Episode 173: Walk a Straight Line

Air Date: October 12, 2011

It is impossible for a blindfolded person to travel in a straight line.


Adam and Jamie decided to test the myth by walking, swimming, and driving. They wore blackout goggles and noise-blocking headphones or earplugs, and used portable GPS devices to track their movements. The walking test, set in an open field, required each man to try to walk toward a target 3,000 ft (914 m) away; both ended up far off course and/or at the edge of the field. They then tried to swim directly across a lake and drive a golf cart straight down an abandoned airfield runway, also without success, and declared the myth confirmed.

For a real-world situation, they then decided to investigate the ability of a person to navigate a straight course if lost in the woods. With no landmarks or destination in view, they tried to follow separate headings for 30 minutes and succeeded by using the Sun’s position to stay on track. However, with buckets on their heads to simulate reduced visibility at night or in a snowstorm, Adam did poorly while Jamie stayed on track by carefully pacing around obstacles, drawing on his wilderness survival experience. Finally, they attached themselves to opposite ends of a long ladder with hip belts, thinking that each could feel the other’s veering and correct it, but failed the open-field walking test again.

A load of mixed binary explosive (tannerite) in a car trunk can detonate if the car is rear-ended.


At the bomb range, the Build Team set up jars of the two unmixed components, as well as an 8 oz (227 g) jar of the mixed tannerite. Tory fired at them with a high-powered sniper rifle; only the mixed jar exploded when hit. Doubling the sample size gave a larger blast, and shooting one jar in a stack of five created a chain reaction that set them all off. To simulate a freeway rear-end collision, the team half-buried a target car with its nose down and the protruding trunk packed with 50 lb (23 kg) of mixed tannerite. They dropped a second car on it from 150 ft (46 m), nose down, but the load did not explode on impact.

Declaring the myth busted at this point, the team traveled to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to use the on-site rocket sled apparatus. After setting off a 100 lb (45 kg) load of explosive to determine the appearance of the actual blast, they set a target car on the track, with the same size load, and fitted a pickup truck’s front end onto the sled. Enough rocket motors were attached to accelerate the sled to a top speed of 300 mph (483 km/h), but the impact only disintegrated the target car without triggering a detonation. A cloud of undetonated tannerite was visible sprayed in all directions by the force of the impact.

The tests suggested that tannerite is difficult to detonate unintentionally. Other binary explosives, however, are not necessarily as safe.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    I wonder if an Olympic swimmer could swim a straight line

  2. steve says:

    BIENARY EXPLOSION…the bullett made the explosion because it was expanding….i think , if you had eve5r made SOLID IMPACT…repeat…SOLID IMPACT , the results might have been different . you just had the explosive loose in the trunk , no way to forcefully impact…put the explosive in front of a steel plate on the rear bumper , and a steel plate on the front bumper of the other car for a SOLID IMPACT…no way for the explosive to move away from point of impact…c`mon guys , you are supposed to be brainiacs……

    • isaac says:

      yea but its not realistic to have explosives strapped to a bumper, your just looking for an explosion!

    • Pryz Fytr says:

      Steve, Tannerite requires a shock wave. A shock wave is NOT just a hard hit – it requires speed, as well. Strapping Tannerite to a bumper and having cars head-on hit at 100 mph will simply get powder all over the place.

    • Jeff says:

      I think the point of the experiment was to simulate real-world conditions of a rear-end car impact

    • mike says:

      I hate to burst your bubble but, tannerite is a very stable explosive even when mixed. Tannerite can take significant direct force without repercussion. You could drop amd anvil on it and ot would not explode. It takes a projectile traveling a MINIMUM 2200 fps to trigger it.

    • mike says:

      2000 fps cant be reached with a vehicle. duh

  3. JDH says:

    I wonder if a blind person would fare better walking straight.

  4. hayden bradley says:

    can you bulid a box that keep a pop cold its for since

    • RickyB says:


      • RickyB says:

        Did you mean to say this.
        Can you build a box that can keep a pop cold, it’s for science.

        If it is for your science class shouldn’t you figure it out yourself or ask questions based on what materials you are given to do the experiment.

  5. RodJ says:

    The myth related to being blindfolded. However, in the walking test Jamie and Adam wore earplugs. The myth did not say anything about muting your surrounding environment.

  6. bern says:

    Binary explosion: Could it be due to impact and heat? I noticed that all collisions didn’t have a running engine or a running exaust at the back..

    • Busted?? says:

      To be honest, this was what I was thinking. In order to initiate an explosion, the activation energy of the chemical reaction first needs to overcome. I’m thinking the initiation of the binary explosion may not have origated from the kinetic energy conversion of the crash, but from the engine of the car itself (possibly ontop of the energy of the crash as well?)

      • Troy says:

        Tannerite needs to be hit with a supersonic shockwave to detonate. It was designed as a reactive target for shooting, subsonic rounds, like many hanguns or a .22LR will not cause it to explode. A 3,000 fps bullet will initiate detonation in tannerite, as will a blasting cap.

  7. Michelle Borsheim says:

    Just wanted to say that our whole family is tired of the 3-2-1 countdown. you should spend your time showing more, like how you made the pneumatic stomping robot. Also HATE the “coming up” bit that shows a lot of the show so you end up repeating information.

  8. K says:

    But, it was a sunny day. Jamie could see his shadow, even if he couldn’t see the sun with a bucket on his head. Why didn’t they do this on a cloudy day? And how could Adam fail to watch his own shadow that badly?

    • lily says:

      Over the course of a day, your shadow changes position, based on the position of the sun. However, these changes are so slight that if you follow your shadow, you most likely will not notice it as you’re walking. This will impact your direction, forcing you to not travel in a completely straight line.

  9. Steve says:

    Binary Fender Bender was a bad day for two Ford Tauri. Was amasing watching it get split open like that!

  10. Thomas says:

    is it a myth that when a whip cracks it breaks the sound barrier

  11. thomas hisaw says:

    Mythbusters did an excellent job with the tannerite. But what, if anything, is under question, it’s the size of tannerite used. We have been unsuccessful in using mass quantities of tannerite in a single container for an explosion, however we were capable of blowing up the same quantity of tanerite in the pre required smaller individual containers with a simple 17hmr rifle with a bullet simply traveling at only 2500 feet per seconds, but could not be made at even 100 feet.

    In other words you may have been able to make it work by simply mixing only 8oz jars to make 100lbs. Please try again, it just might work.

  12. Busted?? says:

    In science, as a general rule of thumb, it’s unwise to use the word impossible. Just because two fumbling TV personalities (they’re not really conducting valid experiments) couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

    A typical example of following a straight line would be swimmers. In a typical training scenario, there is little to no turning in a ‘left-right’ sense of the word. In situations like these, I can attest from personal experience that you are able to close your eyes. Vision is only required under this situation for indications of the wall (flags and pool line included).

  13. dj thompson says:

    Hi, Dj Thompson here employee of tannerite. Answer:tannerite requires a velocity of 1250 feet per second center fire riffle round 223 or larger,pistol rounds will not initiate targets nor flame,friction or heat.

  14. Emir Alp says:

    Are there unlimited energy?

  15. yan says:

    You can make yourself gold

  16. David says:

    I dont know if this Dj Thompson really works for tannerite, BUT HE IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!!!!!!!!!!

    • dj thompson says:

      I sure do, me and daniel tanner….(now you know how the name was invented ..lol) are good friends and i finally started working for him after i spent more time at tannerite then at my day job. I own elite pyrotechnic and blasting so with my current background it was a great fit to join the tannerite team! Couldnt be working for a better boss!

  17. Paul Malley says:

    Binary Explosion.

    Try mixing with petrol( Gasoline)

    Amonium Nitrate + Diesel = Boom

  18. jim says:

    Maybe try crashing a supersonic jet into it.

  19. Jesse says:

    Binary explosives used by experts usually comes in bulk and mixed by weight. More aluminum power makes it more sensitive. The technician might loose track of the amounts and add to much causing the mix to be more sensitive. The mix is still stable but more sensitive.

Leave a Reply