Episode 131: Myth Evolution

Air Date: November 18, 2009

An exploding water heater can shoot up about 500 feet (150 m) in the air at around 300 miles per hour (480 km/h).


The MythBusters did this test after some viewers doubted their estimates in the original exploding water heater myth. They set up a full sized 52 US gallon (200 L) water heater and removed all safety mechanisms and covered it with blankets to speed up heating. After the eventual explosion, Adam used high speed footage to reveal that the unobstructed water heater shot up 560 feet (170 m) at a speed of 350 miles per hour (560 km/h), which was near their estimates in their original test.

A water heater can explode like a rocket and shoot through the roof of a two-story house.


The MythBusters set up a three-tier scaffold to simulate a two-story house. The lowest level housed the 52 US gallon (200 L) water heater, second level contained a simulated living room, and on top was a roof built to standard California building codes. The resulting explosion from the water heater did cause it to shoot through the living room floor and the roof. It was deemed plausible because, unlike the original myth, researchers did not uncover any documented events of water heater explosions in two-story houses.

A device exists that can shoot bullets around right angle corners.


The device does exist; kari used the device, called the “CornerShot”, to successfully shoot a target positioned around a corner.

From around a corner, it is possible to fire a gun and hit a target while only the gun is exposed.


Because Grant could not see the target, all of his shots missed.

From around a corner, it is possible to fire a gun and hit a target by jumping out of the corner and shooting at the target while airborne.


Tory hit the target using this technique and landed on a mattress that had been placed to break his fall. However, chances of doing this in a real-world setting (i.e. no mattress on which to land and the target shooting back) are slim.

A person can hold onto the roof of a car, with the windows up, while the car crashes through a wall of cardboard boxes.


Jamie stayed on the top of the car, even though he let go seconds before the car crashed through the wall. It should be noted that some boxes were hit by the front end of the rig and only one box directly hit him.

A person can hold onto the hood of a car while the car crashes through a wall of cardboard boxes.


Adam stayed on the car despite feeling what he described was a force acting on his feet from the boxes. Upon closer inspection of the high speed footage, Adam actually let go of his grip on the hood and slid up the windshield. He then regained his grip on the hood just as he was about to fall off the car. Since the loss of his grip happened so fast for anyone to notice, this myth was deemed confirmed.

A padlock soaked in liquid nitrogen is easier to break than a padlock at room temperature.


It took Tory four seconds using a hammer and crowbar to break a padlock at room temperature. After a second lock was sprayed with liquid nitrogen for five minutes, he was able to break it in one hit. The Build Team then tested a door locked with a deadbolt; Tory required over five minutes to smash it at room temperature, but less than two minutes after it had been frozen. Grant pointed out that the method would require so many people, and so much time and specialized equipment, that it would not be a practical or stealthy way of breaking into a building. Nevertheless, the team declared the myth confirmed.

A V-shaped snowplow is capable of perfectly bifurcating a car in a head-on collision, while the driver and the passenger both escape unharmed.


A wedge entirely made of steel was made and then installed onto a rocket sled to represent the snowplow. The surrogate snowplow traveled a total distance of 770 feet (230 m) and struck the car at a speed of 550 miles per hour (890 km/h), completely splitting it along its length with a thrust of 7,500 pounds (3,400 N). Afterwards, the wedge disintegrated when the rocket sled slammed into a concrete barrier behind the car. The Build Team still regarded the myth as busted because an average motorist is highly unlikely to encounter a snowplow traveling with enough speed to destroy a car in this manner.


  1. Ben says:

    I was a little disappointed with this episode because most of the myths were revisits of old myths. There are tons of interesting suggestions on the discovery website. Surely some of the more original and creative ones are worth trying out.

  2. Paul Malley says:

    Firing a bullet round a corner.

    I believe during ww2 german tank crews had a rifle with a bend in the barrel.
    They could poke it out of the side or their tank
    and use it to shoot anybody who was trying to creep up on them.

    • adam loyd says:

      Yes they did have a Bent barrel to shoot behind them. It was due to a major design flaw in the tank in question it had no back facing portholes which to see. So a soldier could easily walk” stroll”up behind the tank and lay a couple charges and bye bye. They even went as far as just bending the barrel with a press and taping mirrors to the end so to even see behind them. It was effective at a very short range though because the bullet rounding the corner of the barrel ripped the bullet apart and threw more like a snack shoot gun pattern. The tank was modified rather quickly after realizing the major design flaw with back door and port holes which to aim cocorrectly and shoot. Either way ineffective because they lost.

  3. Steven says:

    The water heater thing is true. When I was a kid, one of my fathers friends, Parker Brown had his house TOTALED when the water heater exploded due to a faulty escape valve and a stuck thermostat. I saw the house and it was completely demolished. The actual tank of the water heater was in a yard !/4 of a mile away and almost took out a boat on a trailer.

  4. Mareeca franco says:

    when u couldn’t figur out the disipering bullet why don’t u make an air soft gun and make it as strong as the gun that shot the person!!!!!

  5. Logak says:

    Ben: You realize that most if not all these revisits are fan suggestions as well? People wanted to see these. Don’t get antsy, they do lots of episodes in a season and most of them are new myths.

  6. Jordan says:

    I had a problem with the way they tested the car cling with the boxes. It’s pretty easy to see, especially with Jamie’s run, that when Adam drove through the boxes, they all got stuck to the front end of the safety rig jutting out in front, which meant that they didn’t even touch Jamie.

    Now, I know why they needed the safety rig, and I concede that some of you may argue that it’s more about the fear of crashing through something heavy than of the damage you’d probably take, but I disagree. If those boxes had been filled with something heavy and cumbersome, it could knock the hanger in such a way that he lets go of the car.

  7. Stephen says:

    “From around a corner, it is possible to fire a gun and hit a target while only the gun is exposed.”

    This tactic is know a suppressive fire… it does not need to hit the target, but to suppress the target… keep it occupied while your team mates go for the target.

    if you score a hit, well done!

  8. Andrew says:

    One point missed is the water heater was only 80% full which allowed the explosion. Normally tank would split with less energy due to thermal expansion. You need three failures, thermostat, pressure relief and incoming water flow to cause this explosion. Poor effort, this should have been pointed out.

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