“Superhero Hour”

August 30, 2007

Can a belt buckle grappling hook gun help you scale a wall?

I’m not sure whats to prove here. Grappling hooks exist. Mechanical Ascenders exist.

Critique

Adam needs to work on his rope climbing skills, seriously. I couldn’t have climbed that rope either, but I’ve seen people scale ropes quite easily. Just because he couldn’t do it doesn’t mean that its impossible.

Why are you building a grappling gun when they seem to already exist?

My Verdict

Analysis pointless. Adam and Jamie are just having fun building stuff.  I guess the cool part is that Jamie’s ascender worked.  Adam should have been a lot more careful with his device — its as deadly as a real gun, even if it doesn’t really work.

Can a single superhero punch leave a ring-shaped scar?

Grant, Tori and Keri simulate a really strong punch to see if it’ll leave a scar.

Critique

Well, we’re talking about a “superhero” here, and what does “scar” really mean? Would it leave a bruise? What if the ring were hot with superhero heat radiation, and it left a burn scar? Anyway, I don’t want to quibble on superhero powers, I just want to make it clear that this is pretty tenuous to start with. Do you know exactly what shape the ring is? What if the ring had a razor sharp raised border that cuts into the skin? It wouldn’t take a very strong “punch” to cause a scar with that kind of ring, and the comic book artwork didn’t really show exactly what the ring was like…

Additionally, on the first 2 blows, it didn’t look like the ring was really making good contact with the skull.

My Verdict

Analysis Plausible. I think they did a reasonable job, and you’re just not going to get any scarring from a blunt blow. Scars happen with burns or lacerations, so maybe if the ring had a raised, razor sharp border, it would have worked.

What they should have done

Made a ring that was guaranteed to “scar” with human strength punches.

Can you corner a car using a grappling hook?

Again, the B-Team tests to see if you can use a grappling hook to corner a car.

Critique

What was the whole jet-bat-car makeover for?  Again, kudos for their more scientific approach than the A-Team.  Even though the rope and cable have high breaking strengths, those are under optimal conditions (no kinks, no abrasions, etc.)  Nonetheless, I’m pretty convinced by this one.

My Verdict

Analysis Confirmed.  Nice looking build.  I like the nitrogen cannon.  I like the mount inside the car.  Its all very Monster Garage, and pretty well done.  Cars are really heavy, and sure do have a lot of kinetic energy.

Can you change clothes in a phone booth?

Whats the myth here?

My Verdict

Confirmed: Keri looks kinda cute in red satin.


“Ultimate MythBusters”

August 30, 2007

Adam and Jamie go through a series of “tests” to see who’s the “Ultimate MythBuster”.  Not much to say.  I like Jamie’s tortilla thrower and his egg-drop methods.  They’re clever.


“Viewer Special”

August 30, 2007

Can cigarette butts be a lethal weapon?

Adam and Jamie see if cigarette butts (or filters) can be lethal when put down the barrel of a muzzle loaded gun.

Critique

Reasonable analysis, but this is the most random “myth” I’ve ever heard of. Who has muzzle loading guns? Who smokes cigarettes? Who’s stupid enough to combine both things together.

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed. Reasonable job on a kinda pointless myth.

Can you stop a car using reverse?

The B-Team tries to stop both an automatic and a manual car by putting them into reverse.  The automatic has a safety shutoff that kills the car, and the manual doesn’t have synchros on reverse, so it fails.

Critique

Whats to say?  They tried it, and it didn’t work.   They could have tried to find a manual car that <strong>does</strong> have synchros on reverse, and see what they could do with that.  Maybe there are none?

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed.

Does sneezing with your eyes open pop out your eyeball?

I’m surprised that Adam and Jamie actually took this one on, since if its true, there should be several documented cases.

Critique:

Actually did a reasonable job. I wish they had more than one test subject.

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed. Your eyes won’t pop out of your head.

What they should have done

Used more test subjects, and talked about the anatomy of the head

Can a tennis ball serve as a lockpick?

This is just an urban myth, and the B-Team proves that its basically impossible.

Critique

I like the use of compressed air.  Nice trick!

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed

Adam and Jamie blow up a car.

For a finale, they blow up some kids mom’s car. Oh well.


“Concrete Glider”

August 30, 2007

You can’t make a concrete glider “fly”

Adam and Jamie have a build-off trying to build a concrete glider. Adam thinks that he can ignore the last century of aerodynamics innovation, and Jamie proves that he’s never built a glider before.

Critique:

Can you please define ‘fly’? As has been said many times before, “If you attach a powerful enough engine to anything, it’ll fly”. I know we’re talking about gliders here, but I still think that they need to be a bit more clear about what ‘flying’ is. If I throw a rock, how long does it ‘fly’? What is the worst glide ratio of an actual glider?

Adam buiilds a ‘kite’ and of course at high enough speeds it ‘flys’ for a little while. Jamie makes a valiant effort, but doesn’t know that his glider has a very high stall speed.

My Verdict:

Analysis Busted! Jamie should have won, which was very clear. The reason he didn’t is that Adam’s launch system imparted more kinetic energy into his glider than Jamie’s hand launch, and thus, it “flew” (dropped?) farther.

What they should have done:

Well, it seems as though there are proven cases of actual concrete gliders. Why not just say “Confirmed” and site the reference? If thats too easy, then at least research glider aerodynamics (center of gravity, lift to weight, wing aspect ratio, etc.) before setting off to build a glider. I bet they couldn’t have done any better if they were building gliders from balsa wood, since their methods were so flawed.

Is it possible for a passing train to suck you off the platform?

G, T, & K do a real world test to see if someone can be “sucked” off the platform by a passing train.

Critique

Again, I’m impressed by the B-Team’s improved scientific method. They hand built a wind tunnel, which I thought was completely inconclusive, but did look nice. The recaps of the chicken gun episode were totally pointless. The one case that they should have talked about is the subway tunnel case. We’ve all been standing right by the tunnel entrance in a subway and felt the great wind that comes by when the train starts to come out of the tunnel. Thats a totally different story, and could have radically different results.

My Verdict

Analysis confirmed. If you could actually be sucked onto the tracks by a passing train (or subway) then there would be railings there to prevent that from happening. Also, there would be reports of deaths by train suction, which I presume they looked for but couldn’t find.


“Red Rag to a Bull”

August 26, 2007

Are bullets in an oven or fire lethal?

Adam and Jamie talk about Newton’s 3rd Law of motion again, as well as some fundamentals of intertia, and use bullets, beer and hairspray to demonstrate.

Critique:

I’ll have to say that they actually did a pretty reasonable (and scientific) job on this one. They covered their control cases pretty well, and got good results, and had a good explanation of why. One thing they could have done is compared the amount of black powder in a gun shell to the amount of powder in a typical firecracker or M-80. They could have talked about why the bullet is lethal, but the M-80 isn’t (usually).

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed (for the bullet in the oven). Good job, guys! The beer and hairspray stuff was pretty funny material, I guess.

What they should have done:

I think they were spot-on here, so there’s nothing extra to add. Maybe they could have tested a variety of oven doors before starting?

Are Bulls enraged by the color red

Grant, Tori, and Keri try to see if bulls are enraged by the color red.

Critique:

I’m actually always a little more impressed with the “2nd crews'” analysis. I think they spend more time in research and analysis, and less time “just doing it” like Adam and Jamie do, and are better with their controls and varied methods. They usually don’t assume that one case proves the rule, like A&J do.

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed. I agree that movement is the likely thing that gets bulls charging.

What they should have done:

The one variable missing in their analysis was “texture”. Most Rodeo clowns don’t just wear red, they wear a very loud, textured (polka dots, etc.) and move around to attract the bulls. Could there be something in plaid, polka dots, high contrast lines, or some other texture that would make a bull charge a stationary object?

…like a bull in a China shop.

Can you say 15 minutes of pointless footage? What’s there to prove here? That bulls knock things over, or that they can avoid obstacles?

Critique

This is pointless filler material. Are they running out of ideas?

My Verdict

Analysis Pointless?


“Birds In A Truck”

August 20, 2007

Newtons 3rd Law (i.e. Does a truck way less when birds are flying in it)

Adam and Jamie try to disprove Newton’s 3rd law of motion. Of course, they don’t.

Critique:

Have you ever noticed that when you’re hauling animals, that you don’t haul them in a closed container? Chickens are transported in open-sided crates. Hauling them in a closed container would be inhumane (they would suffocate and/or overheat on long trips). And, clearly, they’re not going to disprove Newton’s 3rd law of motion, so this analysis was basically pointless.

My Verdict:

Confirmed. Of course, Newton was right.

What they should have done:

They should have tested a typical chicken-crate style truck full of pidgeons. I’m not sure how you’d get them to fly, but at the very least, they could have tested a mesh sided truck, and see how that affected the results (to “replicate the myth” as they say).

Can you bifurcate a speedboat on a channel marker

Grant, Tori and Keri try to bifurcate a speedboat.

Critique:

As Grant says, this episode is all about intertia. But, what they don’t realize in either the small-scale or large-scale simulations is that there’s a huge difference between a boat in water, and a boat on land. I was also going to critique the fact that the boat had no engine, but I did see two yellow 55 gallon drums in the back, which I presume were filled with water or sand to match the weight of the original boat engine. They should have mentioned this.

The huge difference is that a boat in water is easy to move in the forward direction, but due to the hull shape, is extremely difficult to move in the lateral direction. Boat hulls are designed this way on purpose — its what allows them to turn. So, a boat in water hitting a channel marker has a very large force holding the boat “on course” and not allowing it to glance off the channel marker, as it did in the on land simulations.

My Verdict:

Busted. Their analysis is completely flawed. You can’t replicate boat dynamics on land. (Would this have worked with a sailboat that had a keel? No way!)

What they should have done:

Exactly what they did, except in water. It would have worked just like the news photo they showed.


“Walking on Water” (Ninja myths)

August 16, 2007

Can Ninjas walk on water?

Adam tries to reproduce Ninja accessories to let them walk on water, while Jamie watches and laughs.

Critique:

Walking on water is very unlikely, but look at the “Jesus Lizard” for an example of whats necessary: High initial speed and large, light feet.

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed. This is so unlikely that even they can’t mess up the analysis.

Can Ninjas catch an arrow in flight?

Adam and Jamie build a rig to try to catch an arrow in flight.

Critique:

The key variable that they didn’t talk about here is how far the archer is from the catcher. Given enough lead time, I’m fairly certain that people can anticipate something like an arrow in flight.

There should have been some analysis of how quickly a ‘Ninja’ can move their arm to match the speed of an arrow. How fast are arrows in flight? How fast can a ‘Ninja’ move his arm?

They assume this myth is about grip strength of a static fist catching a moving arrow. Thats just not true. The issue here is can a moving hand catch a moving arrow, at normal arrow speeds and weights. Because arrows are light, this is a test of reaction time and speed only, not strength.

My Verdict:

Analysis Busted. I think people can anticipate the speed and location of an arrow, as long as they’re far enough away from the archer to have enough time to “set up” the catch.

What they should have done:

They should have either built a moving arm rig, and tried to catch an arrow in flight with that rig, or just tried to do it themselves with armored gloves. Arrows should have been shot at a reasonable range, somewhere between 100 and 300 feet.

Can Ninjas stop a sword with their bare hands?

Grant, Tori and Keri build a rig to try to catch a sword.

Critique:

They used their own grip strength and sword swinging speeds instead of those of a trained ‘Ninja’. I suspect the factor of error here could be nearly 2 times for both of these parameters.

What was the static grip strength of their clapping rig? Did it actually match human strength? In other words, people have muscles in their fingers that aren’t present in their rig.

You can clearly see in the high speed footage that the artificial hands are much more flaccid than real hands would be. This is a serious problem with their simulation.

My Verdict:

Analysis Confirmed. They should have said “If you try to catch a sword, you’ll cut your hands off” which is what would really happen, just like they did to their rig.

What they should have done:

Measured the grip strength and sword speed of a real ‘Ninja’. Made sure that their rig properly modeled hand grip strength.