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MythBusters - Who Ya Gonna Call? 92

An anonymous reader writes "The currently-airing Discovery Channel show MythBusters has been profiled in a Newsweek article. Basically, the show takes two former Hollywood effects designers as they set out to prove or disprove various folklore myths that have come about over the years, such as the actual effect of a poppy-seed bagel on a drug test, or what effect a penny dropped from the Empire State Building observation deck will have on a human at ground level."
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MythBusters - Who Ya Gonna Call?

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  • I've watched this show several times and I can't wait to see the one about the penny dropped off the skyscraper. I sent them an email, though, and asked them to answer these if they ever get around to it:

    • Do you get wetter running or walking in the rain?
    • Just how dangerous is it to answer the call of nature on the electrified third rail of a train track?
    • Is cola really able to remove bloodstains and clean rust?
    • by Zack ( 44 )
      They did do the Cola and bloodstains and rust... turns out it was marginally better than water at cleaning blood, but it cleaned the chrome on a car better than the chrome cleaner product that they had! Very cool show.

    • They conditionally busted the third rail urination myth. IIRC, in order to effectively electrocute yourself, you'd have to keep a solid stream, barefoot, in a puddle of water.

      It's a great show. Last week's had the walrus mustachioed guy wearing nothing but a beret and a pair of flimsy gold hot pants refusing to put a thermometer up his ass.

      They're in San Francisco.
      • In CKY4, Bam Magera and Raab Himself of CKY/Jackass fame tested that if you piss on an electric fence, it *really* does electrocute your frank and beans. It hurt Raab so much that he rolls around naked in snow for a while due to the shock/pain. All in the name of science! You can also find out what happens when you try to take a dump while running at full speed (to prove a George Carlin monologue wrong) in CKY2K

        You can buy the DVD here []

        • True story. Boy Scout campout on the back property of a dairy farm when I was a teen. Kid walks over and pees on a bush. Electric fence runs THROUGH the bush. The rest of us were only about 15 feet away. In very halting screams he yells "AAHHHHH...CAN'T....STOP....CAN'T... STOP.....AAHHHHHH!!!" He pretty much stood there getting zapped until he lost pressure. I should be more sympathetic, but I laugh every time I think about it because we all looked at each other and thought the same thing. Karma. (Believe
      • The Straight Dope [] on third-rail urination. Evidently, it's happened at least once.
    • they've done at least the second and third items you've listed. they also did the penny drop some weeks back. as for when you get wet more, i dont recall that one, though it may have been the week I missed since another poster listed it as one the myths they've tested. (for the results, wait for the re-runs or let some lamer spoil it for you)
    • you do not get any wetter running in the rain rather than walking. They proved this on a British TV science show a few years back by making a group of (volunteer) kids either walk across the school yard or run whilst wearing cotton t-shirts. As it was in England it was of course raining.

      At the end of the trip they weighed all of the shirts and there was no difference.

      As for urinating on the third rail, at your own risk !! I would not like to try as the third rail here in Budapest is at 6,000 volts.

      Ed Alm


    • Just how dangerous is it to answer the call of nature on the electrified third rail of a train track?
      I sure hope it's leathal. Anyone stupid enough to pee on a electrified rail should be removed from the gene pool.
  • Glad to see them get press.

    Might not be the best, or most factual show on TV, but it's sure entertaining.

  • Busted? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Godeke ( 32895 ) * on Monday November 17, 2003 @04:27PM (#7495715)
    I wonder if there is any way of "busting" urban myths. Even after I send people to various urban legend sites to combat the more annoying email variety, it seems some people are just credulous or just want a good story to tell. I suspect that the reality of it is irrelevant, and busted or not, the same stories with be with us for a very long time.
    • Re:Busted? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BrynM ( 217883 ) *
      I suspect that the reality of it is irrelevant, and busted or not, the same stories with be with us for a very long time.
      Ah, but now there's the additional story to tell: How a pair of wackos proved or disproved the old story. I don't think that they're killing the stories off as much as they are enhancing them. Maybe even assuring that some will be with us even longer, now that they are proven fact (bagel anyone?).
    • Re:Busted? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem is some of the "urban myth dispelling" sites are themselves unreliable or have agendas - e.g. has a distinctly anti-european bias. Ring-a-ring-a-rosies, at least with the original British lyrics does indeed refer to the plague. Primary historical sources back that up, yet snopes refuses to acknowledge it.

  • by weeboo0104 ( 644849 ) on Monday November 17, 2003 @04:28PM (#7495720) Journal
    They will explore whether or not a webserver can melt as a result of something called "The Slashdot effect".
  • Maybe... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <<gsarnold> <at> <>> on Monday November 17, 2003 @04:32PM (#7495746) Homepage Journal

    Maybe when they get done debunkning all of the ULs you can find on Snopes, they can turn their crosshairs on huckster quackery such as cell-phone radiation shield stickers, magnet therapy bracelets and all the other crap that shows up on late-night infomercials.

    THAT'S what I'd do to improve humanity.
    • Man, if you haven't tested your blood for ACIDITY you better get on the CORAL CALCIUM fast buddy...
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:2, Informative)

      Penn and Teller did "Bullshit" to bust open some of those kinds of things. I'd send you a URL, but refuses to serve pages to those of us outside the US for some reason.

    • Re:Maybe... (Score:3, Interesting)

      The Amazing Randi [], along with Penn and Teller and a host of other illusionists, have actually has done a couple of shows debunking certain quackeries and paranormal happenings.

      They mostly focus on psychic tricks and illusions-- showing tricks on how it is to get information on your dead relatives, by using selective questions and special wording, watching for you to react to certain words, etc.

      Their philosophy is that it's OK when everyone involved knows that the trick is for entertainment. The line is cr
      • Of course "the amazing" Randi is one of the most dogmatically rude materialists I can imagine. I am entirely in support of debunking people who are making money taking advantage of the credulous, but he goes much farther over the line and will basically rudely denounce anyone making any claim that he hasn't personally verified. He has one of the most closed minds imaginable. If there were some way, for example, to counteract gravity that were to be discovered, he would be the last one to acknowledge that
        • Re:Maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

          Not to defend that sort of behavior, but he's gotten enough of that sort of stuff hurled at him from con artists that over the decades he probably sees it as "sauce for the goose".

          • Re:Maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

            by elmegil ( 12001 )
            I suppose. It doesn't seem to me that one does much good for a reputation as a skeptic by being dogmatic though. The point of skepticism is "prove it" not "that's impossible".
            • In reading his site, though, I don't see that attitude. He pretty clearly has a "prove it" attitude, or else his million dollar prize doesn't make any sense. The worst I've seen is that he has no compunction about pointing out pretty clearly that past failures are, in fact, failures. He'll often suggest theories on what's going on (e.g., he'll point out that so-called psychics use cold-reading techniques), but I don't see a "that's impossible" attitude.

              One thing charlatans don't like about him is that h

        • Re:Maybe... (Score:4, Funny)

          by Noren ( 605012 ) on Monday November 17, 2003 @09:39PM (#7498567)
          No, he'd just demand that pesky 'evidence' that snake oil peddlers worldwide have so much trouble coming up with. The nerve of him, to actually expect people making wild claims to substantiate them! It's ever so much easier to lie to people if you're never asked for, you know, evidence.

          I'm quite in favor of debunking the likes of John "the biggest douchebag in the universe" Edward.

  • My favorite show (Score:5, Informative)

    by develop ( 88564 ) on Monday November 17, 2003 @04:32PM (#7495752) Journal
    It's one of my favorite shows. Three thumbs up on the TiVo. For those interested here is a list of some of the topics they covered.

    1. coke's ability to remove blood stains/rust/etc
    2. do piercing's make you more susceptible to lightening
    3. ice bullets (CIA myth)
    4. the JADO rocket on the car in the desert
    5. the weather balloon lawn chair story
    6. running in the rain keeps you drier then walking
    7. eel skin wallets erase credit cards
    8. smoking on the toliet can kill ya
    9. poppy seeds can make you test positive on a drug test
    10. peeing on the third rail will kill ya
    11. tree canon
    12. ways to beat a breathalyzer
    13. dropping a hammer in the water before you fall in will break your fall
    14. penny off the empire state building
    15. exploding cdrom drivers
    16. breast implants explode in airplanes

    anyway - good show... no answers listed - watch the show to find out.
    • "15. exploding cdrom drivers"

      That is why I use a special version of WinZip that includes a reinformed titanium shell for my file downloads. You never known when one of these might detonate inside the modem or at the wall phone-plug outlet.

      I'm sure glad the RIAA has not discovered exploding files. It could escalate their war against p2p to a new level.
    • I didn't see the episode so I'm not sure exactly what this was explaining... If it was talking about CDs exploding in the drive I can vouch for that.

      I had a CD explode in the drive before. It apparently had a miniscule crack (in the CD), and I guess when it was spinning in the drive at full speed, the centrifugal force just made it blow apart. Sounded like a gunshot. Scared the crap out of me. I'll never use those crappy generic CD-Rs again.

      When I called up Dell support the guy scratched his head a

      • Yah, they came up with a "yes" for this one. You have to spin the thing really fast, and it usually has to be somehow slightly off center or off balance, but it was not very hard for them to blow up CD's in their tests.
      • they're pretty sturdy.

        Let's hope so, because the ballistics dummy in the show looked like a bomb victim after their open-air tests.
    • I've never heard of the show until today, but it sounds cool. I'm especially interesting in the tree cannon, since my roommate made a sort of tree missile using six or seven sticks of dynamite and a ~60 ft doug fir ( be young and stupid in rural Montana), and I've heard of Survival Research Lab's Pitching Machine [] which chucks 6 ft long 2x4's up to 800 feet, but a tree cannon sounds like something different. Unfortunately a brief googling didn't seem to turn up anything.
      • Unfortunately, the tree cannon is not as really exciting as you probably expect. It's a cannon barrel built out of a tree -- not a device that shoots tree trunks some ungodly distance.

        The myth says that long ago, some town in Hungary at odds with a neighboring town built a cannon out of a tree overnight to shoot at their enemy; however, when they fired it, the cannon exploded killing half of their own town.

        The show involves the guys building a tree cannon and some ammo using nothing but tools available at
    • Some more not listed:

      17. Barrel of Bricks (my 2nd favorite segment, after Penny Drop)
      18. Cell phone destroys gas station
      19. Microwave madness
      20. Pop rocks (another fave)
      21. one about a fat woman on an airplane toilet
      22. Radio fillings

      There are probably others (should be a multiple of 3).

      This is my favorite show and I'm glad they brought it back to their regular schedule after a limited run early this spring. One thing people don't often mention is that it's the personality of the hosts that really make i
  • Official Site (Score:4, Informative)

    by Drunken_Jackass ( 325938 ) on Monday November 17, 2003 @05:08PM (#7496110) Homepage
    Here [] is the official site for the show. There are a few fan sites that are navigable off of the main site too.

    It's quite and entertaining and informative show, and should definately be Tivo'd (since, you know, we're all out on Friday nights).
  • by netringer ( 319831 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `todhsals-rddaam'> on Monday November 17, 2003 @05:11PM (#7496150) Journal
    Did you see the one that went wrong?

    When they checked out the "Buried Alive!" urban legends by burying one in a metal coffin to see how long the air lasted, they didn't have all the information they needed.

    The funeral home was happy to sell them a metal coffin but didn't tell them they bury coffins inside a concrete burial vault.

    When the Mythbusters dumped several tons of dirt on the coffin with the tester inside the coffin began to collapse from the load.

    They never did explain why they had that problem - A modern coffin can't be - and isn't buried by itself.

  • If the Discovery show piqued your interest in busting commonly-held myths, check out It analyses the truth behind those stories you always hear about Disney putting "SEX" in its movies, Richard Gere becoming involved with a gerbil, and other urban legends.

    • > Richard Gere becoming involved with a gerbil

      Strictly speaking, the story claims that the gerbil gets involved with Richard Gere!

    • Richard Gere becoming involved with a gerbil,

      The more notable thing than wether the U.L. is true or not is how easy it is for most people to believe it of Richard Gere. We have a pretty strong opinion about those left coasters here in flyover country...

  • ...the myth that Slashdotters can't get laid.

    And more importantly, how are they going to test it?

  • From the article: "Is Jimmy Hoffa's body lying perfectly preserved in the concrete foundation of the Meadowlands sports stadium?"

    No. Groundbreaking for the stadium at the Meadowlands (Giants Stadium) was in 1972, and Hoffa disappeared in the summer of '75. By then the stadium was not far from completion; the foundations had been laid long before.

    However, the nearby New Jersey Turnpike is paved with concrete, and elevated portions of it are continually being resurfaced to deal with the effects of East Co

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI