Episode 194: Mini Myth Medley

Air Date: November 4, 2012

People can easily recognize the back of their own hands.


Adam and Jamie brought in 50 male and 50 female volunteers and took photos of the back of their right hands. 12 additional volunteers were blindfolded while their hands were photographed, then (while wearing gloves to prevent cheating) they were asked to identify their hand among a set of 9 other similar-looking hands. 11 out of 12 people identified their hand correctly, many of them very quickly.

Adam and Jamie also decided to see how well people could identify their palms and their teeth. Using the same methodology as above, 7 out of 12 people correctly identified their palms and 10 out of 12 people correctly identified their teeth.

It is possible to pierce, without shattering, a pane of glass by throwing a needle at it.


This myth was based on a video of a Shaolin monk performing this feat. The Build Team started by throwing large needles at a 1/8 inch (3.1 mm) thick window pane. Kari, Grant, and Tory – with throwing speeds of 28 mph (45 km/h), 38 mph (61 km/h), and 47 mph (76 km/h), respectively – could not pierce or break the glass. Next they brought in a professional baseball pitcher, Matt Cain, to help them. Matt Cain was able to throw the needles up to 113 mph (182 km/h), and despite bending the steel needles, he was only able to chip the 1/8 inch pane. To make the task easier, they switched to 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) thick glass. Again, despite shattering a steel needle, Matt Cain was not able to pierce the glass. Finally, they moved on to 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) thick glass and Matt Cain shattered it several times, but could not pierce it cleanly. At this point this myth was declared busted for humans.

To see if the feat was possible at all, Tori began used an air rifle to shoot the needles at 1/8 thick glass. His first two shots at roughly 140 mph (225 km/h) and 160 mph (257 km/h) were not effective, but a third shot at 180 mph (290 km/h) finally pierced the glass without shattering it.

It is impossible to ride a bicycle under water.


At a pool, Adam and Jamie both struggled to ride an unmodified bicycle under water because of the density of water and the lack of traction. Adding 50 lbs of weights helped slightly when riding downhill but they still could not ride uphill. They decided to modify their bikes further and have a race to see whose ideas worked the best. Adam filled his tires with corn syrup in an attempt to improve traction and he added 50 lbs of weight to the bike’s frame. Jamie, meanwhile, added lead training wheels weighing 140 lbs total to the front and back of his bike. Both Adam and Jamie still struggled greatly to ride their bikes uphill in order to complete the race. Despite their troubles, this myth was busted because they did find it possible to ride under water on flat ground.

Doing the “potty dance” helps alleviate the urge to urinate.


For a control test, Grant, Tori, and Kari began with empty bladders and each person drank 2 liters of water. They continued their normal daily activity and measured how long they could wait before urinating. Tory was able to last 1 hr 57 min; Grant, 1 hr 58 min; and Kari, 2 hr 40 min.

They repeated the procedure the next day, but this time attempted to dance and move around to help them combat the urge to pee. In this test, Tory lasted 1:31, Grant 1:51, and Kari 2:47.

On the third day, the procedure was again repeated and this time each person attempted to relax as much as possible both physically and mentally. Tory lasted 2:05, Grant 2:46, and Kari 2:43.

After noting that the results of each method can vary widely from person to person, the team called this myth plausible.


  1. Greg says:

    When they showed the teeth, I immediately thought of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

  2. Jack Williams says:

    Adam and Jamie busted the myth but, they did not explore all the possibilities. Had they weighted themselves they would have been able to ride the bike successfully with less weight.

    The boyancey factor of the human body is much greater than that of the bicycle. The way Adam and Jamie conducted the experiment their bodies were lifting the bike off the bottom of the pool. If they weighted themselves down their wieght would force the bike down and given them much greater traction.

  3. K says:

    The needle thing is entirely possible. Speaking from my own experience, one of the courses I took at Tsinghua University in China, is about “interesting experiments”. Our prof was inspired by some random Kungfu guy when the needle-glass performance was done in person and videotaped (and shown to us). Then he actually made the final project of that term to be “design a mechanical device which would fire a needle to pierce the glass without shattering it.”

    And we did it…some groups succeeded, some groups failed, but I can assure that none of the groups were firing at a speed even close to 100m/s.

    And the prof did the “final remark”. He said the point is not the speed of the needle, but rather the angle (which has to be realllly perpendicular). Also, the back end of the needle works better than the the tip.

    So the Shaolin monks likely didn’t have enough power to match an MLB pitcher, but they probably have better skill in keeping control of the needle due to long term practices.

    • Tom says:

      I have seen this trick done where one man pretends to throw a needle, and the other man quickly pastes a “hole” on the glass.

  4. Oliver says:


    And just googling takes you to countless people discussing, and eye-witnesses and people that knows that:


    I corrected it for you. How about doing your “It’s for science” a bit more truthfully, eh? Takes alot of training, but a shaolin munk is human and therefore possible.

  5. Stephen says:


    I agree with the prof’s “final remark”.
    Had to be hit like this —->| Perpendicular.

    As you also implied in your last sentence about keeping control of the needle, it takes YEARS of training to harness the body and most of all, the mind. Eventually some achieve the mental discipline to attempt this technique. Not all Shaolin monks can do it.

    I would like to add my 2 cents: The glass in the Mythbusters experiment is held in one place by a clamp. Did you see the glass in slow motion bending backwards as the needle hit? Now what happens if you clamp it on the top as well as the bottom? Most likely it will break the way the pitcher and Mythbusters threw…
    But most of the time when the Shoalin monks throws the needle, the glass is held by at least by two hands to prevent the glass from bending. The Exception is in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW_97D0hLBc
    However, the monk aimed closer to the clamp.

    Lastly, why can’t you Mythbusters ask a Shoalin monk to give a demonstration, or make the effort to find one and go there for a demonstration. I’m sure they will be willing to demonstrate for you, they are really nice people, you only have to ask them.

  6. walt willis says:


    Saw your carlos sniper scope shot and can tell you that you did not tell the truth.
    The scope he hit was a very short large dia model and not the type you use today.
    It hard to fine them anymore.
    Give a listen to my 31 minute story linked above and you will find it very hard to believe too. There are many things out there that defy logic that are still true.
    walt willis

  7. Cobadera says:

    Am I the only person that noticed the 100 random people for the back of hand myth slide their hands with the black seperator between index finger and middle finger, but the 12 people asked to identify their hands had their hand pictures taken with the black seperator between middle and fourth finger?

    • Kristie says:

      I noticed that! I would think that completely negates the results of the experiment – even if you’re blindfolded you can feel which two fingers the separator would have sat between. I cannot for the life of me work out why they chose to change that variable.

  8. John says:

    I agree with K and Stephen. Most of the needles they threw were at a horrible angle, especially the pitcher who was just chucking it. They really didn’t put any effort or thought into the experiment. Their reasoning at the end was ridiculous, ‘there must be a technique they used but we couldn’t do it so it’s busted’.

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