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Old April 16 2012, 04:03 AM   #49
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Re: Heads up! MYTHBUSTERS season premiere tonight at 9 Eastern!

Now the April 15 episode:

"Pirate Swing": The idea behind this seemed pretty plausible in the movie -- certainly more so than a lot of stuff in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies -- but I guess what works on a swingset doesn't necessarily scale up. Still, I'm not entirely sure of their results, because that steel cage seemed like it would be heavier than the bone cage of the movie. On the other hand, now that I think about it, the bone cage would've been a lot less rigid, and thus its deformation would've absorbed a lot more of the force and made it even harder to get it swinging.

I was expecting the weight issue to be a problem with the climbing part, but that turned out to be surprisingly doable, so never mind. I agree with Adam -- it's always cool when things turn out differently than you expected. The part I would've figured was easiest was actually impossible, and the part I thought was hardest was entirely feasible.

Anyway, I love that machine that bends straight pipes into circular arcs. That is so cool.

Rocket cart: A pretty straightforward one, moderately interesting from a physics and engineering standpoint as they explored the adjustments they had to make to get thrust from the pulse jet design (which struck me as basically the same principle as an internal combustion engine's cylinders). And it was kind of sad watching how thoroughly the reality failed to live up to the myth, these poor pitiful "rocket" carts just puttering along. Even at their best, they only got up to 5 MPH, and the gentlest impact the Mythbusters have ever inflicted upon the fences at the Alameda Naval Yard.

It feels kinda like cheating that they had to go with a professional designer to come up with a vehicle that could actually do something, but I guess it illustrated how much more complicated the reality is than the myth. And it was intriguing how much the professionally made pulse jet sounded like a propeller-driven plane, though I bet it was much louder.

One touch I liked here was that the sound-effects editors incorporated some vintage sound effects that were commonly used in the cartoons I grew up watching in the '70s -- first in the bit where the "pirate" acrobats were "teleporting" into the frame, then to accompany the "glowing red eyes" on Kari's hood ornament, and then over one of their title bumpers right around the end of the episode.

As for Unchained Reaction this week, I didn't have a preference, since both teams were fairly equally matched; on the one hand, they both had very clever narratives, and on the other hand, they both failed to exploit the "tools" theme very well. But I don't mind the designers getting the win, since the woman on that team was kinda cute.

And as soon as Jamie proposed a "sticky" wild card, I knew it was gonna be duct tape. What else?
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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