It’s impossible to consider that we’re in the eighth season of Mythbusters already. Hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have somehow managed to make each episode of every season seem familiar yet still provide both entertainment and more than a little education. With new episodes starting just a week ago (October 6, 2010) on the Discovery Channel, the boys are back with more to keep us on our toes.
If you haven’t heard of the Mythbusters before, the show takes one or more “myths” and then uses ingenuity, science, and showmanship to prove whether they are confirmed, busted, or remain unconfirmed. They’ve taken everything from the idea that a cup of soda tossed out the window of a car could break through the windshield of an oncoming car and kill the driver or can the propane tank for a BBQ grill get hot enough to launch through the roof like a rocket. Some of my personal favorites are the “special episodes” where they take something like duct tape and build a suspension bridge strong enough for someone to walk across… Yes, these guys are a little crazy – but every episode is fun and always manages to teach a little common sense and science at the same time.
An upcoming special episode airing this week is called “Storm Chasing Myths.” Adam and Jamie managed to convince Reed Timmer and Sean Casey from Discovery’s Storm Chasers series to let them test their two “tornado-proof” research vehicles – Reed’s “Dominator” and Sean’s “TIV2″. Each has survived tornado wind speeds up to 155 mph and lived to tell the tale, but they wanted more. Could they survive an F4 or F5 tornado with speeds upwards of 250 mph?
You can bet that Adam and Jamie wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to put these vehicles to the test. Using the four jet turbine engines of a 747 to simulate tornado-force winds, the duo was excited to see what would happen.
First, they figured out how much wind the engines would produce. Turns out they could produce more than enough wind. When testing to see what the sustained winds would do to a normal car, they watched as the hood sheared off and flew like a frisbee about 1/4 mile from where it started and the car itself blew backwards about 250 feet. The Storm Chasers vehicles did better than that – but to find out how much better, you’ll have to watch the episode on October 13th!
After that, Jamie and Adam took it upon themselves to design a portable personal protection device that would protect a person if they didn’t happen to have an armored and anchored vehicle nearby when stuck outside in a tornado. After watching a normal car go backwards in these winds, it would obviously be deadly for a person to be caught without some sort of protection.
Though Adam doesn’t have much luck with his prototypes, Jamie hits upon a good design pretty quickly. When testing a full size prototype behind the 747, it’s fun to see Adam get blown backwards in nearly 130 mph winds. Would Jamie’s design protect him in nearly 180 mph winds? You’ll have to watch and see!
I was bummed that the rest of the crew wasn’t in this episode – Kari Byron, Tony Belleci, and Grant Imahara usually provide an alternate myth that gets woven into each episode. But I’m sure they’ll be put to work in other new episodes in the next few weeks.
Tune in to the Discovery Channel Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT to see Adam and Jamie take on myths and see what happens on Mythbusters!