The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 224: Indiana Jones Special

Premier Date: January 17, 2015

In this episode, Adam and Jamie explored myths from the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It would be possible to survive a booby trap consisting of wall-mounted poison dart launchers by running past them. (Based on the opening scene in which Indiana Jones steals the golden idol.)


By studying the movie scene, Adam determined that Indy had to run 30 feet (9.1 m) and avoid 16 separate dart launchers to escape the temple. As a safer alternative to dart launchers, Jamie rigged up an equal number of paintball guns that were triggered by pressure-sensitive pads on the floor.

Adam and Jamie built and decorated a mockup of the temple chamber. Initially, a delay of 1 second was added between triggering the plates and firing the guns, to match what is seen in the movie. Adam donned protective padding and ran across the chamber, attempting to match Indy’s posture and speed. He was able to stay well ahead of the shots with the 1-second delay, but when the delay was reduced to almost zero, he was hit in the back by one paintball. Although they essentially confirmed the scene, the myth was declared plausible due to it being a fictional universe.

It is possible to disarm or neutralize a pistol-wielding opponent by targeting the gun hand with a whip.


Adam carefully built a whip to match the length and design of the one carried by Indiana Jones. After finding it difficult to hit a small target with accuracy, Adam and Jamie brought in a whip expert (Anthony De Longis) for training. As Adam held a pistol in one hand, covered by a protective glove, Jamie was able to snag his wrist and pull hard enough to throw off his aim and his balance. The two traded places, with Adam striking at Jamie’s hand. Jamie could feel the sting of the whip even through the glove, and thought that a hit on his unprotected hand would have been painful enough to make him drop the gun. With success in both disarming and neutralizing, they deemed the myth plausible.

The tip of a whip breaks the sound barrier when it cracks.


Adam and Jamie used a high-speed camera shooting at 6,000 frames per second to investigate this myth. After several hours of effort to capture the right shot, they were able to observe the tip of the whip cracking at a speed of 1,200 feet per second (370 m/s), exceeding the speed of sound, which is 1,126 feet per second (340 m/s) at sea level.

It is possible to snag an overhead branch with a whip and swing across a chasm. (Also based on the opening sequence.)


Adam and Jamie replicated the chasm in the movie scene by stacking shipping containers with a 12-foot (3.7-m) gap between them. A thick wooden post, in the middle of chasm and 9 feet (2.7 m) above, represented the branch. After several attempts, Adam was able to wrap the end of his whip around the post and pull it tight; however, when he tried to swing across, his weight caused the whip to release and he fell into the padding below. Jamie then covered the post with sandpaper to simulate the bark on an actual branch, and the additional friction allowed Adam to complete the swing. He and Jamie classified the myth as plausible.