Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Ask The Mythbusters 1435

Posted by Zonk
from the she-blinded-me-with-science dept.
Who are the Mythbusters? Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are the hosts of a unique and popular television show on the Discovery cable channel. Working from a background in the special effects industry and shooting on location at effects warehouse M5 Industries, Jamie and Adam attempt to shed light on hearsay, rumour, and myth. Along the way they usually run across a little bit of science, too. Today, you have a chance to put questions to them. We'll take the 15 best questions and pass them on to the gentlemen to be answered sometime soon after the Thanksgiving holiday. One question per comment, please, and keep things topical. We'll post their responses as soon as we get them back, so ask away.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask The Mythbusters

Comments Filter:
  • by dslauson (914147) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @11:38AM (#14090662) Journal
    Dear Mythbusters-
    It seems like it must be tempting to definitively call a myth "busted", even though the reality is that you just couldn't duplicate the results. Whether something is fact or fiction, scientifically a myth probably shouldn't be considered "busted" unless you have empirically show it to be implausable.

    You guys generally do a good job of this, though on occasion I've seen an episode where you seemed a little premature. What can you say about where you draw the line, and do you feel like you generally do a good job of following the scientific method to get your results?

    Also, can you get me that redhead's phone number?
  • Re:upside down car (Score:3, Informative)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @11:39AM (#14090669) Homepage
    The answer is "true" according to the official F1 site.

    http://www.formula1.com/insight/technicalinfo/11/4 68.html [formula1.com]
  • Re:Favorites (Score:2, Informative)

    by stevey (64018) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @11:43AM (#14090750) Homepage

    I've only seen a few shows, but I like the way they look like they're always having fun and getting paid to goof off.

    By far the best episode I ever saw was the one where they showed a wine glass being shattered by the sound of somebodies voice; allegedly this was the first confirmed case of this being captured on camera, rather than being repeated as hearsay.

    (From memory they had to use an amplifier)

  • by hummassa (157160) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @11:49AM (#14090835) Homepage Journal
    This show aired (rerun) yesterday here. Jamie wasn't capable of breaking the glass even with the amplifier, but Adam did it. The guy (a pro singer) broke it easily with an amplifier, and also broke it w/o using the amplifier.
  • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @11:58AM (#14090964)
    She's not on the show anymore.

    She was on an episode of Monster Garage this season, though.
  • by hummassa (157160) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:00PM (#14091001) Homepage Journal
    And usually, they go in person into the "dangerous" stuff, like quicksand, inside a bathtub when someone drops a turned-on toaster in it. And don't forget Adam lost an eyebrow once :-)
  • Re:Bloopers! (Score:2, Informative)

    by DMC_DMC_DMC (814689) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:05PM (#14091064)
    See here for the bloopers: http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/vide ogalleries/videogalleries.html [discovery.com] Besides, thats what makes the show great, is that they leave most of the bloopers in.
  • by Andrewkov (140579) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:07PM (#14091087)
    Yep, here's the website of the guy that can break a crystal glass with his voice (without an amp). http://www.thevoiceconnection.com/ [thevoiceconnection.com] There's lessons and stuff there in case you're interested in singing.
  • by DMC_DMC_DMC (814689) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:11PM (#14091126)
    See here for some myths that didnt make it. Mythbuster video galleries [discovery.com]
  • by zanderredux (564003) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:11PM (#14091129)
    According to this [wikipedia.org]:
    Toward the end of season two, Scottie Chapman left the show so that she could both pursue her true passion: metal working and, in her words, "Have a life." She was replaced by Grant Imahara, friend and sometimes coworker of Jamie and Adam. Imahara is most famous as the certified operator of movie icon R2-D2 for Industrial Light and Magic.
  • Re:Favorites (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:17PM (#14091219)
    I've seen it done (breaking glass by voice) on dutch telly, some popular science show, years ago. Could have been the show 'daar vraag je me wat'. [Ach - who cares].
  • Re:Critique (Score:3, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:18PM (#14091236)
    It also very much depends on the coefficient of friction of the test car. By using a big old pickup that already has horrible airodynamics they severely lessened the penalty for having the windows open. In a modern car with low drag the penalty for having the windows open is substantially higher as a percentage change.
  • Sortof true (Score:3, Informative)

    by Esteanil (710082) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:21PM (#14091294) Homepage Journal
    Well, I remember watching a TV show from a Norwegian special forces (Marinejegere) training operation.
    They exited a submarine through a torpedo tube at very low depth (apx. 7 meters), using oxygen rebreathers to avoid bubbles. It was awesome to watch and absolutely invisible from the surface.
    So what I'd say is that *leaving* a submarine through a torpedo tube is possible, but being "shot out"? Well, as far as I know what "shoots" most torpedoes out is their own propulsion system.
  • Re:Favorites (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dasch (832632) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:24PM (#14091328)
    Actually, when the Mythbursters invited the MIT guys to San Francisco, MIT's death ray apparatus didn't successfully set a ship on fire.

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2005-10-22-de athray_x.htm [usatoday.com]
  • Re:upside down car (Score:4, Informative)

    by hackstraw (262471) * on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:31PM (#14091433)
    I heard that an F1 racing car has enough downdraft to drive upside down at speed. True or false?

    AFAIK, that is completely true. Or at least I saw it on some HD show and they said so. It seems completely possible. I just found here http://www.formula1.com/insight/technicalinfo/11/4 68.html [formula1.com]:

    A modern Formula One car is capable of developing 3.5 g lateral cornering force (three and a half times its own weight) thanks to aerodynamic downforce. That means that, theoretically, at high speeds they could drive upside down.

    That is pretty intense, but I don't see how 3.5 g of lateral force translates necessarily to downward force. Lets click on the second google hit. http://www.abc.net.au/science/k2/moments/s282081.h tm [abc.net.au]

    A Formula 1 car uses aerodynamics to generate, at full speed, a downforce of 2-and-a-half times its own weight, so that it'll stick to the road really well. At 160 km per hour, they're generating their own weight in downforce - so they could theoretically drive upside down on the roof of a tunnel.

    OK, 2.5 downward gs is enough.

    I need a more fun job. By those specs, these things are basically a better handling fighter jet that can't go quite as fast, but pretty damn fast.
  • Re:Favorites (Score:2, Informative)

    by saetaes (917135) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:33PM (#14091451)
    Um, actually, the MIT team went out to San Francisco on the Discovery Channel's dime, and failed to recreate their own results. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2 005/10/22/state/n121443D54.DTL [sfgate.com] You might want to reconsider the MythBuster's credibility...
  • Re:q: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Slayback (12197) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:33PM (#14091458)
    From Jamie on how the show together (he didn't pitch it)...
    Jamie: I was interviewed a while back about one of the above machines by our current producer. He had the idea for the show, approached me and there you go. I realized that I am a bit too serious and unanimated to carry a show, and recommended Adam and I work as a team. It turned out to be a good idea.

    Source - http://www.joe-mammy.com/pages/features/hyneman/hy neman-interview.htm [joe-mammy.com]
  • by dafz1 (604262) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:41PM (#14091565)
    In the test MythBusters did, they created a machine to fire the arrows following the human archer test, so that adjustments could be made to velocity, trajectory, etc. This was the device they used to put the tip of the broadhead against the nock of the arrow already in the target. As stated in my parent, all attempts at "splitting" arrow failed.

    The one arrow they were able to somewhat damage, the problem was the arrow split following the wood grain of the shaft. Since all wood arrows have wood grain, they conclude that even if there was a direct tip to nock impact, there wouldn't be a "perfect" split.

    Please watch Mythbusters Episode 36 "Killer Tissue Box", which will be re-broadcast Nov. 25, 2005 on the Discovery Channel @ 10am(EST). This is the episode that they "bust" this myth.
  • Previous interview (Score:5, Informative)

    by dimator (71399) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:45PM (#14091616) Homepage Journal
    It's too bad this chat transcript [discovery.com] was not linked in the story, because it covers a lot of the more common questions.

  • Re:Favorites (Score:5, Informative)

    by Manitcor (218753) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @12:48PM (#14091649) Homepage
    What your forgetting is the format of the show. First they take a myth and test it as closely as possible to the excat theme of the myth.

    In this case the myth was that Arcamedies had an army of soliders with highly polished shields. On command the soliders directed the sunlight at the advancing ships. And burned to dust an entire fleet. No not one boat, but an entire advancing fleet.

    This myth was quickly busted from the inital tests showing the diffcutly of having multiple people align thier mirrors in one spot.

    Next they tested the 2nd myth which was similar claiming that arcamedies had a device with mirrors mounted to it which he used to direct the sunlight. As both mythbusters and MIT discovered, while possible to ignite or create smoke on an ship you have serious issues with mirror alignment and the movement of the sun. While it may be probale that a device like this was in fact constructed and even probable that it was used and may have even torched or at least set to flame one ship (ignoring factors like wet hulls, and having ideal conditions). The chances of someone even today taking out an entire fleet of advancing ships which would likely be spread across miles of shore line is so unlikely that it borders on completly impossible if not impossible.

    Thus the myth was busted.

    Often times people tend to forget what the myth actually was by the time they are at the end of the show. This was a problem with the eariler shows and if you notice in later shows the format is changed up a bit where they re-hash and re-explain the myth as well as why it was busted. To prevent this very problem.
  • by multriha (206019) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:11PM (#14091921)
    The myth concerned arrows with wooden shafts. They covered the fact that hollow plastic and aluminum arrows were routinely split by hobbyists .
  • Re:Is it true? (Score:1, Informative)

    by loki1978 (532644) <loki1978de&googlemail,com> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:17PM (#14091971)
    Easy to answer, as my dad served on a mine seeker in a small fleet pack together with a sub and two destroyers with tubes and his own ship had tubes too.
    Leaving subs this way is actually a common thing for special forces all around the globe. Normally, as already mentioned in another answer, you open inside, the man crawls in, the hatch is closed, the tube is floated, the outer hatch opened and out you crawl. Not for the claustrophobic one.
    You can actually shoot the man out. The pressurized water that makes the torpedo leave the tube is too much under pressure for a man, but as the pressure has to be adjustable to different torpedos, warheads.....ergo weights, one can trick around. My dad says a skilled operator could back then shut down the pressure building at a right point. I doubt this would get much harder today.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:19PM (#14091986) Journal
    Well since you don't say what they concluded about the truck tailgate myth, I'll step in with what I've heard.

    My understanding is that when you keep the tailgate up it creates a high pressure bubble that forces the air over the bed of your truck. When the gate is down, the air swirls behind the cab and the resulting turbulence creates drag. The drag caused by the tailgate itself is less than the drag you'd have with no tailgate at all.

    Anywho, did they test the effects of having a hard/soft cover for the bed?
    Example picture [trucktrend.com] with the tailgate up.

    In the end, this is mostly mental a mental exercise for the /. crowd. I doubt even 1% of us drive a truck, much less anything with more than 500lbs towing capacity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:26PM (#14092051)
    There was a possible flaw in this experiment. The length of the exposed shaft is a variable they didn't test. The arrows the were shooting into had the majority of their shafts exposed.

    If the target arrows had been shot more deeply into the target, the exposed shaft would have been shorter and it may have been easier to cleanly split the exposed section of the arrow.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:35PM (#14092144)
    This is bull.

    I used to compete in archery tournaments; firing a traditional bow (longbow or recurve) without sights requires much, much practise.

    Since it takes so much time to walk back to the target for arrow recovery, I would quiver 30 arrows and shoot at the bottom of a plastic dixie cup taped to a burlap sack full of cotton batting.

    I *HATE* splitting arrows, as it takes time to make them.

    I, personally, have done this before many times; I have also achieved a "perfect split" a couple of times, but as I said it isn't a good thing.

    The mythbusters show sometimes falls far short due to underestimation and lack of repetition. How can it be scientific with so little verification?

    Who busts the mythbusters?

    Whatever...
  • by Fishstick (150821) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:36PM (#14092163) Journal
    Yep, that's exactly what they found.

    They also set up water tunnel with a model to try to visualize what was going on. Pretty interesting, and not what I would have expected.

    With the tailgate up, the flowing air (or oatmeal particles, in this case) forms a pressure bubble in the bed that causes the airflow to pass over the end of the truck, reducing drag. With the gate down, it wasn't so much that the air swirls and creates drag, but they saw that the airflow came over the cab and slammed down directly on the tailgage, causing the increased drag.
  • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:42PM (#14092228) Homepage
    Every so often they do a "Myths Revisited" episode, where they take into account user feedback about this very issue. In this case, they did determine that they had over-generalized, and in fact the data proved that at a certain speed it becomes more efficient to use AC. So this question is sort of answered already.
  • by Fishstick (150821) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:49PM (#14092288) Journal
    Well, remember you're talking about California.

    Among other things, they used a .50 cal, which I don't remember them specifically saying was illegal in California[1]. It was amazing how the bullet disintegrated in the water -- not what I expected

    Another show they had to get a friend from the FBI to supply tracer rounds because they were 'illegal' in California.

    [1]according to http://www.bradycampaign.org/legislation/state/vie wstate.php?st=ca [bradycampaign.org]


    California - State law restricts the sale of all semiautomatic assault weapons that have specific military features such as pistol grips and folding stocks as well as a list of assault weapons and their copies such as the AK47 and Uzi. People who owned such assault weapons prior to the law are required to register the weapons and may not sell or give them to anyone else in the state. State law also restricts the sale of rapid-fire ammunition magazines in excess of 10 rounds.

    California - State law restricts the sale of Saturday night specials or "junk" handguns. Handguns must meet two basic safety tests: a drop-safety test and a firing-performance test to prevent accidents. The drop-safety test ensures that handguns won't go off if dropped. The firing-performance test makes sure that handguns won't break apart with repeated use. But there is no restriction on the sale of small, snub-nosed handguns if they meet the two safety tests. In 2002, California strengthened the law to allow the state Department of Justice to "spot-check" handguns on sale in gun stores to make sure they met the standard and to increase DOJ oversight of the safety test procedures. Also see: Safety Standards.

  • Re:Injuries (Score:2, Informative)

    by 'nother poster (700681) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @02:25PM (#14092596)
    Been done. NASA did it with vacuum chambers in the 1950's. Well, actually, as I remember it they didn't use whole humans, just some appendages. Hands and arms I believe. There have been a few vacuum accidents while testing space suits and such. The victims claimed they felt their saliva boiling before they passed out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @02:49PM (#14092848)
    the grain in a wood arrow is not perfectly straight down the shaft, therefore a solid arrow will not split down the middle but rather follow the grain since after the initial cut with the arrow head, the shaft is actually being ripped apart(from having something big being pushed through it) and not being cut apart. maybe if they shot an arrow into a piece of bamboo it could split perfectly down the middle, but not a solid arrow made of wood.
    I sugggest you visit Jamestown's "Military through the Ages" military re-enactment event and talk to the people there who make their own arrows from scratch.

    A reasonable quality medieval arrow is straight-grained from end to end, those that are not are referred to as "modern pieces of shit".

    I have a crossbow bolt on my wall that is perfectly straight-grained, and has hand-applied split goose-feather vanes and a hand-forged iron pile head. The man who made it selected the wood while it was still part of a living tree, and seasoned it for over a year before shaping it. It is not particularly high quality compared to a real medieval quarrel, because the nock is just a slot sawn in the end (with a hand-forged saw, of course) instead of a fitted, hand-made horn or antler nock.

    If you hit this bolt directly in the nock, it would almost certainly split end-to-end, regardless of the oscillation of the incoming shaft, or the flexing of the impacted shaft. As you obviously already know, wood splits on the grain.

    I selected my jo and bo sticks for perfectly straight grain, too. And my axe-handles are all straight-grained, even though it's not really necessary in the hickory ones. Modern competition archers don't use wood shafts any more, so there is no longer a market for extremely high quality wooden arrows, so the "myth wankers" experiment is fatally flawed from the outset.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:14PM (#14093137)
    It's been done twice, actually, back in the first(?) season. They did the gold paint to Jamie, and got some weird results. When they did a "revisit" episode, it was Adam's turn for the paint.

    The aforementioned silver-painted Kari was the Tin Man/aluminum dust sickness myth from The Wizard of Oz.
  • Re:Computer myths? (Score:3, Informative)

    by el-spectre (668104) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:16PM (#14093162) Journal
    Shit, I did that with linux in '99 or so (no joke).

    Got this really cool, really bright white phosphor dot that took about a day to fade (despite the fact the monitor was unplugged).
  • by johnjaydk (584895) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @07:52PM (#14096394)
    It mess up the mobile networks within the phones reach and therefore generates a lot of flak (pun intended) towards the airlines if they allow mobile phone usage.
  • by fatboy (6851) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @09:06PM (#14096906)
    After doing research based on your post [gesta.or.kr], I see that the current required to cause detonation in this case is 1/2 an amp. The only way that much current could be induced on that cable is if the antenna came into direct contact with the wire.

    Seems to me they should install an inductor at the blasting cap to decouple RF from passing though it if such low current can cause detonation.

    I would not want to work around this stuff. From my calculations, these caps can be detonated with as little as 1 volt present across the blasting cap.

    However, I stand by my accertion that a cellphone could not cause detonation.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer

Working...