MythBusters’ 21 Best Water-based Myths [Infographic]

MythBusters is the best. It’s the most talked about show here at PressureWashr.

The past 3 Friday afternoons we spent drinking beer doing nothing but MythBusters research for the infographic you see below.

We looked at info on 1,000+ myths and found 44 that were water related. Here are the 21 best in infographic form.

MythBusters Infographic

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Falling Into Water

1. A person who falls into water from high enough will sustain the same injuries as if he/she had landed on pavement.

Result: Busted

What Happened? No matter what height Buster was dropped from, or if it was feet first or belly flop, the accelerometers indicated much higher g’s landing on pavement.

2. A high fall over water can be survived by throwing a hammer ahead of oneself to break the surface tension.

Result: Busted

What Happened? The hammer reduced the impact force only slightly, Buster’s measurements still indicated death.

Using Water

Around The Home

3. Dipping a sleeping person’s hand in a bowl of warm water will cause him or her to wet the bed.

Result: Busted

What Happened? Crew member Matt Cordova had his hand in the water for 5 minutes while in deep sleep and did not wet the bed.

4. Water boiled in a microwave oven will kill plants if used to water them.

Result: Busted

What Happened? Romaine lettuce plants were set up and given tap water, oven boiled water and microwaved water for 1 week. The microwaved water plant had grown larger than the others.

Explosions

5. A water heater can explode like a rocket and shoot through the roof of a house.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? A 52-gallon (200 L) water heater had its safety features disabled so they could increase the PSI inside the tank until it blew. They then built a shack with a roof that adhered to California building codes. When the water heater exploded at 315 PSI it shot through the roof and 500 ft (150 m) high.

6. Alkali metals dropped into a bathtub filled with water will create a huge explosion comparable to a hand grenade.

Result: Busted

What Happened? Various amounts of rubidium, cesium, sodium and potassium were dropped into a toilet and bathtub. Using 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) of each was enough to see violent reactions but it only caused the bathtub to crack. Not comparable to a hand grenade.

Water Stun Gun

7. It is possible to create a water-powered stun gun.

Result: Busted

What Happened? After testing different commercial water guns they found none could create a reliable steady stream to conduct the electricity. They also found even if there was a steady stream the voltage dropped significantly over a few feet.

On the Water Surface

What Can Machines Do

8. A motorcycle moving at freeway speed can ride across the surface of a lake.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? Supercross veteran Eric McCrummen rode across 50 ft (15 m) and 100 ft (30 m) stretches of 3 ft (0.9 m) deep water. In deeper water the motorcycle sank after 300 ft (91m).

9. A speedboat jumping off a ramp and flying through the air can survive the landing and continue driving (Based on scene from James Bond Live and Let Die).

Result: Plausible

What Happened? Boat was fitted out to be controlled remotely and driven at the ramp at 45 mph (72 km/h). Despite hitting the ramp at an angle and flipping, the boat still cleared the car underneath the ramp and had minimal damage.

10. A sailboat stranded in calm water can move forward by using an onboard fan to blow air into the sail.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? The full-scale test was on a lake using a swamp boat and 40 hp fan. With the fan facing the sail the boat travelled forward at 3 mph (5 km/h).

What Can People Do

11. A person can waterski behind a full-sized cruise ship.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? Tory opted to wakeboard instead of waterski. They attached a tow rope to the MS Regal Empress and Tory successfully transferred from a tow rope behind a boat to the tow rope behind the cruise ship on his second try and wakeboarded behind it.

12. A rowing eight can pull a water skier at sufficient speed for the skier to stay upright.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? Jamie was able to stay upright for over 40 seconds.

13. It is possible to run across the surface of a body of water through a combination of footwear and running technique.

Result: Busted

What Happened? No combination of footwear or speed allowed them to stay afloat. Olympic sprinter Wallace Spearmon and trained acrobat and gymnast Jessica Fortunato were even brought in to try.

Underwater

Survival

14. If a car falls into the water and becomes fully submerged, the door cannot be opened until the interior is flooded.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? Adam was easily able to open the door immediately after hitting the water. He could just barely open the door when the water was up to his waist. Once the water got up to the car window he had to wait until the interior was flooded to open it.

15. It is more difficult to escape from a sinking car that flips upside down than from one that remains right-side up.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? Adam was again in the drivers seat. Once the car hit the water it flipped and did a few more half turns. Adam had to wait till the car filled with water to escape. He had to use the emergency air supply. Because of the disorientation the myth was confirmed.

16. A person can stay underwater for an extended period of time by breathing the air from a car tire.

Result: Busted

What Happened? Adam sat inside a car until it sank then exited and cut a hole in the tire to try and breathe the exiting air. He could not get enough air and had to use the emergency air tank.

17. A person can increase his chances of surviving an underwater explosion by floating on his back at the surface.

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? A 10 lb (5 kg) charge of TNT was detonated at a depth of 15 ft (5 m). Pressure sensors were fitted on a pole at different heights including one at the surface. The TNT was detonated at 30, 70 and 150 ft (9, 21, 46m) from the sensors. They found that a person on the surface would survive at all distances the TNT was detonated.

18. Diving underwater can protect you from an explosion.

Result: Plausible

What Happened? Rupture discs were set up at varying distances and heights / depths. 50 pounds (23 kg) of gasoline, ammonium nitrate and dynamite were detonated. The ammonium nitrate ruptured every single disc. The gasoline ruptured the closest disc above water only. The dynamite ruptured all the discs except the ones farthest and under water. Myth plausible depending on explosive.

Guns

19. Hiding underwater can stop a person from being hit by bullets.

Result: Plausible

What Happened? This myth was deemed plausible because it depends how deep you hide underwater. Firing straight down into water supersonic bullets up to .50 caliber disintegrated within 3 ft (0.9 m). Pistol rounds which are slower required 8 ft (2.4 m) to slow to non-lethal. Shotgun slugs required more than 8 ft to slow to non-lethal. In real-life situation gun would be fired at angle to water and distance to reach non-lethal would be much less than tested.

Fun Stuff

20. It is impossible to ride a bike underwater.

Result: Busted

What Happened? Adam was easily able to ride a bike in the shallow end with his upper body out of the water. In the deep end with weights fitted to bike and bike rider they could ride the bikes on flat and downhill but not uphill underwater as they lost traction.

21. A scuba diver can wear a tuxedo underneath his drysuit, go underwater, resurface, strip off his scuba gear, and be able to present the tuxedo perfectly (From James Bond Goldfinger).

Result: Confirmed

What Happened? Jamie put on a drysuit over his tuxedo and did a 40 minute scuba dive while Adam boarded a boat in his tux. After boarding and removing the drysuit, Jamie and Adam were compared and both were found to be presentable condition for a party.

Sources

  1. http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/
  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0383126/
  3. http://www.tv.com/shows/mythbusters/episodes/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_MythBusters_episodes
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_(2003_season) […] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_(2015_season)