“Birds In A Truck”

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.


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.


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.


2 Responses to “Birds In A Truck”

  1. Stephen Mack says:

    Spot on. I agree with you on these two and had similar reactions when I was watching the episode.

    I think it would be fun to watch Mythbuster episodes in a group with smart people from a range of disciplines (physicists, construction, etc.). Let me know next time you watch a Mythbusters episode and I’ll see if I can watch the same one — like you, I’m way behind.

    Great idea for a blog!

  2. mary s. says:

    I disagree that the “Birds in a Truck” was a pointless one. It was maybe less relatable since it’s not every hour that birds are transported from place to place. You also contradicted your suggestion and juxtaposed it with another one right on the spot when you stated, “they should have tested a typical chicken-crate style truck full of pidgeons. I’m not sure how you’d get them to fly…” I mean, chickens?! Adam and Jamie are not that shallow to just pick chickens, are they? I’m sure to make the this show interesting and educational, there’d be some thorough analysis of what to test or not to test. Oh, you also spelled “weigh” wrong, instead you typed “way.” If you’re going to write a critique, please don’t embarass yourself with the simplest spelling of words. Thank you for your time. 🙂

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