MythBusters (2003 season)
|MythBusters (2003 season)|
|Country of origin||Australia
|No. of episodes||8|
|Original channel||Discovery Channel|
|Original run||September 23, 2003– December 12, 2003|
|List of MythBusters episodes|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: MythBusters|
The cast of the television series MythBusters perform experiments to verify or debunk urban legends, old wives' tales, and the like. This is a list of the various myths tested on the show as well as the results of the experiments (the myth is Busted, Plausible, or Confirmed).
Note: The show's first season used "True" instead of "Confirmed"; for the sake of consistency, "Confirmed" will be used on this page.
- 1 Episode overview
- 2 Episode 1 – "Magic Bullet, Exploding Toilet, Who Gets Wetter?"
- 3 Episode 2 – "Cell Phone Destruction, Silicone Breasts, CD-ROM Shattering"
- 4 Episode 3 – "Barrel of Bricks, Peeing on the Third Rail, Eel Skin Wallet"
- 5 Episode 4 – "Penny Drop, Microwave Madness, Radio Tooth Fillings"
- 6 Episode 5 – "Hammer Bridge Drop, Buried Alive, Cola"
- 7 Episode 6 – "Lightning Strikes Tongue Piercing, Tree Cannon, Beat the Breath Test"
- 8 Episode 7 – "Stinky Car, Raccoon Rocket"
- 9 Episode 8 – "Escape From Alcatraz, Duck Quack, Stud Finder"
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
|No. in series||No. in season||Title||Original air date||Overall episode No.|
|1||1||"Exploding Toilet"||September 23, 2003||4|
Can a person be propelled off a toilet seat by dropping a lit cigarette into a toilet bowl when filled with various combustible materials?
Is running better than walking to keep dry in the rain?
Is it possible to make a "magic bullet" out of ice?
|2||2||"Cell Phone Destroys Gas Station"||October 3, 2003||5|
Will using a cell phone near a gas pump cause an explosion?
Will silicone breast implants explode or expand in low pressure?
Can a standard CD-ROM drive shatter a CD?
|3||3||"Barrel of Bricks"||October 10, 2003||6|
The story of a man being hit multiple times by a barrel of bricks with a pulley system.
Can a person be electrocuted by urinating on the third rail?
Can an eel skin wallet erase a credit card?
|4||4||"Penny Drop"||October 17, 2003||7|
Will a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building kill a person or penetrate the ground?
Can a person's internal organs be cooked by a tanning booth?
Can tooth fillings receive radio waves?
|5||5||"Buried Alive"||October 24, 2003||8|
How long can you survive in an underground coffin?
Does Cola have special properties?
If a person is falling off a bridge, can they save themselves by throwing a hammer ahead of them to break the surface tension of the water prior to their own impact?
|6||6||"Lightning Strikes/Tongue Piercings"||November 11, 2003||9|
Is a person with a tongue piercing more likely to get struck by lightning?
Can a cannon be built out of a tree?
Can the breathalyzer be beaten through various methods?
|7||7||"Stinky Car"||December 5, 2003||10|
Can an attractive sports car in which a person has died and started to decay become so malodorous that it will be impossible to subsequently sell the car as no amount of cleaning will remove the stench?
If gasoline is poured down a drain pipe and lit while a person is inside of it, will that person be launched as if from a cannon?
|8||8||"Alcatraz Escape"||December 12, 2003||11|
Was it possible to survive an escape from Alcatraz?
Does a duck's quack echo?
Does the government implant secret chips in people and can stud finders be used to find them?
Episode 1 – "Magic Bullet, Exploding Toilet, Who Gets Wetter?"
- Original airdate: September 23, 2003
This myth tested the feasibility of magic bullets that can be used to assassinate without leaving evidence, used as a plot device or otherwise mentioned in many movies, such as Most Wanted or Three Days of the Condor. A request for information to the Central Intelligence Agency was declined. Due to the myth's inclusion in many Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, they chose to use a Carcano rifle similar to the assassination weapon for testing.
|An ice bullet can kill someone without leaving a trace.||Busted||The ice bullet evaporated before it could leave the barrel. This myth was retested in Myths Revisited, and remained busted with slow-frozen ice.|
|A meat bullet can kill someone without leaving a trace.||Busted||The hamburger bullet fragmented on contact with the skin, causing only superficial damage.|
|A gelatin bullet can kill someone without leaving a trace.||Busted||The bullet did not cause fatal injury from the 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano round, but had better result from a revolver at point-blank range. Desiring a more subtle assassination tool, the pair examined the Bulgarian umbrella.|
|An assassin can use a poison capsule fired from an umbrella to kill someone without leaving a trace.||Confirmed||It was found to have been the cause of death of a notable Bulgarian journalist in exile, Georgi Markov. The MythBusters build a pair of replicas with a gas cylinder and an air gun, and fired both to lethal effect without leaving gunpowder burns.|
This experiment formally introduced Buster the crash test dummy.
|Pouring gasoline down a toilet and lighting it will cause the toilet to explode.||Busted||The gasoline simply burned without exploding. Even half a tin of gunpowder in the toilet bowl wasn't able to eject Buster from the seat, though his clothes did smolder.|
Who Gets Wetter?
|A person will end up drier by running in the rain rather than walking.||Busted||The pair decides to wear coveralls through 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) per hour of artificial rain and compare walking and running weights to determine which absorbed more water (with bodysuits underneath to remove sweat absorption as a variable). The original test showed that running faster results in getting wetter, with wind only adding minimal amounts of water. The independent tests of Thomas Peterson and Trevor Wallace of the National Climatic Data Center disagreed, finding the runner 40% less wet. The result of this myth was overturned in MythBusters Revisited.|
Episode 2 – "Cell Phone Destruction, Silicone Breasts, CD-ROM Shattering"
- Original airdate: October 3, 2003
Cell Phone Destruction
|Using one's cell phone while pumping gasoline can cause an explosion.||Busted||After singeing Adam's eyebrow in a scale test, the team attempts to ignite a mock gas can. A properly working cell phone failed to ignite gasoline, even when surrounded by gasoline vapor with the optimum fuel-air mix for ignition. The actual risk comes from an electrostatic discharge between a charged driver and the car, often a result of static electricity buildup from getting into and out of the vehicle. When re-tested in Myths Revisited, the conclusion was validated.|
|Silicone breast implants may explode at high altitudes or low air pressure.||Busted||Using a hypobaric chamber, the implants expanded negligibly at 35,000 feet (11,000 m), an altitude too high for a human to live. Using a hyperbaric chamber yielded no impact. A study by Duke University concluded that atmospheric conditions would be lethal long before they could affect implants. A spinoff of this myth was tested in Myths Revisited, while the DVD version includes second version of the spinoff.|
|Compact Discs can shatter if placed in a high-speed (i.e. 40X or faster) optical disc drive.||Plausible||It was proven that a high rotation (in excess of 23,000 RPM) could shatter the CDs, but the MythBusters could not achieve this using an unaltered drive. Physically damaged and unbalanced CDs made shattering more likely. The MythBusters concluded that while this event was possible, it was very unlikely to happen.|
Episode 3 – "Barrel of Bricks, Peeing on the Third Rail, Eel Skin Wallet"
- Original airdate: October 10, 2003
Barrel of Bricks
|A bricklayer hoisting a wooden barrel full of bricks with a pulley from the top of a three-story building could be injured repeatedly.||Plausible||The MythBusters were able to injure Buster by hitting him with the descending barrel as it pulled him up, but the barrel would not break and spill its load until deliberately weakened by removing hoops and dropping it on a sharp edge. This allowed Buster's weight to overcome the broken barrel and fall, while a quick-release mechanism in Buster's hand holding the rope allowed the barrel to be dropped a second time for the third impact. But there was no evidence of the myth happening; the source of the myth appears to be a joke book. This test marks the first time Buster was broken in the course of an experiment.|
Peeing on the Third Rail
|Urinating on the electric third rail of a train track can cause electrocution.||Busted||Since ballistic gelatin has the same electrical resistance as a human body, the MythBusters rigged a dummy with a urination valve and electric release that would trigger with exposure to current. Even wetting the feet and removing shoes failed to trigger the release, due to the urine stream failing to stay laminar and solid enough to complete a circuit. A larger valve failed to create a solid stream, but setting the dummy unrealistically close to the rail finally succeeded. A spinoff of this myth was tested in Myths Revisited. In this episode, the "genitalia" region of the dummy is censored, and no reference is made verbally, instead referring only to the urination process.|
While testing the myth at a train yard, the yard's operators gave Adam permission to test a "mini-myth" with one of their engines:
|Placing a coin on a train track is sufficient to derail a train.||Busted||Adam placed four different types of coin on the track at the same time, but none of them had any noticeable effect on the engine. All that happened was that the coins were flattened and partially melted by the intense friction generated as the engine passed over them.|
|Using an electric eel-skin wallet will cause a static charge that will cause failure in a magnetic stripe card.||Busted||Most eel-skin wallets are not made from electric eels, but rather from a fish called a hagfish which does not produce an electric charge. Data written to a set of test cards were not affected in any way from this leather exposure, nor by direct exposure to an eel in a tank. In addition, further tests were conducted to see how much magnetism would it take to 'wipe' a card, and was found to be about 1,000 gauss(0.1T), far above what the average person may encounter.|
Episode 4 – "Penny Drop, Microwave Madness, Radio Tooth Fillings"
- Original airdate: October 17, 2003
|A penny dropped from a skyscraper lands with enough force to either kill a pedestrian on the sidewalk below or embed itself into the sidewalk.||Busted||Firing a penny at terminal velocity (65 miles per hour (105 km/h)) into concrete and asphalt disks and a ballistics gel head with a human skull failed to result in any penetrations, likely because the speed is too low and a penny's mass too small. Even when fired from a rifle, the penny was unable to penetrate concrete or a ballistic gel dummy's skull. Even modifying a rifle to shoot a penny at supersonic speeds failed to cause a penetration. In comparison, a real 6.5mm bullet split the dummy skull. Visiting the Empire State Building, the likely source of the myth, they realize that updrafts and roofs of lower floors would prevent a thrown penny from reaching street level.|
Radio Tooth Fillings
|It is possible to pick up radio signals through a dental filling.||Busted||The gold and amalgam tooth fillings did not act as an antenna or point-contact transistor when placed in a real human skull. Explanations for the supposed Morse code pickup included a Galvanic cell reaction between two teeth fillings and saliva.|
|It is possible to cook one's insides by using a tanning bed too often; in a manner similar to how a microwave works.||Busted||Tanning booths work on ultraviolet radiation, which penetrates the body from the outside in, meaning that all one would get is a sunburn. They also demonstrated that microwave ovens do not cook food from the inside out.|
|It is possible to blow up a microwave oven by microwaving metal.||Busted (with caveats)||Neither a spoon nor a fork had any effect. Tinfoil scrunched into balls caused a light-show with electric charges, but the microwave did not explode. Microwaving metal can possibly ruin a microwave by arcing against the inner wall, sending electricity back to the magnetron, and either destroying it or shortening its lifespan.|
|If a glass of water is microwaved, removed, and an additive placed in it, it can explode due to superheating.||Confirmed||If the water had no impurities in it at the time of superheating (for instance, distilled water), then any sort of additive placed within will make the water flash to steam and violently spray.|
|It is possible to build a super-microwave by aligning four magnetrons around a metal box.||Busted (unofficially)||If there is a proper method to build one, the method used in the show is not it. After a glass of water was exposed to the "super microwave"'s magnetrons for thirty seconds, a thermometer found that the temperature of the water had actually dropped by two degrees Fahrenheit(1.1°C).|
Episode 5 – "Hammer Bridge Drop, Buried Alive, Cola"
- Original airdate: October 24, 2003
Hammer Bridge Drop
|A high fall over water can be survived by throwing a hammer ahead of oneself to break the surface tension.||Busted||Dropping Buster with an internal accelerometer from a crane led to difficulty because the dummy continually lost parts on each control impact. Eventually, they managed consistent drops (mostly just below 300 g), finding that the hammer reduced the impact slightly, but the 150-foot (46 m) fall would still be lethal.|
101 Uses For Cola
Cola is able to...
|...remove bloodstains.||Confirmed||The cola was able to emulsify bloodstains.|
|...clean rust.||Busted||The cola was unable to break down rust deposits.|
|...act as a toilet cleaner.||Busted||Shown only in MythBusters Outtakes, Adam rubbed engine grease over surfaces in the M5 bathroom (much to Jamie's disgust) and failed to clean it effectively with cola.|
|...clean chrome.||Confirmed||It surprisingly cleaned the chrome better than the commercial chrome polish used for comparison.|
|...dissolve a tooth overnight.||Busted||The tooth did start to dissolve, indicating that with enough time it could be completely dissolved. However, the phosphoric acid (an ingredient in cola) used for comparison was much more effective in dissolving the tooth. The tooth was stained brown.|
|...dissolve a steak.||Busted||The cola simply tenderized the meat, giving the steak a soft, pasty consistency and allowed some mold growth. The phosphoric acid made the steak fall into pieces.|
|...clean a penny.||Confirmed||The cola cleaned the penny well, removing corrosion and shining it. The only part of the coin that was not cleaned was an area where an air bubble had formed.|
|...clean battery terminals.||Plausible||The cola worked, but it was hard to tell if plain water did not perform just as well. The cola did not do anything spectacular. As Adam noted, it probably only worked because it is a liquid.|
|...remove greasy stains in laundry.||Busted||Soaking for four days had no effect at all to the grease, but turned the material brown.|
|...degrease engines.||Busted||The cola did not remove any of the grease and was not more effective than plain water.|
|...kill sperm.||Busted||The MythBusters added cola to some slides and saline solution to others, then counted the number of live sperm they could see through a microscope camera in one minute. The number of live sperm in both saline and cola was relatively the same; and with the help of Dr. Turek, they determined that cola does not do much more than dilute the sperm.|
(The MythBusters also tested whether cola would damage car paint if not cleaned in 24 hours. It did not have any effect, but the phosphoric acid used as a comparison ate through the paint and turned the patch whiter.)
|It is possible to stay alive over one day when one is buried alive in a coffin.||Busted||Jamie risked his own life for this myth, staying in the unburied coffin for 50 minutes; he maintained just 30 minutes when the soil was loaded above the casket. Suffocation from the lack of outside air or lethal poisoning from increasing levels of carbon dioxide would have claimed the life of anyone buried alive. Also the coffin (and occupant) could possibly be crushed by the weight of the soil pressing down on it. The risk of sudden collapse was the main reason the test was aborted after only 30 minutes. After the coffin was uncovered, it was found to have buckled significantly.|
Episode 6 – "Lightning Strikes Tongue Piercing, Tree Cannon, Beat the Breath Test"
- Original airdate: November 11, 2003
Lightning Strikes Tongue Piercing
|Metal body piercings attract lightning.||Busted||The lightning did seem to strike the dummy with a piercing more, but not the piercings directly. It would take a piercing the size of a doorknob to attract lightning. Given that the realistic piercings did not get struck, the myth was technically busted. Adam was also shown having his tongue pierced, but he did not keep the piercing after the test was concluded.|
|Under siege from a neighboring clan, a Medieval Hungarian town (Paks) built a cannon out of a tree overnight, but wiped out a great deal of itself when the cannon exploded during a test-fire.||Plausible||It is impossible to bore a barrel out of a log in a single night using the technology available at that time, and Adam eventually used a chainsaw and electric drill. The cannon made of a log, loaded with 6 ounces (170 g) of period-realistic gunpowder, successfully fired a 1-pound (450 g) hand-chiseled granite cannonball a huge distance (exact measurement unknown since the cannonball was never found, even after 9 years). It also successfully fired a tennis ball, though a soda can merely leaked and contaminated the gunpowder. Loaded with 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of gunpowder, and with its barrel plugged, the tree cannon exploded violently enough to feasibly destroy part of a small medieval town. Since the testing of this myth, Jamie still looks for the cannonball in the bushes around the runway every time he does a myth on the runway.|
Beat the Breath Test
It is possible to pass a field sobriety test despite being over the limit, by...
|...eating breath mints.||Busted||Adam's blood alcohol content only dropped slightly, by an amount that was in the testing machine's margin of error. The only way this is likely to help is by masking the scent of the alcohol in the hope that an officer will not carry out the sobriety test to begin with, and even then it is likely that an officer will already suspect a driver to be over the limit before actually speaking to them.|
|...eating an onion.||Busted||Like Adam, Jamie experienced a blood alcohol content drop that was within the margin of error, and not enough to make it appear that he was under the limit. The scent of the onion was also so overwhelming that anyone using this tactic would likely get caught immediately.|
|...holding a battery in one's mouth during the test.||Busted||The battery had no effect whatsoever on the testing machine. The attending officer also noted that even if such a tactic worked, it would be extremely obvious and not likely to fool whoever was conducting the test.|
|...holding copper coins in one's mouth during the test.||Busted||Though less obvious than the battery, the coins also had no appreciable effect on the result.|
|...applying denture cream before the test.||Busted||Adam's test actually indicated a higher blood alcohol level than his original test; while the increase was in the machine's margin of error, the method was a clear failure.|
|...hyperventilating before and during the test.||Busted||This method caused Jamie to appear to have about 20% more alcohol in his system than he actually did have.|
|...using mouthwash before the test.||Busted||On his initial test, Adam's blood alcohol level was indicated to be at near-lethal levels. When he tried again however, the reading came back only slightly elevated over his initial result. Even if a driver were able to use this method to generate a pair of clearly impossible results, which could throw doubt on the testing machine's accuracy, that driver would then be required to immediately submit to a blood test, which cannot be fooled in any way and would definitively prove the driver's true blood alcohol level.|
Episode 7 – "Stinky Car, Raccoon Rocket"
- Original airdate: December 5, 2003
If a decomposing body is left in a car long enough...
|...the car's interior will be destroyed.||Confirmed||When unsealed, the car was full of condensation and maggots, and the upholstery was dirty and disintegrating. On further inspection it also turned out that the car's electrics (particularly the fusebox) had become severely corroded, rendering it unable to start.|
|...the car cannot be cleaned up enough to remove the smell completely.||Confirmed||With the aid of a professional cleaning company, the car was cleaned, but some parts (such as the seats) proved to be beyond the cleaners' abilities, as well as the impracticality of disassembling every part. Adam and Jamie also reasoned that traces of material in the air conditioning system would cause the smell to linger.|
|...the car cannot be cleaned up enough to be sold.||Busted||After the smell and failure to start turned away several potential buyers, the MythBusters did find a buyer who was willing to purchase the car for US$2,000 and use it for spare parts (a scrapyard owner also offered $500, though the MythBusters rebuffed this offer as being too low).|
|A hillbilly was blasted 200 feet (61 m) out of a culvert when he tried to light gasoline in an attempt to chase down a raccoon which had escaped down the pipe.||Busted||Buster was simply lit on fire when the gasoline was ignited. The only way the result of the myth was duplicated was by encasing Buster in a foam sabot, plugging the bottom end of the 3-foot (0.91 m) diameter culvert, and using 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of gunpowder; resulting in Buster only travelling 100 feet (30 m), half the distance of their goal.|
Episode 8 – "Escape From Alcatraz, Duck Quack, Stud Finder"
- Original airdate: December 12, 2003
Escape From Alcatraz
|Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers (John and Clarence) successfully escaped from Alcatraz prison using an inflatable raft made from rubber raincoats and reached the shore.||Plausible||The makeshift raft crafted and crewed by the MythBusters team did indeed reach the shore, but at the Marin Headlands instead of Angel Island. They declared it "Plausible" because no conclusive evidence has ever been found suggesting the prisoners survived the actual incident, and personal effects washed up later on shore, indicating that the men probably failed to navigate correctly and drowned in San Francisco Bay. However, a portion of the scale tests (cut for time but later shown in MythBusters Outtakes) did show that these belongings could have been released by the prisoners and washed up where they were found through strategic use of the Bay's tides to throw the authorities off their trail. Therefore, the show’s hosts ruled that it was "plausible" that the prisoners may have survived their intricate escape attempt.
The "mini myth" video can be viewed on Discovery's website.
Does a Duck's Quack Echo?
This myth originated in lists of "Random Facts" distributed over the Internet.
|A duck's quack does not echo.||Busted||Initially unable to get either duck to quack, they began chattering when paired. Initially, no echo could be found, so the team moved to an anechoic chamber for comparison. When examined by an audio expert, it was found that the echo was "swallowed" by the original quack, due to the very similar acoustic structure between the quack and the echo. Because of this, it may be difficult to tell where the quack ends and the echo begins, both having similar waveforms on an oscilloscope and blending together in a way that makes them difficult to distinguish. In the same way, human hearing may not perceive the difference between a duck's quack and its echo.|
Stud Finders & Mind Control Chips
|When going to donate blood at the Red Cross, people are actually secretly having mind controlling microchips implanted into their bloodstream that can be detected with a stud finder.||Busted||While a stud finder can find microchips (like those used to track pets) embedded in flesh, none were found after the pair donated blood at the Red Cross.|