Jamie Hyneman: Tonight we take on the classic myth that a cat will always land on its feet.
Adam Savage: We didn’t want to hurt a real cat so we took this Build-A-Bear carcass…
Jamie Hyneman: Stuffed it with ballistic gel, shot it with a 20 foot barrel steam cannon…
Adam Savage: And made a scatter plot of the remains. Booyah!
Jamie Hyneman: What was it we were trying to prove again?
Adam Savage: Don’t know, don’t care. (does the cabbage patch)
Oh man… gotta love when the Simpsons have awesome guest stars on the show. In “The Daughter Also Rises” (S23:E13), the Mythbusters duo had a funny appearance as Mythcrackers that inspire Bart and Milhouse to do their own myth cracking. Man those crackers that bust myths sure are entertaining. Of course, on January 10, 2015, the roles were reversed and the real-life Adam and Jamie did a Mythbusters episode all about the Simpsons. I thought it’d be cool just to recap the episode for any of you who didn’t get the chance to catch it, want to see my thoughts and/or can’t watch it for assorted reasons.
First off… the episode was a lot of fun. Chock full of clips from the show, it just felt right. I’d hoped it would be made available on Hulu as the previous season is still there but no dice as of this writing. Of course, the lack of screenshots has never stopped me before so here’s a recap, stream of consciousness style, as I re-watched the DVR version I fear may clog up my cable box for quite a while.
– With 30 years experience, the Mythbusters are experts. Controlled experiments are conducted SAFELY, do not try THIS at home. Gotta love that this was shown over a life-size Homer hurtling towards a house hugging a wrecking ball. This is gonna be good!
– Adam and Jamie lounge lazily on a couch with nothing good on TV. Jamie salivates as he eats a donut. So many channels and nothing is on. Oooh… Mythcrackers on the Best. Show. Ever. So Adam says he was thinking they should do their show since they were on the Simpsons. A Simpsons special!
– Al Jean on the show and Jamie doesn’t know he is. Too funny. “Jamie… it’s AL JEAN… the executive producer and the showrunner of the best animated series ever and the longest running scripted show on television… The Simpsons.” He only has 8 Emmys and one Peabody Award. (They overlayed this fact on the screen lol.) For the record Mr. Al Jean, the myth you look like your Twitter photo is officially debunked.
– The Simpsons writing staff is packed 110% with science and math geeks and they try to hold to the laws of physics-ish.
– The Mythbusters take on Bart’s cherry bomb toilet explosion from “Crepes of Wrath” (S1:E11) and Homer saving the Simpsons home by placing himself between the wrecking ball and his beloved home from “Sideshow Bob Roberts” (S6:E5).
– So to make cartoon physics in the real world, Jamie builds a wrecking ball and Adam tackles the dimensions, body mass and water content of a real-life Homer.
– Al Jean lets us know Homer is 5’11”, has a 11 ½ shoe size (almost exactly Adam’s dimensions with less stomach and more hair). Homer weighs 239 because it’s funny.
– Adam builds Homer out of upholstery foam the same way the Muppets are built. It’s called additive foam building.
– Cylindrical discs glued together form Homer’s torso. Adam feels like Michelangelo if he carved in foam and made cartoon characters.
– Homer’s head is made in what used to be ILM headquarters. Legendary machinist Merrick Cheney (made armatures for Nightmare Before Christmas) uses Adam’s model of Homer’s head to make a 8-piece negative space mold for Homer’s head.
– Meanwhile, Jamie uses rebar to make a 2.5 foot in diameter, 5000 pound wrecking ball. He creates a custom drill bit to create molds in the dirt. The molds are filled in with concrete over a steel armature. Made me laugh that Jamie’s one of a kind tool was the easy method while he admits normally it’s done by a much more complicated method using foam and multiple molds/people over a week. He just dug a hole… just saying.
– For the next myth, it’s explosives and toilets on a small scale for the control experiment. Will an explosion travel through a plumping system causing multiple geysers out of toilets? They make 3 transparent toilets, a realistic plumping system and introduce a cherry bomb-like explosion to see what it does.
– While the experimental rig melts Jamie’s brain, it comes out cool. Also some info about the functionality of toilet systems. They’re not full of water… they’re mostly air! The whole thing is a 3 stall concurrent system of transparent loos…a Game of Thrones.
– They use a previous invention of Jamie’s, a pop gun, to simulate the explosion… a release of rapidly evolving volume of gases in a pressure wave. Gotta love science. The test creates satisfying results… just the geyser explosion they were looking for.
SAFETY NOTE from the Fuzzball: Cherry bombs are illegal, messy and dangerous. Don’t mess around with them kids and big-kids.
– Way too funny to see Al Jean sweeping up the mess later.
– Jamie’s wrecking ball is done, Homer’s head comes out great. Homer’s head volume is much larger than ours btw. They coat El Homo in waterproof rubber and the full-size Homer is amazing. They actually sent his measurements to a seamstress to make his clothes too!
– To complete the wrecking ball myth of Homer protecting his house, they build two house sides… one for a control and one for the experiment. To finish the ball, Jamie wire brushes the ball like he does every morning, it’s painted black and ready to be swung at the control house. The ball is exactly five thousand pounds.
– While wrecking balls are synonymous with the construction agency, they’re actually not used much anymore. Thousands of pounds of weight swinging on the end of a cable does not equal precision or happy equipment. That’s why the Mythbusters make their own when they need one.
– The swing ends up being a 40 foot radius to ensure it doesn’t tip over the crane. Adam and Jamie use phsyics and equations (like an hour of tense discussion) to decide on a 12 foot swing. That’s as far as real world physics allow without tipping over the crane. I love the science stuff on this show. We learn there are two types of loads in rigging. A dead load which is static and constant over time and a live load which is an unstable dynamic load with momentum.
– The control building takes the hit from the live load (destruction in potentia) and gets walloped with a 5.5 mph velocity on impact. The energy of impact was 5,051 feet per pound. That’s only over 25 million. Let’s just say I’m happy it wasn’t my house.
– The duo switch back over to the Bart cherry bomb myth with a full-scale toilet system. It’s the exact same setup as the shop test only real world with fully functional toilets and a complete sewage system. They use their own homemade cherry bombs. But will the fuse be put out by the water? Nope. The gunpowder in the fuse actually has all the elements of the fire triangle… more awesome science.
NOTE: After this will be results of the myths so if you truly don’t want spoilers, do not go past the picture I’m sticking below this!
LAST CHANCE… Here thar be spoilers…
– More science… air compresses explosions and water does not. Water delivers a shock-wave to whatever is around it like a hammer blow. The result is the cherry bomb explosion actually blows the toilets from their mounts instead of creating geysers. Agnes Skinner should be super happy she wasn’t sitting on one of these. The fire power of the cherry bomb creates the hammer effect and breaks the porcelain thrones. The water started coming out from under the toilets which negated the geysers. A stunning explosion but possibly a busted cartoon myth.
– Adam and Jamie aren’t stymied though. They secure the toilets more and put the explosion at the lowest possible point of the plumbing system. Optimal for the potential geysers. Unfortunately no force can contain the cherry bomb. The toilets still fly and break. The power from the pressure blast is just too much and something has to give. It must be said that more water flies though.
– Adam Savage: “So… cartoons don’t reflect reality? Wow… This is big… this is… what’s the word? BUSTED… it’s busted.”
– Now back to Homer’s house for the final experiment. Can Homer’s leap of faith dissipate the energy force of the wrecking ball’s impact. Homer vs. Newton’s second law. They attach life-size Homer (filled with water to make him equivalent to 239 pounds of body mass) to the wrecking ball and the test is on!
– Equivalent physics to the control and away Homer goes. I must admit I held my breath for Homie when I first watched this episode. Surprisingly, Homer’s impressive @$$ actually made an impact. The house didn’t escape unscathed but Homer did help. The chimney didn’t crack this time. His heroic effort had a heroic outcome.
– Jamie Hyneman: “Those cartoonists don’t get enough credit for proper engineering.”
– Final scene: Adam and Jamie tell Al Jean the good news and bad news of the tests. Gotta love Al Jean explaining that the school is near a nuclear plant run by idiots. Springfield Elementary’s toilets are “ultra, super reinforced” for potential nuclear explosions… myth not busted. As for Homer, it just proves the show is 100% scientifically accurate. Thank you gentleman.
Honestly, the perfect ending to a thoroughly enjoyable episode of Mythbusters. The format of the show changed this season to show much more of the set-ups for the experiments so unfortunately, it only allowed for two Simpsons scenes to be tested. Regardless of that, it all was super fun to watch and I hope the full-size Homer finds a home someplace cool. I vote for my house lol. You could tell Adam and Jamie respected the show (even if Jamie admittedly doesn’t pay attention to pop culture silliness) and there were so many laughs throughout. The clips they chose to add to parts were perfect. Anywho… I hope you enjoyed the recap. What’d ya think? Catch the episode and have any thoughts you want to share? Love science, hate it, glad others do it so you can just watch? Stay classy and all that jazz… I’m off to see what happens when my little Ewok’s build-a-bear Elsa is shot out of a home-made trash can cannon.
TTFN… Wookiee out!
BONUS: Here’s the trailer again for the show and also an awesome clip where Adam and Jamie answer fan questions about the episode. Tonight’s show is Indiana Jones-themed. Bet you can guess what I’ll be watching.