Air Date: April 26, 2008
In this episode, winners of Discovery’s “Young Scientist Challenge” competition tested environmental myths with the MythBusters team.
Do greenhouse gases really increase the amount of heat absorbed by air?
Airtight containers containing added carbon dioxide or methane measured one degree centigrade hotter than containers with normal air after being heated by a hot lamp.
Are electric cars more sluggish than gasoline-powered cars?
Adam, Jaime, and Brandon (a Young Scientist Challenge winner) built and electric go-kart using lithium iron phosphate batteries and tested it against a gas go-kart. Despite weighing twice as much as the gas go-kart, the electric go-kart performed equivalently. Then they went to a professional track and watched the KillaCycle, an electric drag motorcycle, race against a stock gas motorcycle. The gas motorcycle won by a slight margin. Next the MythBusters had an X1 electric sports car race against an F430 Ferrari, and while the Ferrari’s top speed was faster, the electric car accelerated faster and won in a drag race. Finally, they had electric X1 race against a FJR50 Forumla 3 race car. While the Formula 3 car easily beat the electric car, the electric car is considered a “street car”, not a race car, and it did well enough that they proclaimed electric cars to be anything but slow.
Do cows emit greenhouse gases that could potentially damage the environment?
Cows themselves emit methane (mostly from belching, rather than flatulence) and their feces emit a significant amount of methane while rotting. Because there are so many cows, this methane contributes significantly to the amount of methane in Earth’s atmosphere.
Can cow manure be used to help the environment?
The methane emitted from cow manure can be used to power combustion engines. The Young Scientists helped to collect cow manure and extract methane gas from it. Grant was able to use the methane gas to power a hand lawnmower. Also, the farm where they had collected cow manure from created 90% of its electricity from its own manure-powered generator.