August 13, 2013

23 Things Everyone Believes That Have Been Disproven By MythBusters

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MythBusters' Facebook Page
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1. Walter White is awesome at chemistry

MythBusters tested two Breaking Bad scenes–whether a body could really be dissolved with hydrofluoric acid and whether mercury fulminate would really cause a giant explosion. No on both counts.

2. Sharks are highly evolved killing machines

MythBusters has busted a ton of misconceptions we have about sharks including the fact that they can ram a boat with enough power to damage the ship (false), that they can smell a one drop of blood in a swimming pool (it only matters if it’s fish blood, not human blood), that playing dead won’t dissuade a shark from attacking you (it can work), and the fact that sharks have reached peak evolution and have remained unchanged for 400 million years (more like 100 million).

3. It is impossible to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon

Yes, someone did this successfully in the MythBusters experiment but um, be careful. And also, why?

4. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo

While it’s difficult to hear, it’s more difficult to believe that there’s something special about the noise a duck makes that defies the laws of sound.

5. Your friend can “totally” trick a breathalyzer by sucking on a penny/eating an onion/chugging mouthwash

The MythBusters team tested all of these folk remedies to no avail. Also, the police can do a blood test.

6. “A high fall over water can be survived by throwing a hammer ahead of oneself and breaking the surface tension.”

Nope. You will still die. Might even be more painful. Do not try at home.

7. Dropping a penny off the side of the Empire State Building could kill someone

No, it couldn’t. A penny is not big enough or dense enough to do this, even factoring in the distance it would fall. The MythBusters team even fired a penny out of a rifle and it’s fall was still not deadly.

8. You could pick up radio stations and phone calls on an old tooth filling

No, a tooth filling will not act as an antenna.

9. Using your cell phone while pumping gas could trigger an explosion

An explosion could occur while pumping gas due to the gas vapor in the air combusting with an electrostatic charge–but it wouldn’t be your phone’s fault. This kind of static discharge can occur when getting in and out of your car.

10. A playing card could slice through human skin if thrown fast enough

The best card thrower on the MythBuster’s team was able to throw a playing card at a speed of 25mph which caused no injury. With the help of a machine they invented, the card the card speed up to 155mph which still caused only a very minor injury.

11. Quicksand sucks you underground until you die

This is an invention of the movies and our imaginations, fortunately. Real quicksand would be even more buoyant than sand--we’d float to the top.

12. Opening an umbrella while falling from a skyscraper will slow your fall and you can survive

Only in cartoons, unfortunately. Opening the umbrella would slow your fall slightly, but you would still die.

13. You can survive an elevator crash simply but jumping right before the moment of impact

While it seems somewhat logical, this be nearly impossible to time correctly. Even if you could jump at the perfect moment, the velocity of the falling elevator would be so great that you would crash violently into the ceiling. :(

14. When gathering ocean water to put out a wildfire, a firefighter helicopter could accidentally pick up a scuba diver and drop them onto the fire

No, lol.

15. You could destroy someone’s car by putting sugar in the gas tank

Nope. In the experiment the car actually ran better after the sugar was added.

16. “A Daddy long-legs spider has the most potent venom of all spiders, but is unable to pierce human skin.”

Urban legend.

17. When you store your toothbrush on the sink germs fly up and land on it when you flush your toilet

The fact that this happens didn’t get busted, the fallacy that it matters did:

Fecal coliforms were indeed found on all the test brushes, including the control ones. However, none were of a level high enough to be dangerous, and experts confirm that such coliforms were impossible to completely avoid.

18. A goldfish has a memory of only 3 seconds

Nope, this is just an old wive’s tale. The team actually trained a goldfish to remember an obstacle course a month after it had last swam through it.

19. If you drop a piece of food on the floor, you should apply the 5 second rule

If you’re willing to eat food that’s been on the floor, it really doesn’t make a difference if it was there for 5 seconds or five minutes, the amount of yucky stuff that’s collected on it is going to be the same.

20. You shouldn’t store a tissue box in the back of your car because in the event of a crash, it could fly up, hit the back of your head and kill you

Another old wive’s tale. A box of tissue is so light that it could not kill you.

21. The moon landing never happened

Okay this one was far-fetched to begin with but the MB team disproved the common arguments people use to deny the landing: that you shouldn’t be able to see Neil Armstrong in one of the photos (false: lighting on the moon is different than earth), a flag is unable to flap in a vacuum (false: it can), you wouldn’t be able to leave a footprint in a vacuum (false) and that the moon landing video could have been made just by having the astronauts skip and slowing down the film (funny, but not accurate).

22. When leaving a room for a short amount of time it is more energy efficient to leave the light on rather than switch it on and off

The actual findings:

Through numerous tests, the MythBusters calculated that the power surge from turning on a light would only consume as much power as leaving it on for a fraction of a second (except for fluorescent tube lights; the startup consumed about 23 seconds worth of power). Furthermore, the wear and tear of turning the light on and off repeatedly did not reduce the bulb’s total life expectancy enough to offset the increased electricity usage. Therefore, it is far more economical to turn a light off rather than leaving it on.

23. You could stay alive underwater while breathing air from your car’s tires

Only in movies. In the experiment the tester could not get enough air from a hole he cut in the tire to be able to breathe it in. TC mark

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