Premier Date: January 4, 2014
In this episode, the MythBusters examined three scenes from the original Star Wars film trilogy.
Adam and Jamie investigated three elements of this scene: the ease of throwing a grappling hook and snagging an overhead protrusion, the feasibility of only using a waist belt for support, and the effect of a second person’s weight on the ability to make the swing.
Jamie built a grappling hook similar to the one in the movie. In a warehouse, he practiced throwing it at a target approximately 30 feet (9.1 m) overhead. He was only able to snag the target after many tries, prompting him to declare this part of the myth plausible but unlikely.
Next, Adam and Jamie set up two platforms 30 feet (9.1 m) apart. Jamie was concerned that using only a belt to support his weight could lead to serious injury, so he did a short test swing only a few feet above the ground, while carrying a dummy. He was able to complete the swing but suffered considerable pain. As a result, this part of the myth was called plausible but agonizing and unsafe.
For the third part, Jamie, dressed as Luke, wore an actual safety harness and performed the full swing first by himself, then carrying the dummy, and then carrying actress Sophia Bush dressed as Leia. Although Jamie described the whole thing as dodgy, he and Adam ultimately the overall myth plausible.
With help from a professional power crew, the Build Team used telephone poles to construct a large structure to hold the giant logs. Eucalyptus wood was chosen for its hardness; each log was 10 feet (3.0 m) long, 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter, and weighed approximately 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg).
The team first wrecked a passenger van with the device, despite not being able to pull the logs back to the full 45 degrees shown in the film. To prepare for crushing an armored truck, they reinforced the structure with steel and adjusted the cable length so they could pull the logs back fully. When released, the logs punched the truck’s side panels off the frame, leading the team to declare the myth plausible. To conclude the segment in a fun way, they put a Stormtrooper dummy in the driver’s seat and targeted the cabin with the logs, heavily damaging it.
Adam sculpted a Tauntaun from a large block of foam and added an outer layer of synthetic skin and fur. Jamie created artificial organs to fill the body cavity and to conduct heat in a realistic manner. They decided to re-use the “Thermo Boy” dummy from the 2012 Titanic episode to represent Luke because it had a circulatory system and a heater to simulate human metabolism.
To simulate the cold climate on Hoth, and Adam and Jamie built an insulated chamber inside a food refrigeration facility and loaded it with dry ice to achieve a temperature of −40 °F (−40 °C). Both Thermo Boy and the organs were warmed to 99 °F (37 °C) and loaded into the Tauntaun, which was then moved into the chamber. Once Thermo Boy had cooled to 95 °F (35 °C) Adam and Jamie started to monitor his temperature. They reasoned that Han might need 2.5 hours to build an emergency, and that Luke would die of hypothermia if his temperature fell to 82 °F (28 °C). At the end of the test, Thermo Boy had only cooled to 92 °F (33 °C), and Adam and Jamie deemed the myth plausible, explaining a mammal carcass is mostly water and has a strong ability to retain heat.