The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 151: Tablecloth Chaos

Premier Date: October 27, 2010

A motorcycle can yank the cloth off a fully set banquet table without disturbing the place settings.


For preliminary testing, Adam set up a small table and cloth, with a full wine bottle, a glass, and a vase of flowers. After trying several combinations of cloth material and weight of items on the table, he was able to pull the cloth out and leave the setting intact. Lightweight satin cloths gave the best result, and the trailing edge of the cloth had to be flush with the table to reduce friction against the edge.

Large-scale tests were first set up in a hangar at the Naval Air Station in Alameda. A 24 ft (7.3 m) long table was set up with two dozen place settings. In the first test, Jamie hooked his sport cycle directly to the cloth; accelerating from a standing start, he pulled nearly everything off the table. Further trials — first in the hangar, with 200 ft (61 m) of slack and the cycle at 60 mph (97 km/h); then on the airfield, with 600 ft (183 m) of slack and the cycle at 100 mph (161 km/h) — left more items standing, but still overturned several of the settings. Finally, to replicate the results of the video, Adam applied dry lubricant to the tablecloth and put a sheet of plastic between it and the table. Although Jamie successfully yanked out the cloth from a standing start, he and Adam declared the myth busted due to the need to fake the setup.

Humans only use 10% of their available brain capacity.


After Grant consulted with a neurosurgeon about measuring activity in the various parts of the brain, Kari set up a series of four tests targeting memory, calculation ability, decision making, and visual information processing. Grant took the tests as an electroencephalogram recorded his brain activity; the results indicated a normal level, but could not provide an exact percentage since it only monitored activity on the surface of his brain.

For a more representative image, the Build Team visited UCSF to do a magnetoencephalogram study. Tory took the tests this time, resulting in an overall activity of 35%. In a second test, this one involving a functional MRI scan, Tory registered 15% while at rest, but 30% as he told a story with the intent of activating as many areas of his brain as possible. Based on these totals, the team declared the myth busted.