The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 82: Snow Special

Premier Date: June 20, 2007

An avalanche can be caused by… a person yodeling.

busted

While the small-scale experiments indicated that aimed at the right place, an amplified voice can set off an avalanche, in the final test, no amount of yodeling by a professional yodeler could elicit a response. Even when the the yodeler was provided with a megaphone no avalanche took place.

An avalanche can be caused by… the sound of a whip cracking.

busted

Adam theorized that the miniature sonic boom caused by the cracking of a whip could trigger an avalanche, however, no avalanche took place.

An avalanche can be caused by… people firing small guns at the mountain.

busted

This myth was started with stories of World War II soldiers setting off avalanches in heavily snowed-in areas with their artillery, thus using them as environmental weapons. Adam and Jamie attempted to test if lower-powered weapons, such as two MP5s (submachine guns), could also cause an avalanche. They could not get an avalanche to start using these weapons.

Despite the "busted" designation, Jamie emphasized that avalanches are heavily dependent on existing conditions and it’s impossible to tell exactly what will trigger an avalanche.

A person’s tongue can instantly stick to a freezing (below 0°C) metal pole when touched, making it difficult to remove.

confirmed

Using both Tory’s tongue and that of a pig, it was determined that a human tongue can be frozen to a cold metal pole substantially enough to risk pulling some of the skin and muscle off of the tongue. Kari jokingly suggested that a person could free his/herself by peeing on the contact point between pole and tongue.

Driving backwards on an icy road is safer than driving forward because of improved traction.

busted

Although it was found that cars can achieve better traction on an icy road while driving in reverse, the increased traction didn’t offset the sheer difficulty of driving in reverse. Each member of the Build Team drove a different type of vehicle through an icy course and each of them had more difficulty completing the course in reverse than while driving forward.