Mythbusters– Recap & Review – Flu Fiction

photo: discovery channel

Flu Fiction

Original Air Date: Jun 9, 2010

Aeon Cole – TwoCents Reviewer

In this snot and pun filled episode of Mythbusters, Jamie and Adam put several common cold and flu myths to the test while Kari, Grant, and Tory try to determine if a pane of glass ripped from a window in a tornado has enough kinetic energy to decapitate a person.

Yesterday, whoever writes the Mythbusters official Twitter feed described this episode as “the droplettiest episode of Mythbusters ever.” I am not easily grossed out but to write these reviews I watch each episode twice and the second time was definitely worse than the first.

Jamie and Adam test three commonly held beliefs about, well, snot, or as they put it, nasal secretions. Of course my basically being a 12-year-old stuck in the body of an adult heard snot every time they said nasal secretions. But I’ll be good. Anyway, the first two myths were ones that everyone I know repeats constantly. That is, when you sneeze, your nasal secretions travel at 100 mph and can travel 30 feet. This turned out to be very simple to test.

They set up a 30 foot scale and filmed themselves sneezing with the high speed camera. They measured the speed of the droplets that were expelled during a sneeze and determined that the fastest the droplets would go was 35 mph, not even close to the 100 mph claimed in the myth. Next they went for distance. The boys were using snuff to induce their sneezing fits and for the next part after snorting the snuff they each took a shot of food coloring to make it easier to judge the distance. A white sheet of paper was spread out the distance of the scale. After each sneeze, the distance to the furthest droplet was measured. Adam made the record with a distance of 17 feet. This was impressive but only 60% of the 30 feet the myth claimed. The gross-out factor of this part of the experiment was made for me when I got to see Jamie finish out the scene with a green tinted beard and stash from the food dye.

The next part of the cold and flu myth was that when you have a cold, your nasal secretions get absolutely everywhere. They rigged Adam up with a tube attached to his nose and filled with a florescent dye which simulated a realistic flow of nasal secretions. They mock up a party scene with three people who were told that Adam had a “cold” and purposely tried to avoid catching it and three who are totally clueless.

In this first go-a-round Adam does nothing to try to curtail his “germs”. He shakes hands with everyone, passes out food and drink, and basically touches everything. After, they shine a black light on all of the people and the table and everything glows. There are “nasal secretions” literally everywhere. The only one left untouched was Kari who admitted to being an actual germophobe and did everything she could to avoid touching Adam or anything he touched. They then decided to perform this experiment again but this time Adam would do what he could to avoid spreading his “cold germs” around. It was interesting to see that with some simple changes in behavior, it was possible to not spread any “nasal secretions” around.

I am not a germophobe. I have no trouble touching door knobs or stair railing or things like that. I figure that’s what my immune system is for. But I have to admit, this experiment made me think twice. And kudos to Adam and Jamie for getting through this whole experiment without ever using the word snot. You are much more mature than I.

The build team tests if a pane of glass can decapitate a person when flung at tornado speeds. First they need a dummy to toss their glass at. They get a pig spine with the muscle and skin still attached, yeah gross, sew it up and attach a head. Neckman is born. There are several levels of tornadoes, F0 through F5. At the low end of the scale, in an F0 tornado winds max out at 70 mph. So they try this first by flinging glass panes at Neckman by hand. After several misses, Tory manages to reach 70 mph and hits Neckman. There is no decapitation and the glass shatters.

So they decide to ramp it up and go for an F5 tornado with wind speeds in excess of 300 mph. They are able to match the kinetic energy in such a tornado by using a larger pane of glass rigged to the back of Tory’s pickup truck, now dubbed the Decapitruck. They position the glass so it will break free at the right moment and be moving under its own power at the time it hits Neckman.

Tory gets the truck up to 80 mph, the speed needed to simulate the kinetic energy in an F5 tornado, and speed toward Neckman. No surprise that Neckman’s neck is severed. So next they ramp it down to 40 mph simulating an F3 tornado, a much more common type. Again Neckman’s neck is severed. There is a problem though. The high speed shows that the glass is not separating from the rig properly resulting in the trucks mass increasing the kinetic energy of the glass so they decide to go back to the shop build a robot. Their robot rig flings glass with the same kinetic energy as an F3 tornado and after several misses and false starts, they manage to sever Neckman’s neck confirming this myth.

So, there was a lot to be grossed out about in this episode, lots of snot, dead pigs, decapitations. What did you guys think? Leave your two cents below!

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2 Responses to Mythbusters– Recap & Review – Flu Fiction

  1. Jeff L says:

    Rule number 1: When trying to dye your sneezes a certain color — never, ever, ever use RED FOOD COLORING!

    I’ve never almost puked before last Wednesday from watching an episode of Mythbusters.

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