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Episode 101: "Alaska Special"

Air Date: April 30, 2008

If a dog retrieves a stick of dynamite thrown onto a frozen lake and gets underneath an SUV, the dynamite will blow a hole in the ice that will cause the SUV to sink.

busted

To test this myth, Adam and Jamie went to Fischer Pond in Alaska. The dog consistently retrieved and brought back the object thrown onto the frozen lake, at about the same speed each time. However, when a stick of dynamite was detonated under an SUV, it did next to nothing. It took 24 pounds of dynamite packed into high-density directional cones to blow a hole large enough to sink the SUV.

"Cabin fever" is real.

plausible

To test this myth, Adam and Jamie were locked inside separate cabins in Alaska, with no entertainment at all. Both regularly took cognitive tests (to measure mental capacity) and saliva tests (to measure stress.) However, the results of the cognitive tests were too consistent, and the saliva tests were rendered worthless by the fact that Adam and Jamie frequently ate and drank beforehand. However, Adam exhibited all four common symptoms of cabin fever (irritability, forgetfulness, angry eyes, and excessive sleeping) and Jamie exhibited one (excessive sleeping).

If you are going to hit a moose with a vehicle, it is safer to hit it at a higher speed than to try to slow down.

busted

The Build Team ran identical cars into a fake rubber moose at two different speeds. The damage from the high speed impact was located higher up on the vehicle and was more severe. It was speculated that hitting a moose at a high speed would only work with a very low car such as an F1 race car. Such a car would be able to take out the legs and clear the area before the moose fell on top of it.

10 Comments

Episode 100: "MacGyver Special"

Air Date: February 20, 2008

A person can blow a hole in a wall with elemental sodium and water.

busted

The Mythbusters placed sodium in a gel capsule, placed it in a bottle full of warm water, and put the bottle against a cinder block wall. However, the explosion from one gram of sodium was not powerful enough to damage the wall, and one hundred grams of sodium was also not enough. The Mythbusters then used the more reactive potassium, but still failed to cause any damage. The Mythbusters finally resorted to using C4 explosive to demolish the wall.

A person can make a working two-seater ultralight plane out of makeshift materials.

busted

Taking footage from the show, the Build Team built an ultralight plane out of bamboo, duct tape, trash bags, and a cement mixer engine. The show depicted the plane MacGyver built as not being powerful enough to achieve flight on its own, but being able to sustain powered flight after taxiing off of a cliff. With their plane complete, the Build Team added remote controls and took the plane to a quarry that had flat, level ground and a 150 foot cliff. While they demonstrated that the plane’s engine had enough power to move the plane, it wasn’t enough to sustain flight and the plane plummeted straight to the ground.

In the following scenarios, Adam and Jamie decided to test their skills. Rather than testing the plausibility of these events, they were comparing their own ingenuity to MacGyver’s.

Pick a lock using light bulb filaments.

pass

While the show had MacGyver picking the lock in just 52 seconds, it took the MythBusters a little over 50 minutes to pick the lock.

Develop film with ordinary household chemicals like ammonia and orange juice.

fail

Both Adam and Jamie were placed in a room that had multiple household chemicals that included the necessary ones to develop photos. While Adam did have some experience in developing photos and could remember the necessary ingredients, he could not remember the exact process and the MythBusters were unable to develop the photos within the given time limit.

Create a makeshift magnetic compass.

pass

Adam and Jamie built a makeshift electromagnet by wrapping wire around a metal screw and connecting it to some batteries. They then used the electromagnet to magnetize a paper clip, put the paper clip in a cork, and floated the cork in a cup of water to create a compass. While it wasn’t perfect, it was good enough to direct the MythBusters to their next objective.

Create a makeshift device that can go 100 feet into the air and attract the attention of a passing helicopter.

pass

Using typical camping gear, the MythBusters were left to create rescue signal. Tory and Grant originally intended for Adam and Jamie to build a potato cannon and left the requisite materials, but the MythBusters had different ideas. They used a tarp, PVC pipe, and a rope to create a large kite and were able to get it to fly at a height of 100 feet just as the helicopter passed by.

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Episode 99: "Viewers’ Choice Special 2"

Air Date: February 13, 2008

It is possible to cut down a tree with a machine gun.

confirmed

The build team obtained large pine tree trunks and set them up in the Mojave Desert. The trees were shot at using a Thompson submachine gun and a M249 SAW, but they remained standing. The .45 bullets were too slow and inaccurate, and the 5.56mm NATO rounds didn’t cause enough damage to fell the tree. However, when Kari used a M134D minigun that fired 7.62mm NATO at 50 rounds per second, the pine trunk fell down within a minute. A much denser mesquite tree was also cut in short order.

The reason baseball players wear black markings under their eyes is to help reduce glare from the sun.

plausible

Adam and Jamie put black eye paint under their eyes and took an eye exam, then repeated it with lighter, peach colored eye paint. Their scores were the same each time. Adam then set up a light meter in a dummy’s eye and recorded the lux reading in the eye with and without the paint, but the results weren’t significantly different. Adam then put a baseball cap on the dummy and repeated the experiment, and noticed that with the black eye paint on, the lux reading significantly dropped.

It is possible to escape a ski lift by sliding down the cable using one’s pants to create a zip line.

busted

The build team went to a circus training center and tried to slide down a wire similar to the ones used in ski lifts while hanging onto pants. Tori barely moved, and the pants began to rip apart. Later, the build team tried it on a real ski lift and the friction was still too great. Buster gained no momentum at all and the pants eventually ripped.

A black powder fire can follow a trail of powder from a leaking barrel and travel up into the barrel, much like a cartoon.

plausible

Adam and Jamie first confirmed that a black powder trail will burn fully if ignited at one end. Later, they set up a robot to carried a leaking barrel, but when the ignited trail reached the robot it did not continue up the falling powder and into the barrel. It was only when they increased the size of the hole and had the barrel shaking that the ignition followed into the barrel.

One can unlock a car door by having its remote unlocker frequency transmitted though a cell phone call.

busted

All attempts to unlock the car door via a cell phone call failed. In addition, Grant explained that car unlockers and cell phones operate on completely different frequencies.

23 Comments