MYTHBUSTERS fans have always been a big part of the show. They’ve suggested 240 of the myths that have appeared in episodes over the past 14 years, according to this weekend’s “Reddit Special.” It was only natural that Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman include some fan requests for the final season, and they turned to their Reddit “Ask Me Anything” forum for some ideas, getting some 7,000 recommendations. Of those that were actually usable on television, Adam and Jamie whittled the list down to four.
You couldn’t have a final season of MYTHBUSTERS without an appearance by Buster, the crash dummy. In this episode, Buster got to take the ride – well, several rides – of a lifetime, falling from a Sikorsky helicopter to test whether he could survive a 1,000-foot drop in an inflated giant “hamster ball.”
Wearing shock watches, test swatches that break at different impact levels, Buster first enjoyed a ride inside the helicopter with Adam, who then with an evil laugh kicked Buster out the door for a control impact reading without the hamster ball. Buster didn’t survive, breaking all the shock watches.
Then Adam and Jamie loaded Buster inside the hamster ball and suspended him by a tether beneath the helicopter and dropped him the 1,000 feet. The idea was that the hamster ball would reduce Buster’s terminal velocity from 120 mph to around 50 mph, making the fall survivable. But all the shock watches broke once again, so Buster still didn’t survive.
But that wasn’t Buster’s last thrill ride. Adam and Jamie had one more idea before calling this myth. Remembering the 2012 “Bubble Boy” episode, in which they wrapped Adam in bubble wrap and dropped him from 35 feet, they decided to load the hamster ball with bubble wrap after stuffing Buster inside, and once again they suspended Buster 1,000 feet from beneath the helicopter and dropped him. But again, all the shock watches broke, meaning that Buster didn’t survive. Sorry fans.
- Conclusion: busted.
Fans suggested Adam and Jamie test the efficacy of a video they had seen online catching someone passing gas using a thermal camera. It showed a person in street clothing and a stream of dark gas shooting from their behind. Now, Adam and Jamie’s producers wouldn’t let them shoot what they really wanted to do to test this myth, so Adam built a mechanical Whoopee Cushion with a rubber cushion surrounded by a water box heated to body temperature.
When they used a thermal camera to shoot their device in the act of passing gas, the camera showed the noisy end of the cushion heating up – and the device made a flatus sound – but there was no image of gas passing. No matter how hard or fast they pumped the device.
However, Adam was able to reproduce an image of dark gas shooting “from his behind” by attaching a hose to an aerosol can of air duster, like that computer operators use to clean equipment, and sticking the hose between his legs. That gas gets very cold quickly, proving the myth false. Using steam, Jamie demonstrated what an actual hot gas looks like in a thermal camera, and it isn’t dark as it is in the online video. “They got it all wrong,” said a skeptical Jamie.
- Conclusion: busted.
Some of the MYTHBUSTERS’ most inventive experiments have involved idioms, and a fan favorite request was to test the idiom, “You can’t punch your way out of a paper bag.” In this myth, Jamie built a life-size paper bag and Adam went to a professional boxing gym to learn how to punch.
After a little testing, Adam figured that he needed to hit a piece of paper with 35 pounds of punch if it were sitting still. But what if the bag weren’t sitting still? What if it moved when it hit it? What if there was more room inside the bag than his reach? Jamie built the bag just beyond Adam’s reach.
To test the myth, Adam would do three rounds. Wearing boxing gloves, he could punch at almost 600 pounds of force.
In round 1, Adam punched for 1 minute 22 seconds before breaking through the paper bag, not exactly the trivial task implied by the idiom. In round 2, Adam punched for 1 minute 4 seconds, again not a trivial result. And in round 3, it took Adam 1 minute 14 seconds, a similar result to the other two.
Before calling the myth busted, however, they decided to remove the boxing gloves and Adam punched his way out in 2 seconds! The truth of the idiom is, Adam pointed out, “it’s a matter of surface area.” The smaller surface area allowed Adam to punch right through. Bare knuckles beats paper bag!
- Conclusion: confirmed.
The final segment wasn’t really a myth. It was a gratuitous explosion of sorts. Fans asked Adam and Jamie to blow up an inflatable Snoo (the Reddit alien logo), complete with color paint and glitter. And so for the fun of it, and because their fans asked for it, Adam and Jamie built an inflatable Snoo, wrapped bubbles filled with paint around explosives, and filled the inflated Snoo with as much explosives, paint, and glitter as possible, and made it go boom. Shot with a slow motion camera at 25,000 frames per second, it was pretty amazing.
- Conclusion: Awesome.
Just so you’re prepared, next week will be the MYTHBUSERS final new episodes on Discovery Channel. There will be two. At 8:00 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. PT) will be the Season Finale. Then at 9:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. PT) will be a MYTHBUSTERS Reunion, as I’ve read it, a revisit of the past 14 years of MYTHBUSTERS by the whole cast. So if you’ve missed Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara, tune in!
If you missed this week’s episode, it re-airs on the Science Channel Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. PT) and midnight ET (9:00 p.m. PT). Catch it while you can.