreditated Sleep-Wake Disorders Center by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine(AASM). My passion is to help people like you Adam and get you treatment before high risk problems can happen. Second I think everyone else is one the right track about. I believe you might have tried the wrong patients. Next time try younger healthier minds. I believe you will see a BIG difference! It would also be pretty cool to show the viewers the dramatic difference in how a childs’ brain works and why sleep is a NECESSITY to all of us.

  27. Dad says:

    Solid to gas with no intermediate liquid phase is sublimation. Ice can sublime in a vacuum. In principle the ice flashes to liquid water briefly then steam really fast.

  28. Tom says:

    Were the bed wetting tests performed with tired sleepers having full bladders? That could be the difference to confirming the myth!

  29. Mark H says:

    I know a 86 year old guy who used to rely on the leidenfrost effect when casting bronze to deflect molten bronze splatter off sweaty arms. He also when on the say molten aluminium is riskier as it “Sticks like jam”.

    Also Tory and Grant’s gunpowder recipe is missing an important couple of preparation steps.

    Great Show Mythbusters!

  30. Joe Blow says:

    The bed wetting myth: Maybe it works on SOME and not on others? I agree that testing it on 1 guy is that thourough. Some friends and I tried it on others in middle school camp and it never worked.

    On a side note I love the show, but it seems like they are getting off track some times. Although, cool, how is building a boat of duct tape a myth? I know there has been several more but I cant think of them at the moment. But there is so many real myths they could be testing.

    Can a motorized vehicle window really sever a limb? How about an on comming truck sever a limb hanging out a car window? Is it really impossible to eat or drink while hanging upside down? How about hiccup cures.. getting scared, breathing into a bag, holding your breath, does it cure them? Are dogs really color blind? Ohh there is so many.

  31. marko says:

    you all are missing the point with peeing in bed. Myth was: if you put ANYONE’S hand in water they will wet themselvs, like shown – it won’t. And about question about wind and a cat, show is called MYTHbusters, and it’s idea is to test myths, not everything that crosses our mind.

  32. jeremy says:

    i wouldnt say this is a myth but more of a question. how much force does it take to break the femer bone in the leg and is it possible to take a 25 foot fall out of a window, land on your feet and manage to run away in the case that your house is on fire and your only exit was a 25 foot fall?

  33. Gariandos says:

    The second one might me a slight possibility if you’re hammered. When you’re extremely drunk, the brain is less cautious about pain receivers. One guy was drunk on Vodka, fell from a 3 story building and landed on the ground with only cuts and bruises. He even did it a second time when the paramedics were coming and obviously they pretty much slapped him upside his head for even trying. And as for how much force a femur needs to break. 160 PSI is the breaking point of a healthy, normal femur but people who do contact sports likely have higher bone density and would require a much stronger hit.

    • Sean says:

      where did you get the figure 160 PSI from? I would really like to know as I can’t find a reliable source anywhere.

  34. Gariandos says:

    All in all though, I don’t recommend trying it, it’s best to have a fire extinguisher on hand during fires so if you can’t put the fires out, you can at least keep them at bay until help arrives.

  35. Pjk922 says:

    With the wet the bed one I think they didn’t do an accurate test. First of all they only left his hand in the water for 5 minutes. If they left it in for an hour or longer I believe the result would have been different. Also another viewer stated that they only tested it on one person. Hopefully well see this myth on a revisit

  36. Amy says:

    i dont think they did the test right eaither.

  37. discostu799 says:

    Just watching mini mayhem repeat, about burning ear wax. How can this be busted. What Tory and the gang have failed to test is Ogre Ear Wax.

    Ogre Ear Wax is chemically similar to beeswax and therefore is flammable and suitable as a candle. Myth Confirmed.

  38. james says:

    I was wandering if you guys could actually do a cool show that does not have something getting thrown or blown up.

    Thanks

    • Kal says:

      Second of all, Um… That’s part of what makes the show so great. xD The mixture of exploding stuff, and calm experiments, along with thorough testing. Most myths involve violence, anyway.

  39. Lynda says:

    My father sent my mother a coconut, husk and all, through the mail from the Phillippines in the early 1940′s when he was in the Navy. The label was stapled on. It was around the house for years.

  40. Kal says:

    Yeah. The hand in the water thing probably has a LOT of variables, age, bladder strength, etc, as well as how long it’s been since the last urination.

  41. Madelyn says:

    I do not agree with the “Busted” verdict with regards to the myth of dipping a sleeping person’s hand in warm water makes the person wet the bed.

    I can’t believe that you went to all the effort to go to a sleep center. Just go to any 8 year old girl’s slumber party and the myth will be proven by about 3:00 a.m. If that’s not possible, then a college dorm or a fraternity party!

    You should combine retesting this myth with the next myth when you get someone totally drunk. Once they pass out, dip their hand in the warm water. No sleep center, no brain monitors, just a passed out drunk and a glass of warm water. Keep this one low tech and you’ll find that your first round of testing was over complicated.

    • Denise says:

      Doesn’t count. When someone is wasted their capacity for urine control is diminished and they’d probably wet anyway. Same with children. The only way to really test it is with sober people with average to strong bladder control since the myth states ANYONE will wet themselves. Using snockered or weak bladdered people is cheating.

  42. joebob says:

    I have stamped a tortilla and addressed it and sent it through the mail in Texas. With all the new restrictions on mail I don’t know if they would still send them. The one that we nibbled into a rectangle arrived in much better condition than the round one though.

  43. konrad says:

    the myth of a loaded shotgun niedopałkami.prawdziwi dopalają smokers sometimes smoke cigarettes to the filter then the filter will be burned disk. I think that if he could that cause a fatal wound.

  44. Taylor says:

    I also question their tests because the bullet from a .45 calibur pistol would either destroy or miss the match every time unless it was the size of a 2×4.

    • Kaliden says:

      all it takes is for it to graze the match. A bullet from ANY gun would likely do it, this is because FRICTION will ignite the match.
      Don’t believe me? Press your hands together and rub them fast… feel the heat? Same principle but altered by the speed of the bullet and the heat it has from both being shot and friction with the air as it travels.

  45. Tom Reilly says:

    I know it has been awhile since this episode originally aired. And I only caught the end. But I was in the Navy on a small island in the Indian Ocean for Christmas 1978. I sent a dozen or so green (still had their external husk) coconuts out as Christmas cards to friends and family by just taping an address and postage on the outside. They all arrives in the States. The only bad part was that I paid postage by weight, and the coconuts were heavy when the left the island and had dried out (and were a fraction of their weight) by the time they arrived!

    Glad to hear it is still possible…love your show.

  46. Niko says:

    In my country if you mailed a coconut via our mail service, it would come back a bomb.

  47. Osaka says:

    MYTH BUSTED….. on one person who took a pee before he went to sleep. What kind of scientists are Adam and Jamie in this episode?

    I think they are just trying to provide a community service to all of the parents with children who might try this on their siblings or their own parents.

    THANK YOU ADAM and JAMIE !
    - from a parent with a rowdy child

  48. Thrand says:

    We have out new Video out on Youtube “Star Trek Gorn Cannon Mythbusters Busted” We confirmed Captain Kirk built the Gorn Cannon and injured the Gorn.

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