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Old June 11 2012, 03:08 AM   #115
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Re: Heads up! MYTHBUSTERS season premiere tonight at 9 Eastern!

"Duel Dilemma": It's hilarious and fun when they test old sayings like "Never bring a knife to a gunfight." It's just so wild to see them bringing a metaphor to life.

It's also interesting to contemplate how many skills Adam & Jamie have picked up over the years, given the show's insistence that the hosts perform the tests themselves rather than just letting the experts do it. Though I'm surprised that Jamie wasn't already a master knife thrower.

It's also odd that they just used a water balloon as the "knife" substitute, since its mass distribution and aerodynamics wouldn't be anything like the knife. Couldn't they have made a rubber knife or something? Still, it didn't seem to affect the results much. Adam got pretty good at shooting and dodging.

Now, one thing they did get wrong was using a modern gun. Movies to the contrary, the kind of guns they had in the Old West weren't accurate enough for a quick-draw duel to be very practical. A real "gunfight" at the time would've been more like an ongoing shootout. If it comes down to speed, a gunman would probably miss on the first shot (and possibly several subsequent shots) and the knife-wielder would have plenty of time to throw the knife or to close in and stab the other guy.

Which is kind of the gist of the second part of the myth, though they didn't put in in those terms, just in terms of charging someone who hadn't drawn his gun yet. It was pretty interesting how effective charging with a knife was, though it would be harder in the scenario I just mentioned where the gun is already drawn but just not accurate.

And I bet that charging at Adam and stabbing him with a knife repeatedly was satisfyingly cathartic for Jamie...

On the kendo myth that the first person to move will lose, I don't think I agree with their interpretation that it's simply about reaction time. I think it's more about strategy -- being the attacker puts you off balance or forces you to expose yourself, and that can put the defender at an advantage. So I didn't enjoy this part as much as the rest. Although it was kind of funny to see Adam and Jamie spend a day thwacking each other on the head, except that it was really rather painful and not very good for them. And I think it's awesome that Adam basically invented laser tag for swords.

"Fire Dragon": Oh, I love these historical-Asian-weapon myths! And this was really a fascinating one. I guess I can buy their premise that the historical drawings weren't accurate engineering plans, so probably got the details wrong. Still, I wonder if they jumped a bit too quickly to the more modern tailfins and such.

Tori's "quiver" rig for the second stage worked surprisingly well. Usually one expects them to have some false starts, but the arrows launched perfectly both in the bunker and in the desert. When that bloom of smaller smoke trails shot out from the big smoke trail, it was the biggest "Wow" moment I've had on this show in years.

That was a good idea of Tori's (I think it was his, or at least he was the one who said it onscreen) to compare the 2-stage rocket to the rocket arrow by itself to see if it was really an advance, an important part of testing its plausibility as a weapon. Though as they determined in the final test, it didn't have much in the way of accuracy or large-scale reliability. (And I bet the reliability would've been much lower if they'd used period rockets and fuses.) But it seems to me, as they briefly alluded to, that a lot of the impact of the fire dragon would've been as psychological warfare, a "shock and awe" tactic to frighten the enemy. For that matter, simply putting out the word that they had such a weapon could've been potent propaganda.

Now, my question is, what would happen if you brought a knife to a fire-dragon fight...?
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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