• Science was never so quirky... Adam Savage on 'MythBusters'. (SBS)Source: SBS
As the show heads into its final season on SBS, we look back at the best myths busted over the years.
Nathan Jolly

9 Sep 2016 - 11:08 AM  UPDATED 9 Sep 2016 - 2:18 PM

We all have those little "truths" we have mindlessly believed for so long that we haven't ever thought to question them. Over 281 fascinating episodes, MythBusters brought a passion for science and a sense of the mischievous, and tested all the things we'd heard over the years to see if they held water. There has also been a fair amount of blowing stuff up!

It was a show with an incredible lust for life - the MythBusters team's excitement for experimentation was infectious, and those who tuned in each week for 14 years found their minds blown over and over again by the debunking of commonly held beliefs.

Could a mobile phone really cause an explosion? Do crusts make your hair grow curly? Was the moon landing real? Why couldn't Kate Winslet move over a little bit and let Leonardo DiCaprio come aboard that Titanic door?

As the final season begins, we look back on the classic myths the team has busted over the years...


Can playing a certain note make you lose control of your bowels?

The subject of a popular South Park episode, and a long-rumoured secret military technique, the MythBusters team take on the belief that a sustained, loud note, low enough in frequency, can cause listeners to - ahem - empty their bowels.

While the idea of this is exciting/terrifying, it turns out there is no truth in the matter. Still, as they note, the vibrations were forceful enough to expel air from lungs, so maybe there is a "vomit note" hiding out there somewhere...

Can a piece of paper be folded more than seven times?

You probably remember this one from school: a piece of paper cannot be folded in half more than seven times. It's a myth that perseveres primarily because it seems easy enough to do, and instant enough to test.

Seven folds doesn't seem like that many, but as you are undoubtedly realising at the moment as you test with that shopping list on your desk, by the fifth fold, your paper resembles a paper dart. Of course, with the benefit of a hangar-sized piece of paper, and a steamroller, the gang quickly bust this myth out of the water. What else were they lying about at school?

Will a penny dropped off a building penetrate your skull?

We've all heard the one about how a coin dropped from a skyscraper would fall at such a speed that it would kill a pedestrian at ground level should they be unlucky enough to be hit in the head with it. It makes sense - or at least seems to: a penny is a small metal object comparable to a bullet, and the speed of it hurtling to earth would surely leave a deathly dent in someone's unfortunate skull, right?

Despite the logic, science suggests otherwise. Even when shot out at three times the speed of sound (!), a penny wouldn't even break any bones. Good to know; impossible to implement into your day-to-day life.

Can a cell phone blow up a gas station?

First things first: Mobile Phone Petrol Station, for us Aussies. Secondly: this myth is one of the most commonly-held in today's society, that a mobile can start a fire at a petrol station.

We have been told by petrol station attendants to put our mobiles away on more than one occasion; there are even angry-looking signs at most stations warning of disasters sparked by even having a mobile phone turned on, but alas, it doesn't take long for the MythBusters team to dispel this one.

"No cell phone will ever cause a gas station to ignite. Just not going to happen", they conclude, which is good news for anyone out there catching Pokemon while manning the pumps.

Can you really slip on a banana peel?

We blame cartoons for this one. At no point in history have we ever seen anyone slip on a banana peel. We're not sure we have even seen a banana peel lying on the ground outside of a school yard, and yet this comedy trope persists.

This is a fairly silly myth to bust, but it's certainly enjoyable to see someone attempt to skid and slide through a sea of banana peels. The results are inconclusive, however they prove that banana peels are perfectly designed to slip on, which is something. Don't discount all your old cartoons yet!

Did Rose let Jack drown after the Titanic sank?

We apologise for the tragic ending to this article, but it appears that Jack could have totally fit on that door with Rose. We all assumed it, the science bears it out, and now we know: Rose is a psychopathic murderer!

Funny how James Cameron digitally fixed some incorrect star constellations for the recent cinema reissue of Titanic, but chose to leave this one untouched. Maybe the 25-year Director's Cut will have a happier ending…


Season 9 of MythBusters starts Sunday, 11 September at  8:30pm (AEST) on SBS 2. After they air, episodes will be available on SBS On Demand

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