The “MythBusters” team has had a lot of fun blowing stuff up and doing all the cool and dangerous things we’re not supposed to try at home.
Since 2003, the cast of this hit Discovery Channel program has investigated everything from whether you can really walk on water (not really) to try and find a needle in a haystack (yep, but it ain’t easy.)
But a big chunk of their entertaining yet informative efforts has revolved around what cars can and can’t do. The special effect artists have come up with a variety of interesting experiments to either prove or disprove certain actions.
Some of our favorites include:
- Explosive results. Every shoot-out movie has convinced us that a bullet into the car can trigger a fireball. But several experiments showed that this just isn’t the case. The bullet could perhaps puncture the gas tank and maybe cause a leak, but the team couldn’t get the big blow-up.
- Radar love. As long as police radar surveillance has been taking place, there have been efforts to thwart it. The team learned this hen it couldn’t produce any jamming device or reflective camouflage to block a radar signal. This included everything from foil to reflective paint to mirrors.
- Free falling. Movie magic also convinces us that cars will always explode when they fall off a cliff, no matter their height or weight. Though it was certainly fun to watch cars plunge into space, the MythBusters couldn’t produce a kaboom, other than a little flame, no matter the gas tank’s location.
- Keeping it cool. Maybe mom suggested turning down the AC. Maybe you laughed and cranked up the cool. Turns out, and the MythBuster team verified this, she was correct: fuel consumption rose when the air condition was on vs. keeping the windows open.
- Getting dirty. Mom probably also told you that keeping your car clean was a virtue, while you felt that dirt gave it character. In this experiment, the team theorized that a layer of dirt may reduce drag. The theory didn’t hold up since typical road dirt is unevenly distributed so doesn’t add any kind of uniform texture. However, when they created a car body with a pattern, such as you would see on a golf ball, it actually increased efficiency.
- Phoning it in. By now, most of us know that drinking and driving can be a dangerous combination. But there’s a culprit that’s even worse – the cell phone. Using a closed course, the MythBusters team observed which behavior was worse behind the wheel. The winner was the person yakking on the phone, which the experiment showed caused someone to drive worse than the drinker.
- What’s that smell? An urban legend that never seems to die is the one where the guy gets a great deal on a car, but it has a mysterious smell that won’t go away. Here, they loaded up a car with foul-smelling items and then tried to remove anything that could have absorbed the smell. The smell lingered no matter what.
- Off with your head. One’s anxiety list probably has “getting head cut off by an exploding tire” pretty low. But that doesn’t mean it can never happen. Here, the theory is if a truck tire happens to explode next to your car, could it potentially take off your head? The actual answer was “yes, kind of.” It would take some precise rubber bits traveling at a high speed to hit the instant you happen to be there.
- Open the gate. Your pick-up may not be in the same category as a stock car down at the track. After all, none of those cars can haul wood or furniture quite like yours can. But you also improve your fuel efficiency, like a race car, by opening the tailgate or covering the bed. At least that’s the theory. And that’s the theory proven to be wrong – neither of those enhancements did much to change the overall efficiency.
- Axle of evil. If you want to disable someone’s car, just tie a hook to a chain, and then hook it to the rear axle, like you’ve seen on TV. Then of course, with enough pull, the axle will break clean off, and someone will be screaming mad for sure. Or it will you who could lose your cool when you find out that no amount of testing was able to find the right amount of chain, power or loose bolts that could yank the part clean off. Busted!
- Watch wildlife. If you see a collision with a furry critter is imminent, do you a) swerve? B) slow down? Or c) speed up? If you chose C, the theory is your acceleration increase is large enough that the animal will miss your car. Several experiments later, the team found that going faster will cause more damage to you and the animal.
12.Sinking feeling. We get it – you’re in your car that happens to be heading underwater. All you need to do is open the door and get out. Except for the fact that there’s so much pressure pushing on the doors more than you trying to push your way out.
- Outdrive those raindrops. If you just washed your car, thanks for triggering that rainstorm. Now, your challenge is to drive super fast so you can avoid any precipitation. MythBuster fans ended up being a little curious with their finding of “Maybe.” An owner of a convertible who stops to put up the roof will get wet. Driving 70 mph also reduces the amount of rain you’d get in the convertible at a slower speed.