The MythBusters tested over 1,000 distinct myths in 271 hour-long episodes spanning 14 years, resulting in a vast amount of information about common myths and interesting phenomena. The following overview attempts to summarize and categorize the results of the entire
MythBusters series as succinctly as possible. Table of Contents
rock kicked up by a lawnmower can deliver the same force as a bullet. A pane of
plate glass dropped from sufficient height can cut a person in half, but tempered glass will just crush the person.
Spray sunscreens can be flammable due to the propellants. A
railroad tanker car can implode after being steam cleaned and then sealed and cooled, but only if it has prior damage. A faulty
water heater can explode and shoot through the roof of a house, even a two-story house. (The phenomenon can also be used to partially extinguish a house fire or to power a cannon.) A
dog bowl can focus enough sunlight to start a fire. A high-rise office worker can
accidentally run through a plate-glass window and fall to their death. A heavy
insect hitting a motorcycle rider in the right spot could kill the rider. If a car is driven into water, there is very little time to
open the doors before the water pressure becomes too great. The pressure will also prevent the windows from being rolled down, and keys, cell phones, and steel-toed boots will be ineffective at breaking the windows. Once the car interior is flooded, the doors can be opened again. Under the right circumstances, a
taser may ignite someone who has just been pepper sprayed. If a
hunting revolver is held improperly when fired, escaping gases can blow the hunter's fingers off. A person's
tongue can instantly stick to a freezing pole. The vortex from a passing train will not
suck a person into the tracks. A large number of
cigarette lighters in a hot car could lead to a lethal explosion. A cigarette lighter is not likely
to explode in a pocket, in a laundry dryer, or on a car dashboard, but it is likely explode when hit with a golf club or when placed near welding tools. If a
steel cable snaps, it will not cut a person in two. A lava lamp or a can of beans
heated on a stove can explode with lethal force. A glass jug of milk and a can of potted meat will also explode, but less forcefully. A
passing snowplow does not move enough air to flip a car. If denim pants are
soaked in certain farm chemicals, they can spontaneously combust. Steel toe boots will not
amputate someone's toes when a heavy object is dropped on them. A
boom lift cannot throw its operator great distances. An MRI scanner will not cause
tattoos to explode, nor will a radio transmitter. A
falling icicle can kill a person.
Microwaving a jawbreaker can result in an explosion of molten sugar when the jawbreaker is bitten.
Sandblasting a PVC pipe will not build up a lethal static charge.
Using a cell phone while pumping gas will not cause an explosion. A
penny dropped from a skyscraper will not gain enough speed to kill a pedestrian.
Vacuuming up black powder will not cause an explosion. If
two hammers strike each other they will not shatter with lethal force, nor will a hammer that strikes an anvil. Counterintuitive Phenomena
Hollywood movies were a frequent source of myths for the MythBusters.
The scene in
Cliffhanger in which the hero leaps to safety from a collapsing rope bridge is not feasible. In
Titanic, Jack may have been able to survive by joining Rose on the floating debris. Jason Bourne
blowing up a house with a gas leak and a magazine in Bourne Supremacy is not feasible. Shooting at a
scuba tank in a shark's mouth will not blow up the shark, as seen in Jaws.
Water can quickly slow a bullet to non-lethal speeds, as seen in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Realistic face masks like those in the Mission Impossible series may be effective at fooling people. In
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the group of people in a suspended cage could not have swung to side of the ravine, but they may have been able to grab the vines and climb to the top. The pirates in
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl could not have improvised a submarine by holding a rowboat upside down as they walked underwater. Using a system of mirrors to
light an underground passage with sunlight, as seen in The Mummy, is extremely difficult. It's not feasible for a group of cars to stir up enough
dust to blind a surveillance drone, as seen in Body of Lies. It is not possible to
hold a bullet over a fire and discharge it toward an enemy, as seen in Shoot 'Em Up. A merry-go-round cannot be
started spinning by shooting at it with a handgun, as seen in Shoot 'Em Up. A
spear with a shotgun shell on its tip is not a feasible weapon, as seen in The Grey. A car
halfway into an elevator won't be cut in half when the elevator moves, as seen in The Green Hornet. With some modifications, the
front half of a car cut in two can be driven, as seen in The Green Hornet. Explosives cannot be used to
throw a bulldozer off a car without hurting passengers in the car, as seen in The Green Hornet. A superhuman
punch to the hood of a moving SUV will not cause it to somersault, as seen in Hellboy. In a car crash, a surfboard on the roof of one car will not
fly through the windshield of another car, as seen in Lethal Weapon 2. A carton of milk will not
contain the muzzle flash of a pistol, as seen in Kiss the Girls. A bus could not
jump a 50-foot gap and keep driving, as seen in Speed. The passengers in a city bus do not need to
move to one side during a fast, sharp turn to prevent the bus from flipping over, as seen in Speed. A human
head dipped in liquid nitrogen for five seconds will not shatter when hit, as seen in Jason X. A
laser can pop popcorn, but popcorn could not break open a house as seen in Real Genius.
Bullets cannot be curved around an obstacle by swinging a gun, as seen in Wanted. A C-4 explosion will not
knock a golf ball into the hole as seen in Caddyshack. Liquid nitrogen can be used to
cool a pressure-triggered bomb and delay its detonation, as seen in Lethal Weapon 2.
Sea water will not conduct electricity from a car battery as seen in Deep Blue Sea, nor can a person survive an underwater explosion at close distances. Having a
conversation while skydiving is not feasible and the fall wouldn't last as long as depicted in Point Break. A
car that jumps off a ramp will not land with little damage, as see in The Dukes of Hazard.
Shooting a lock with handguns will not break it, as seen in Big Trouble in Little China, but shooting it with shotgun slugs or a high-power rifle could. It is feasible to equip a car with a
discreet seat ejector, as seen in Austin Powers in Goldmember. A person cannot
escape through a floor by shooting a ring around themself, as seen in Underworld. A sword cannot
cut off the blade of another sword, as seen in The Count of Monte Cristo. A sports car at high speed can
skip across a lake, as seen in Cannonball, but launching off a ramp is counterproductive. A urine-soaked silk shirt will not
bend prison bars when wrapped around and twisted, as seen in Shanghai Noon. A cable attaching the
rear axle of a car to a light post will not yank the rear axle out, as seen in American Graffiti. A car cannot fire a grappling hook around a pole to make a sharp turn, as seen in Batman.
Making a usable
candle out of earwax, as seen in Shrek, is not possible. It is not possible for a person to punch out of a coffin as depicted in Kill Bill and it is only possible to dig out of a shallow grave with an open coffin.
A car will not necessarily end up
on fire after crashing down a cliff. The shock wave from an explosion will not
throw a person long distances through the air. A car's fuel tank will not
explode if shot with a normal bullet, but it may explode if shot with a tracer round. A person will not be
thrown backwards when struck by a bullet. During a rooftop chase,
jumping into a dumpster may allow survival.
Falling or jumping through glass windows without injury is not realistic.
Quicksand does not exist with the characteristics show in movies.
Carrying a dead body is reasonably easy, but digging a shallow grave is not. An axe is a more effective
weapon against zombies than a gun. It would be difficult to
outrun a large zombie horde, but a barricaded door could stop them. If a car crashes through a
sheet of glass held by workers, the workers will likely be injured. An
SUV will not flip over if hit by an RPG. A large truck cannot
plow through two lanes of traffic and continue undeterred, but it can if it has a steel wedge attached to its front. Most
movie sound effects for punches and explosions are not realistic, but the sound effects for rattle snakes and silenced guns are realistic. It is not easy to drive a car and shoot a gun
while the passenger steers. A driver and passenger in a car can
switch seats while moving at speed, and the passenger can push out an incapacitated driver and continue driving. A car cannot realistically be
driven through a fruit stand or a camper trailer, but it could be driven through a chain link gate or under a semi-trailer. A person can
hold onto the roof or hood of a car while it crashes through cardboard boxes or goes through a car wash, but not while it makes a big turn or zig-zags. If the windows are down, it is easier to hold on to the roof. During a sudden stop, the hood can be held onto but not the bare roof.
Movie gun fights are unrealistically long and running through gunfire does not protect a person from being hit.
Neon signs will not explode in a shower of sparks if struck by a bullet. It is possible to
quickly reload and fire a pistol, as seen in movies. A person can only
hang on to a thin ledge briefly before falling, but it is possible for a single person to rescue someone hanging from a ledge. A
car in free fall will not stay upright. A person can
hang off the landing skid of a helicopter and climb into it.
Star Wars Television
stick of dynamite dropped in a bucket of paint will not fully paint the room, as seen in Mr. Bean. A
shotgun plugged by a finger will not backfire and injure the shooter, as seen in cartoons. A line of
black powder leaking from a barrel may be able to function like a fuse, as seen in cartoons. A
banana peel on the ground is not guaranteed to make someone fall when they step on it, as seen in cartoons. A car can
drive into a moving semi-trailer via a ramp, as seen in Knight Rider. The scene in
The Simpsons where Homer blocks a wrecking ball with his body has some feasibility. The
crab pots used on Deadliest Catch are not indestructible. A manhole cover could potentially be
launched by an explosion to disable a vehicle, as seen in The A-Team. The improvised
cannon made of a log in The A-Team is not feasible. A
mattress floating on water is not effective at cushioning a three-story fall, as seen in Burn Notice. In
Breaking Bad, Walt's machine gun booby trap could work as depicted, but hydrofluoric acid will not fully decompose a body and eat through a bathtub, and Mercury fulminate will not explode if thrown on the floor.
MacGyver Implausible Events
Crime & Criminals
Driving at night without headlights is not an effective way to smuggle contraband. A car door cannot be
unlocked using a tennis ball to force air into the lock. Some
optical fingerprint readers can be fooled by a fingerprint etched in latex, a fingerprint in ballistics gel, and a paper copy that has been licked. A
heat detector can be fooled using a sheet of glass or a fire proximity suit. It will not be fooled by cooling one's body or heating the room, by being covered in mud, or by wearing a diving suit. A
motion detector can be fooled by moving very slowing or by holding a bed sheet in front of you, but not by wearing heavily-padded clothing.
Laser beam detectors cannot be dodged using night vision goggles or cosmetic powder to reveal them, or by pointing another laser at the detector. A thief may be able to
fill a safe with water and open it using an explosive, without damaging the contents. A
police speed radar/lidar cannot be beaten by: jingling a set of keys, hanging a disco ball or CDs from the rear-view mirror, covering hubcaps with foil, lining the license plate with LEDs, using a magnetron, releasing tin foil as chaff, or painting the car matte black.
Climbing an air duct using magnets or suction cups is possible, but too noisy to be useful. Suction cups could also be used to climb a building. Glass cannot be
silently cut open by gently cutting a circle and removing it with a suction cup, but drilling a hole does work without too much noise. A
pressure sensor under an item could be carefully squeezed with knife and then held down with tape while the item is taken. A modern safe cannot be
cracked using a stethoscope, but it could be cracked by drilling a hole and visually aligning the tumblers.
Weather & Natural Phenomena
Physical Sciences & Conundrums
truck carrying birds will not be lighter if the birds are flying instead of standing. A
bullet fired into the surface of a frozen lake can spin like a top after impact.
Swimming in bubbling water may be impossible.
Folding a piece of paper in half more than seven times is possible. A ball
thrown backwards from a moving vehicle, at the same speed as the vehicle, will fall straight down. A lock becomes easier to break when
frozen with liquid nitrogen. Objects of
different mass fall at the same rate. A bullet fired horizontally will
land at the same time as a bullet dropped from the same height.
Diamonds cannot be fabricated by combining chemicals in a pressure cooker, by putting charcoal and peanut butter in a microwave, or by cooling molten graphite and iron. Diamonds can be made, however, by compressing graphite with a huge amount of explosives.
Pykrete is stronger than ice and it can be used to make a functional, but impractical, boat. Dropping
alkali metals into water will not create huge explosions, and sodium and water will not blow a hole in a wall. The tensioned strings in a
burning piano will not pop. A small
car can be lifted into the air by fire hoses.
Greenhouse gases do increase the amount of heat absorbed by air.
Cows emit greenhouse gases and cow manure can be used to generate electricity. An RFID tag will not
explode if placed inside an MRI scanner. Sound waves can
put out a flame, but an unamplified human voice cannot.
Anti-gravity is not possible. A pool of dense gas can make a
tin foil boat appear to float in the air. A
compressed air cylinder can blast itself through a concrete wall, but a boat cannot be effectively powered by one. A car sound system cannot quickly
shatter all the windows; when one window breaks the pressure has a path to escape. A black car will
heat up faster than a white one. It is possible to get free energy using a
coil of wire under a power line, but getting enough to power a house is not practical. A train will not be
derailed if coins are placed on the tracks.
Metronomes will synchronize on a sliding platform, but an excessive number will not.
Soldiers marching on a bridge could cause a harmonic oscillation resulting in a collapse, but it is very unlikely. A
frozen chicken penetrates aircraft and train windshields better than a thawed one. A
glass of water can superheat in a microwave and boil over dangerously when removed.
Walking over hot coals is possible because ash forms an insulating layer and because the contact time is brief. If thrown into a fire, a
fire extinguisher can explode and put the fire out, depending on the type of fire extinguisher. Making a
stun gun that delivers a shock over a stream of water is possible but highly impractical. An oversized
Newton's cradle using wrecking balls will not work.
Fire can be started by a bullet fired from a musket, by polishing a soda can with chocolate, by rubbing two sticks together, by a car battery and steel wool, or by focusing light with ice. Sounds cannot be
recovered from the grooves of old pottery.
Water that has been microwaved (and cooled) is not harmful to plants.
Falling from great heights onto water can be highly destructive, but it still is not as bad as falling onto pavement. Household & Everyday
huge ball made of Legos will break apart when it is rolled downhill. A
needle thrown at glass cannot pierce the glass without shattering it. A
whole coconut can be mailed without packaging. A
strike-anywhere match can be lit by a bullet fired from a pistol. The
heads of many matches can be collected to create a large fireball. Pouring
water on a grease fire will cause a large fireball, but a very large quantity of water can put a grease fire out. A
single grocery line leading to multiple checkouts is slower but fairer than multiple lines. An MP3 player cannot be charged by simply
plugging it into an onion. A
lock can be picked using filaments from a light bulb. A car door cannot be unlocked by
transmitting the keyless entry signal through a cell phone call. A
frozen can of shaving cream will not fill up a car if cut open and thawed. A working
speaker cannot be improvised from a paper plate, a penny, a mini jack, and tin foil.
Leaving on a light is not more efficient than turning it off and back on. To
keep needles from falling out a Christmas tree, Viagra, bleach, and hairspray may work, but urethane, pain reliever medicine, soda, and fertilizer will not. The
heat from Christmas lights will not ignite a Christmas tree. Performing a 360°
loop on a standard swing set is not possible under one's own power, but it is possible on a rigid-arm swing set. A shop vacuum will not act like a jet engine if it
sucks up gasoline. A
clothed snowman melts slower than a naked one. A regular
house fan cannot cause decapitation. Noise may
help plants grow. An ordinary
playing card cannot be thrown with enough power to be lethal.
Dropping an electrical appliance into a bath can be deadly, but modern GFCI devices prevent this. A
makeshift hovercraft can be built for under $500. A
CD can shatter if spun too fast, but CD-ROMs do not spin fast enough to cause this. A household
washing machine does not have the strength to spin a flailing man.
Microwaving metal will not blow up the microwave. Superglue can be used to
attach a furniture to a ceiling, creating the illusion of an upside-down room. Food & Drink
Eating poppy seeds can lead to a positive drug test for opioids. It may be possible to
liquefy the inside of a whole fruit with an explosion and drink from it with a straw. It is possible to
cook a meal using a car's engine compartment. The
tryptophan in turkey is not what makes people tired. Not everything
tastes like chicken; it is easy to differentiate chicken from other meats. You cannot
pop popcorn instantly with an explosion, and popping popcorn with a pressure vessel is not the fasted method due to the required preparation. It is not possible to
swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon without drinking water. A beef
steak can be tenderized using explosives, a cannon, or a laundry dryer.
Swallowing both Mentos and Diet Coke will not make a person's stomach explode, nor will swallowing too much Pop Rocks and soda. A
frozen turkey can crush your foot if dropped, and possibly your dog too. A turkey cannot be
cooked using a microwave radio or a radar antenna. A cereal box does not have more
nutritional value than the cereal within it. Food cannot be launched in the air
through ingredients and flames and land fully cooked. Toast is not inherently more likely to
land buttered-side down, but it could be more likely to when pushed from the height of a standard table.
Dropping a frozen turkey into a deep fryer is very dangerous, but the turkey will not explode. A tin of
biscuit dough can explode in a hot car, but aerosol spray and cola cans will not.
Cola can be used as a cleaning agent to remove bloodstains or clean chrome, battery terminals, or a penny. Cola will not clean rust or greasy/ oily things. It will not dissolve a steak or a tooth overnight and it will not kill sperm. A six-pack of beer or soda will not be quickly
cooled by burying it in sand and igniting gasoline on top of it; salty ice water is the most practical solution. Pain from eating hot peppers can be
relieved with milk, but not with water, beer, tequila, toothpaste, petroleum jelly, or wasabi.
Toilets and Bodily Functions
Germs & Health
Cars & Driving
Drifting is not the fastest way to race through corners, not even on dirt roads. It is possible, but difficult, to
drift into a parallel parking space. It is possible to
drive in reverse at high speeds. One car braking in traffic can cause a
ripple effect that persists.
Changing lanes frequently in traffic can save you time.
Roundabouts are more efficient than four-way stops. It is not difficult to
push one moving car off the road with another.
During a car chase, the fleeing car could escape by deploying a smokescreen or an oil slick. A
hood-mounted machine gun is an effective weapon in a car chase.
Hollow road spikes are effective at stopping a car, but solid spikes are not reliable because they can stick in the tires. It is quite difficult to drive a
car balanced on two wheels.
Driving in heels or snow boots does not significantly impair a driver.
Driving with a full bladder is not as dangerous as driving drunk.
Two cars stuck together nose-to-nose can drive in a straight line and spin 180°, but they can't go around a 90° turn. A burst of flame can be used to
re-seat a tire on its rim, but another method is still needed to inflate the tire. An
out-of-control car can be safely stopped by pulling in front of it with another car and slowing down. A
car with a flat tire can temporarily be driven on the bare rim, or the wheel can be replaced by a manhole cover, stuffed with straw, or replaced with a carved log. Older sports cars were not so badly designed that they are
more aerodynamic if the body is turned backward.
Driving while tired or driving while using a cell phone can be more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. Using a
hands-free cell phone while driving is just as dangerous as holding the phone. A motorcycle cannot
yank the cloth off a banquet table without disturbing the place settings. Driving a
convertible through rain at high speed may prevent the driver from getting wet. A long, fast
burnout will not cause a tire to catch fire.
Two semi-trucks that collide head-on will not stay fused together and conceal another car crushed between them. A
blind person can drive safely by following instructions from a passenger.
Electric cars are not more sluggish than gasoline cars. A
speed camera cannot be beaten by a reflective license plate cover, a magnified cover, a crystallized cover, a commercial spray, plastic wrap, or hair spray. It could be beaten by an extraordinarily fast car.
Shifting into reverse will not stop a runaway car. Driving backwards does not
improve traction on an icy road.
Bracing a windshield with your hand will not keep it from shattering when struck. An engine cannot
run on gunpowder alone.
Used cooking oil can be used as fuel in a diesel engine. A toy car can beat a full-size car in a short,
unpowered downhill race, but it will fall behind in a longer race. A broken
drive shaft dragging on the ground will not cause a car to pole vault end-over-end if it strikes a pothole. A
car's engine will not be destroyed if sugar or drain cleaner are put in the fuel tank, if a coin falls in the carburetor, or if the tailpipe is plugged. It could be destroyed if bleach is put in the fuel tank or oil tank. A
cracked egg can plug a radiator leak and cola can be used as an emergency coolant. Adding
mothballs to a car's fuel tank may increase its horsepower. A car can be
destroyed by a decomposing body and the smell may never go away, but a buyer could still be found.
Aviation & Aircraft
Sports & Outdoors
Human Behavior & Physiology
War & Armaments
Guns & Bullets
bullet fired straight up can still be lethal when it falls to the ground. It is possible to
shoot a bullet through a wall and hit a moving target. A
rifle with a bent barrel can still fire lethally. A
rifle with a boresight left in the barrel could backfire and explode.
Guns work underwater and would also work in the vacuum of space. A gun that is
dropped in a deep fryer will discharge. A
pistol dropped down a flight of stairs is not likely to discharge. A
nail gun is not an effective weapon. Equally-matched opponents in a
fast draw gunfight would likely kill each other.
Silver bullets don't work well, but lead bullets can be engraved and still fire accurately. A bullet can't be fired at a road surface to ricochet up
through a car's floorboard. The standard two-handed stance is the
best way to hold a gun. It is more accurate to
fire two guns simultaneously than to alternate left- and right-hand shots in a two-handed stance. A handgun can be used to
shoot a dropped handgun out of reach of an adversary. A bullet may be able to
ricochet three times and return to the shooter, but it will not have lethal velocity. It is not possible to
shoot a gun out of a person's hand without injuring them. Guns can be
shot around corners with special devices. A person can shoot a target while
airborne after jumping. The sonic boom from a
supersonic bullet will not break glass. A loud car stereo system will not
cause a rifle to misfire, but the shock wave from a bomb can. Davy Crocket could have shot a musket and
split the bullet on a distant axe blade. A
tree can be cut down with machine gun fire.
Cigarette butts fired from a gun can be lethal. You cannot
shoot a hat off a person's head; the bullet will not transfer enough energy. A bullet can be
shot into the empty chamber of another revolver, and two bullets can collide in midair and fuse together. An
Old West gunslinger could not have shot a hole through a silver dollar, fired five times before a coin was dropped to the ground, or saved a man from hanging by shooting the rope. Bullets can generate
sparks when they ricochet, but it's not common. A
bullet could serve as a replacement electronic fuse and eventually heat up enough to discharge. Loose
bullets in a hot oven or a fire will explode, but they will not have lethal velocity. However, a loaded gun in a hot oven can fire a lethal bullet.
What is Bulletproof
Things that can stop bullets:
a fish tank, a block of pykrete, inch-thick polycarbonate, and possibly a police badge, a belt buckle, certain bathroom tiles, and several pizzas in a warming bag. Things that are not bulletproof:
a tape measure, a golf ball, a wallet, a hair weave, a refrigerator door, a car door, a car covered with phone books, an iPod, human fat, human muscle, a mixture of cornstarch and water, an over door, a deck of playing cards, a book, and ¼-inch polycarbonate. Three
watermelons can stop a .50 caliber bullet. A metal
cigarette lighter can stop a bullet only if the bullet has already ricocheted off another surface. A laptop may be able to
block a shotgun blast. A person can
hide underwater as protection from bullets. Explosives & Explosions
between two identical explosions is not safe; rather, the shock waves accumulate. A vehicle containing flammable gas can
explode when it receives a keyless remote signal. C-4 plastic explosive
is stable enough to burn without exploding, even when subjected to falling anvils, gun shots, and thermite.
C-4 will detonate in a microwave only if it is wired with a blasting cap. Binary explosives (Tannerite) in the
trunk of a car will not detonate if the car is rear-ended. When exposed to fire, a
small propane tank can explode and fly high into the air. Igniting
thermite on top of ice will cause an explosion. A large fireball can be created by
a cloud of saw dust or powdered creamer. If a
trail of gas from a leaking car is lit on fire, the fire will not catch up to the car and blow it up.
Diving underwater could make an above-water explosion more survivable. A person can float on his/her back at the surface to improve the
survivability of an underwater explosion. A person can outrun a
trail of burning gunpowder and kick it out before it reaches the source. Aerosol cans and beer kegs
will explode in an open fire, and a keg exploding could cause lethal injury. A stick of dynamite might be able to help
clean out a cement truck, but it will not remove a solid slab of concrete. A person who
lights gasoline in a culvert will be burned, but not blasted out a great distance. A methane
explosion can launch a manhole cover into the air. A
Christmas tree doused with liquid nitrogen will not explode. It not possible to
flatten a car using explosives without obliterating it. An aquarium, a garbage truck, and a bed can effectively
contain an explosion, but a filing cabinet and a steel safe cannot. A wooden table, a car, a metal dumpster, and a cinder block wall can all
protect someone from the shock wave of a bomb.
Dry ice bombs are very dangerous. Unusual Materials & Uses