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Something went boom in the night. (SLYT)
December 7, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Mythbusters misfire maligns members of Dublin, CA. MSNBC, CNET. Did Grant let NASA do his maths?
posted by TomMelee (250 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
They're lucky they didn't kill anyone.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


That was my thought. I'm just wondering if someone forgot to carry the 1....through the barrier wall, several hundred more yards, through a house, across a highway, off a roof, and into a car.
posted by TomMelee at 8:12 AM on December 7, 2011


Wow, I would have assumed they would have done things like this in much more isolated environments.
posted by Harpocrates at 8:13 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Somehow I find myself more angry at that Cnet columnist for making a living writing words than the Mythbusters.

Can't wait to see the episode.
posted by supercres at 8:17 AM on December 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm surprised that they built a neighborhood that close to a bomb range. The bomb range is literally across the street from peoples' houses.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:17 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reading the description of how the ball traveled, it came across like something out of a movie.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I would have assumed they would have done things like this in much more isolated environments.

The bomb range they test on is nearly a half-mile from the street they were on. According to this article it appears to have gotten enough upward trajectory to even sail that far because on the misfire it chipped the top of a hill and angled up. The continuing damage was because it bounced through stuff on impact.

I agree they're incredibly fortunate no one was harmed, but as far as freak accidents go, emphasis on the freakiness. People are operating construction equipment next door to the building I work at right now, and the odds of a girder slipping off a crane and crushing my entire roof is probably higher than the odds of this having happened.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Threeway Handshake: bomb range was there first, houses built later, from what I understand.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


More local coverage from KTVU and SFGate, which notes that asavage was reached for comment but chose not to say anything.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:20 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's also right next to a baseball field. Don't they have deserts with just miles and miles of nothing for this sort of thing?
posted by Pyry at 8:21 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just checked my home owners insurance and I'm covered for all Discovery Channel related damages except for those involving Shark Week or On the Case with Paula Zahn.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:21 AM on December 7, 2011 [74 favorites]


Can't wait to see the episode.

We will likely see little to none of this episode for quite some time, as I imagine every second of film footage from the bomb range is now evidence in what will undoubtedly be several lawsuits.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:22 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Crazyness.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 AM on December 7, 2011


Here's the bomb range. Houses are certainly closer than I'd want to live.
posted by supercres at 8:24 AM on December 7, 2011


I imagine every second of film footage from the bomb range is now evidence in what will undoubtedly be several lawsuits.
Other then the damages to the houses and cars, which I'm sure they'll pay what would they sue them for? No one got hurt.
posted by delmoi at 8:25 AM on December 7, 2011


Hopefully this will be enough to finally get the show canceled. It got old right around the time they decided that blowing shit up was always the answer to everything... which was somewhere around year three.
posted by datter at 8:26 AM on December 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


bomb range was there first, houses built later,

Right, that's what I find really crazy.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:29 AM on December 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Other then the damages to the houses and cars, which I'm sure they'll pay what would they sue them for?

If anybody is going to see anyone, maybe the insurance company might sue them.
posted by empath at 8:29 AM on December 7, 2011


According to this article it appears to have gotten enough upward trajectory to even sail that far because on the misfire it chipped the top of a hill and angled up.

Hah. Such ricochets were so common when round cannonballs were used in actual warfare, that there's even a theory that Napoleon (who was a gunner first and foremost) was defeated in Waterloo because his cannonballs did NOT ricochet as usual on the sodden Belgian soil, which swallowed them instead, thus protecting Wellington's troops taking cover behind a ridge.
posted by Skeptic at 8:34 AM on December 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I dunno man...if I was sleeping peacefully in my house and a cannonball came hurtling through my window...that might make it hard to sleep I think. Not like you can move your house. I had a traumatic experience when I was 19 that involved people banging on my door after I was asleep and I STILL can't deal with that happening. I can see lawsuits for more than damages, not that I think those folks should win.
posted by TomMelee at 8:34 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Incident vs Accident. Mythbusters got shit lucky, courts don't care about luck. You don't get to go free if you try to shoot someone and miss.
posted by Yowser at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yowser, what are you talking about?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:38 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other then the damages to the houses and cars, which I'm sure they'll pay what would they sue them for? No one got hurt.

Have you ever been part of an accident claim? Even if "no one is hurt" these things can take years. This is what happens in an accident with any amount of physical and/or structural damage to something: everyone and their insurance company sues everyone and their insurance company. Multiple insurance companies, investigations, demanding everyone else pay for said investigations, damage assessments, construction estimates, time loss, punitive claims, "emotional distress," it goes on forever. My brother was a passenger- a passenger- in another person's car accident and lawyers for three different insurance companies called the house for two years.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:39 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Threat, or Menace, YOU DECIDE AT 11 WITH ACTION ADVENTURE NEWS
posted by odinsdream at 8:39 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hopefully this will be enough to finally get the show canceled.

You shut your mouth.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:40 AM on December 7, 2011 [54 favorites]


Incident vs Accident. Mythbusters got shit lucky, courts don't care about luck. You don't get to go free if you try to shoot someone and miss.
Um, citation? I'm pretty sure the penalty for accidentally shooting a gun and not killing someone is much lighter then the penalty for accidentally shooting a gun and killing someone.

Reddit is down right now, but this was posted a while back. Someone's mother died in a factory owned by Haliburton subsidiary KBR. There had been prior safety violations. The penalty: a $15k fine and pretty much no chance for a lawsuit.

Also, yes I realize anyone can sue anyone for anything. I'm just wondering what, exactly, would the grounds be for covering more then the property damage?
posted by delmoi at 8:42 AM on December 7, 2011


So a berm intended to stop things like bullets failed to stop a cannonball? Instead of lodging in the berm like a bullet might the cannonball bounced off at an angle?

If only there was someone to test whether you can bounce a fast moving cannonball off a berm.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:43 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Of course the biggest issue has been dealt with before ... the question of was the bomb range there before the houses.

The leading case in this issue is Miller v. Jackson, and Lord Denning's opening in well worth a read
posted by jannw at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's hope this doesn't turn out to be Mythbuster's last splash.
posted by Flashman at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Last month in one of the behind-the-scenes filler episodes, they were talking about the time they were on location at Esparto and they detonated a large amount of ANFO to test the "Knock your socks off" myth. The blast wave was more intense than they had anticipated and it apparently broke some windows, set off some car alarms, and disturbed some elderly, which was enough to get them banned from using that site again. I hope they're not banned from the bomb range they currently use, as it seems like they're out there quite frequently.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2011


WhyTF are there houses only 700 yds down a bomb range???
posted by DU at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


House Busted.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Since no one was injured, it becomes absolutely hilarious.

C'mon, people. This is real-life Onion material:

"The cannonball was supposed to go through a few water-filled barrels and a concrete wall. Instead, it passed over the barrels, through the wall, and then took a "very unfortunate bounce that sent the ball skyward," Nelson said."

See the damage.

If I were more cynical, I'd think it was an intentional PR stunt.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh and the KBR thing was a completely different situation: the company wasn't liable due to workers comp laws. But the point is "Something terrible happened = massive lawsuits" isn't necessarily a given.

Anyway, I'm not a lawyer, for all I know they could be hugely liable. Or there could be various insurance companies involved (I would imagine that a BOMBING RANGE would have some insurance) that would ultimately be liable? I really have no idea.
posted by delmoi at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2011


delmoi, that thread very specifically addressed that Workers Comp was the sole remedy because of the nature of the thing. If the cannonball smooshed Jamie, workers comp would be the sole and exclusive remedy. If it smooshed a member of the general public...something else entirely.
posted by TomMelee at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2011


If I were more cynical, I'd think it was an intentional PR stunt.
It would be much too risky.
posted by delmoi at 8:46 AM on December 7, 2011


I wonder if they'll still be able to afford the insurance in the future that would let them continue to perform these kinds of tests.
posted by popechunk at 8:46 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other then the damages to the houses and cars, which I'm sure they'll pay what would they sue them for? No one got hurt.

I can see lawsuits for more than damages, not that I think those folks should win.

We don't know the whole story. Even if no one was physically hurt, there's psychological damage ... for which maybe a jury gives them a few grand, but probably not even Mostly, yeah, it's the repair and associated costs plus a PR bonus. They'll get some minor settlement no one cares about.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2011


I made a map of the path of the cannonball, based on the information in the SF Chronicle article.

I love Mythbusters and imagine they are having a very difficult time right now. Wish I could do something to support them.
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


And I'm also gonna guess that the disused bomb range is old enough that it was out of commission before the homes were built. In fact, I bet some of the homes are on part of the land that was part of the bombing range. However, in Florida I lived only about 1 mile from a modern bombing range, and we were rocked to sleep often by the "sound of freedom." heh.
posted by TomMelee at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2011


Hopefully this will be enough to finally get the show canceled. It got old right around the time they decided that blowing shit up was always the answer to everything

It's a very sensationalistic show compared to real science. But it is far and away the most scientific, rigorous, in-depth and informative popular science show on TV, and yes, I'm including NOVA in that. For that, I'll let them have a few explosions for free.
posted by DU at 8:48 AM on December 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm baffled by the popularity of this show.
posted by rotifer at 8:50 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


it is far and away the most scientific, rigorous, in-depth and informative popular science show on TV

Oh and if you don't believe me, try watching some of the shows that tried to rip them off. They are completely awful. Full of testosterone-addled idiots who don't know a damn thing and don't care about science. Whatever else you may say about them, Jamie and especially Adam love science. When he excitedly shouts "data!" he's telling millions of people, many of them kids, how great math and science are.
posted by DU at 8:51 AM on December 7, 2011 [60 favorites]


The father could sue Mythbusters for prematurely using up his children's 15 minutes of fame.
posted by chavenet at 8:51 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they'll still be able to afford the insurance in the future that would let them continue to perform these kinds of tests.

Seriously have you watched the show? Im pretty sure their insurance is already so high they wont notice. They probably wont even have to pay out of pocket to fix anything, and I doubt if they will get sued, insurance is there for a reason and that reason is freak cannon ball attacks.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 8:51 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that they built a neighborhood that close to a bomb range. The bomb range is literally across the street from peoples' houses.

I grew up in central wisconsin, on the path to a bombing range for the military. Not as heavily populated as this, but you'd be surprised how close these things are to houses. The jets that flew over our house were close enough to the ground that we could read the writing on them, just barely over the trees near the house.

This is going to be expensive for the Mythbusters, and i doubt you will see many more projectile type myths covered after this. They are really, really lucky no one got hurt.
posted by usagizero at 8:52 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strangely, it missed the trash cans, tore through a cinder-block wall, bounced its merry way down a hillside, barreled 700 yards through a suburban California neighborhood, smashed through the front door of a house, bounced up the stairs of the house and, without knocking, penetrated a bedroom door where a man, woman, and child were sleeping... The cannonball then bounced its way out through the wall of the house...

This doesn't make sense. If this is a photo of the cannonball passing out of the second floor of the house, then I don't see how it didn't just punch right through the staircase, instead of bounding up it, Looney Tunes style.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:56 AM on December 7, 2011


According to this article it appears to have gotten enough upward trajectory to even sail that far because on the misfire it chipped the top of a hill and angled up.

Hah. Such ricochets were so common when round cannonballs were used in actual warfare, that there's even a theory that Napoleon (who was a gunner first and foremost) was defeated in Waterloo because his cannonballs did NOT ricochet as usual on the sodden Belgian soil, which swallowed them instead, thus protecting Wellington's troops taking cover behind a ridge.


Didn't Victor Hugo put forth a similar theory in Les Miserables about the rain causing Napoleon's loss at Waterloo?
posted by wayland at 8:56 AM on December 7, 2011


If it were my house, I'd just want a check, a personal appearance from Jamie and Adam at my kid's birthday party, and a promise to aim the other direction in the future.
posted by empath at 8:57 AM on December 7, 2011 [26 favorites]


Secret Life of Machines and Acme School of Stuff are orders of magnitude better. If the Mythbusters are looking for a new show idea they need to resurrect Secret Life of Machines. The guys on Secret Life of Machines made a video tape out of scotch tape and rust and the thing worked.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:57 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


For that, I'll let them have a few explosions for free.

The Discovery Channel might not.

I like Mythbusters, but I wouldn't be much surprised if this results in the show being canceled. Obviously MetaFilter has one member who could speak to this much more insightfully than I (if he comments at all on this), but I'd say that if you support the show, now might be a good time to spend ten minutes and 44 cents saying so to the Discovery Channel.
posted by red clover at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I looked at the google satellites pretty close. I think characterization as a bombing range is not accurate. It is an Alameda County Sheriffs Department training facility. It would be more accurately described as a gun range, if you ask me. Since it is police-spec it's hardier than your typical commercial gun range, and given the trends in law enforcement with swat teams and all that I imagine they sometimes have explosives out there but I would bet nine days out of ten all they are doing is firing guns.

I bet this is the last time they ever fire off explosives.
posted by bukvich at 8:59 AM on December 7, 2011


Looking at Nelson's map, maybe they should have aimed their cannon at the desert to the north instead of the houses to the east?
posted by swift at 9:01 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I"d probably just fill the hole in my wall with glass or plastic or something and put a frame around it.
posted by empath at 9:01 AM on December 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Secret Life of Machines and Acme School of Stuff are orders of magnitude better.

Never heard of Acme School of Stuff, I'll have to check it out.

As for SLoM: Yes, it's really great. But if you think they didn't have any uncalled-for explosions, you didn't see the one where they burned a pile of TVs. Not busting a myth or illustrating anything. Just...burning TVs.
posted by DU at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2011


a personal appearance from Jamie and Adam at my kid's birthday party

And Grant and Kari and Tory, too!!!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


D'OH!
posted by Renoroc at 9:03 AM on December 7, 2011


As for SLoM: Yes, it's really great. But if you think they didn't have any uncalled-for explosions, you didn't see the one where they burned a pile of TVs. Not busting a myth or illustrating anything. Just...burning TVs.

Or the one about fax machines where, as the credits rolled, this 19th century fax machine they reproduced short circuited and proceeded to destroy itself in a pretty spectacular way.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the same thing, swift. It seems like the obvious choice from where we're sitting, so I wonder if there was some good reason apparent to those on the scene not to aim north. I hope it wasn't a choice to aim where there was a retaining wall, making it easy to retrieve projectiles that hi it, versus firing off into scrub and desert so far north that locating and retrieving would be much more difficult.
posted by maudlin at 9:05 AM on December 7, 2011


I somehow doubt Adam is going to show up here to comment, but if he's reading I hope he doesn't get discouraged or too much flak about this mishap. You learn via failure. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward.
You've done good things.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:05 AM on December 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Grant did a video AMA for reddit just a couple weeks ago. I think he's going to need a new answer to "What's the biggest screwup you've had on Mythbusters?"
posted by Rhomboid at 9:06 AM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


That google map satellite view of the bomb range is super disappointing. I was expecting a place that resembled the surface of the moon.
posted by JBennett at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, we'll have to see what happens. I kind of doubt the show will be canceled because of it. Why would it? They might stop doing some of the more dangerous 'myths' or do them in more remote locations, though.
posted by delmoi at 9:09 AM on December 7, 2011


I kind of doubt the show will be canceled because of it. Why would it?

Insurance premiums. I'm sure their costs will skyrocket as a result of this, and that increased cost may make the show no longer profitable.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Talk about the worst case of that sinking "oh shit..." feeling you get when something fun just went haywire.

While it was certainly a frightening event for the families involved, think of the bragging rights the kids now have at school. "That Mythbusters cannon went through MY house!! You should see the dent in the stairs. We're leaving it there FOREVER!"

Seriously glad nobody was hurt. I hope that the Mythbusters cast and crew can all take a deep breath and know that a personal apology might help all sides feel better. Don't let the lawyers tell you to "say nothing." If you haven't already, go knock on those doors and apologize. They'll feel better and so will you. If it was my house you damaged, I'd hear you out, work with you to find a solution and then make damned sure you all autographed your work.

And, as I wrote this, I realized that your celebrity and my familiarity with your on-screen personas is what's making me want to give you a hug. The fact that you didn't intentionally do it either was another factor. I'm remembering when my neighbor shot our house when I was a kid. The bullet went through the outside wall, through an interior wall and then lodged in an interior doorway. We were scared and pissed for days. But, the neighbor was an unstable drug addict and not someone as nice as you all appear to be.

Good luck and hugs.
posted by onhazier at 9:13 AM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The bomb disposal range doesn't seem to be all that well located for things like artillery.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:14 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kind of doubt the show will be canceled because of it. Why would it?

TV executives are not what you'd call risk-takers.

The bomb disposal range doesn't seem to be all that well located for things like artillery.

Not only are there houses to the east, there is a huge jail to the west. But for miles around the town there is nothing but desert.
posted by swift at 9:16 AM on December 7, 2011


Here's the bomb range. Houses are certainly closer than I'd want to live.

Although, it's nice to see so many solar panels on the roof of the nearby jail.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2011


> TV executives are not what you'd call risk-takers.

I seriously doubt the show will be cancelled because if this. If someone got hurt, then maybe. But as long as they're pulling in numbers then the network will shell out for higher insurance or tightened requirements.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2011


Ya know, I've never done anything at all in my life that didn't work out exactly the way I planned with commensurate results. That means that Mythbusters screwed the poo . . .

What's that, Mom? I blew up the . . . what? And shot the . . . huh? Ooops!

Seriously, I'd be one to ask them to patch the wall (and it'd get me out of painting it!) and then have Kari come on by for a personal visit. ...and maybe those guys that she hangs around with, too.
posted by Man with Lantern at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2011


What CBrachyrhynchos said: it's a bomb disposal range, fine for blowin' stuff up, but not a place where they really should be shooting off projectiles.
posted by zsazsa at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2011


Does anyone know when the bomb range was put in compared to when those cookie-cutter houses were put in? Those houses have to be under 10 years old. I'm betting the bomb range was there first.

This reminds me of all sorts of places where something undesirable is placed in the middle of nowhere, later on some idiots build houses next door, and eventually bitch about the results. At The Ohio State University a lot of the university's farms for the ag school are located near the OSU airport. The airport and farms were there first. Then houses 20-50 years later. Then the neighbors begin to complain about the smell. The neighbors tend to lose their court cases when the judges respond with "if you don't want to smell pig shit, don't build your house next to a pig farm."

I realize a cannon != bomb. But I still don't feel bad for any idiot dumb enough to build their house near a bomb range. Dumbasses.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:26 AM on December 7, 2011


It's nice to see so many solar panels on the roof of the nearby jail.

All part of the Penguin's master plan to build a death ray and bust out.
posted by rokusan at 9:26 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


A couple awesome clips from Acme School of Stuff I found endlessly fascinating coin acceptors, pulse vs touch tone check out how that crossbar switch moves.modems check out that commodore PET. superheterodyne receivers

Someone should do a FPP on that show.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:27 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Did Grant let NASA do his maths?

What a weird comparison. I have yet to see Grant put anything in orbit, let alone return it to specific point, repeatedly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


For those of you who think that increased insurance premiums will cause the show to be cancelled, we have no idea what other incidents have happened over the years (that were internal to the production and therefore didn't get press) that might have already caused higher premiums. I can imagine that there have been some gnarly crew injuries over the years.
posted by tippiedog at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2011


Not only are there houses to the east, there is a huge jail to the west.

Can you imagine if the cannon ball knocked down the prison wall & resulted in a jail break, with hundreds of convicts roaming suburban streets?
posted by exogenous at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


TV executives are not what you'd call risk-takers.


Indeed. And, they're stupid. SyFy cancelled Eureka because it was the most successful show on their network.

I would not put it past Discovery Networks to cancel Mythbusters because of this. Remember, Discovery Networks are the ones who brought us "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Cancelling Mythbusters would make room for another 'rednecks exploiting natural resources' show like the crab show or the logging show or the ice truck show.
posted by zomg at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


ice truck show.

Or a Glory Hole show.
posted by drezdn at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2011


Reddit is down right now, but this was posted a while back. Someone's mother died in a factory owned by Haliburton subsidiary KBR. There had been prior safety violations. The penalty: a $15k fine and pretty much no chance for a lawsuit.

That story makes me livid. If you or I negligently caused another person's death we would get jail time and be ruined financially. But because the negligent person is a multi-billion dollar corporation, the result is a pocket-change fine and nothing for the victim's family.

Pointing this out is class warfare.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:31 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I stopped watching Mythbusters when they stopped busting myths. I understand that I'm in the minority here, but "what happens to X when we explode it with C4?" is in fact not a myth.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:31 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I follow most of the Mythbusters on Twitter and there was a lot of buildup for the cannon firing then very little to nothing. I thought it was just part of the normal "get you to watch the show" thing but now it seems there was a different reason behind it.

I'm sure they'll get through this. More importantly, it's the nature of scientific experimentation for things to sometimes go wrong and it's important to be upfront about that so I hope they have the chance to explain what happened.
posted by tommasz at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2011


Their biggest mistake was doing this in Dublin instead of Oakland where no one would have noticed anything unusual.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


More local coverage from KTVU and SFGate, which notes that asavage was reached for comment but chose not to say anything.
...I imagine that there's already some legal wrangling is going on over this; what exactly is he supposed to say? I have a hard time imagining that everyone even peripherally involved isn't deeply shaken and upset by the incident, and tremendously relieved that nobody was hurt. Using the "So-and-so declined to comment" bit at the end of an article is such lazy, crap reporting.
posted by usonian at 9:34 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " What a weird comparison. I have yet to see Grant put anything in orbit, let alone return it to specific point, repeatedly."

Reference.
posted by zarq at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2011


Looking at the satellite map, The place is surrounded by empty desert on two sides, and by thickly settled suburbia on the other two.

Protip: When testing its destructive power, aim your cannon in the direction of the desert, not the houses.

Even if you have a concrete wall backstop, an earthen berm and the houses seem far away, it was a phenomenally bad engineering decision to point that thing at civilization. This is a common topic for people contemplating gun ranges on private property - make sure there's no-one behind the range, set up your berm so your shooters are aiming towards the largest possible stretch of empty wilderness. Why? Just in case, that's why. Freaky shit like this happens.

I love Mythbusters, but someone wasn't thinking this through.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The area was much sparser in 1993, and it looks like the bomb range was there at that time. The imagery from 1987 is kind of inconclusive.
posted by zsazsa at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2011


I'd actually say Mythbusters is about as "real science" as it gets for a TV show. The way that they put together their experiments - isolating variables, setting up control groups - is teaching people how the scientific method actually works. That's what science education should be like.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Indeed. And, they're stupid. SyFy cancelled Eureka because it was the most successful show on their network.

More execs should do this. I hate getting tired of originally great shows because the plot gets dragged on and on and on to squeeze every last dime out of the show rather than letting the writers wind things up to a satisfying conclusion.

TV shows should have a pre-planned lifetime of no more than 5 seasons. 3 would be better for most.
posted by chundo at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rhomboid: "Last month in one of the behind-the-scenes filler episodes, they were talking about the time they were on location at Esparto and they detonated a large amount of ANFO to test the "Knock your socks off" myth."

Previously on mefi....
posted by zarq at 9:37 AM on December 7, 2011


> Can you imagine if the cannon ball knocked down the prison wall & resulted in a jail break, with hundreds of convicts roaming suburban streets?

When I lived in Alameda County many years ago, the Santa Rita jail was the women's jail.
posted by bukvich at 9:37 AM on December 7, 2011


I seriously doubt the show will be cancelled because if this. If someone got hurt, then maybe. But as long as they're pulling in numbers then the network will shell out for higher insurance or tightened requirements.

Probably just the opposite. When this airs it will probably be the most-watched Mythbusters episode of the last five years. No exec is going to let a little property damage get in the way of increased viewers.
posted by chundo at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


>> bomb range was there first, houses built later,
>
> Right, that's what I find really crazy.
> posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:29 AM on December 7 [1 favorite +] [!]

People build subdivisions in known floodplains and nuclear reactors in known earthquake/tsunami zones. They're building Naples right up the sides of Vesuvius in spite of having the examples of Pompeii and Herculaneum right there in front of 'em. Vita brevis, memory likewise.
posted by jfuller at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


chundo: " TV shows should have a pre-planned lifetime of no more than 5 seasons. 3 would be better for most."

The problem is, some of the more popular sci fi and fantasy shows didn't really get moving for at least a season or two, possibly three. Buffy. Angel. At least two or three of the Star Trek series'. Babylon Five, etc.
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy: "Even if you have a concrete wall backstop, an earthen berm and the houses seem far away, it was a phenomenally bad engineering decision to point that thing at civilization."

Is it possible that it wasn't pointed at civilization, but rather north towards the desert and took an unfortunate bounce/ricochet?
posted by zarq at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


o test the "Knock your socks off" myth."

I look forward to them testing the "Knockin' Boots" myth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2011


As much we want to pile on the stupidity of the homeowners, the neighborhood is only 35 miles, or less than hour from downtown SF according to google maps. Assuming they get a real break in real estate prices, I might want to live there. Plus all the cool explosions might remind me of midwestern lightning storms. See, its all a matter of how you look at it.

Also, for everyone predicting doom for ASavage and Mythbusters due to insurance: I'd like to remind you of the continued existence of Top Gear. Granted I don't watch much TV but I can imagine from what I hear MB has only just begun approaching TG's budget for insurance and destruction.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2011


Come to think of it, Mythbusters would again be brilliant if they metabusted the myth that "what happens to X when you explode it with C4 is a myth".
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I know they will never test "best birth control" or intentionally test "best anti-constipation method" I think they may have struck upon the easiest "best anti-constipation method" pun they will ever achieve.

"A Cannon-ball smashing through your house, super effective! Myth confirmed"
posted by NiteMayr at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


CONFIRMED.

(I am amazed I'm the first on this thread to say this)
posted by falameufilho at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2011


dammit, NiteMayr.
posted by falameufilho at 9:50 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mythbusters misfire maligns members of Dublin, CA.

I'm a big fan of alliteration, but you're stretching the meaning of most of these words. A misfire is usually when something fails to go boom, to malign is to defame or treat with malice, and you don't usually talk about members of a town, right?

Howzabout Mythbusters Missile Menaces Municipality of Dublin, CA?

</prescriptivist>
posted by zamboni at 9:51 AM on December 7, 2011 [24 favorites]


And Grant and Kari and Tory, too!!!

Only if you want to ruin your kid's birthday with second-rate clowns.
posted by yerfatma at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it possible that it wasn't pointed at civilization, but rather north towards the desert and took an unfortunate bounce/ricochet?


We'll need to see the footage to know for sure, but it's real unlikely... a 90 degree change of direction at the same time it gets enough up-angle to go (literally) ballistic? That's one hell of a bounce. I don't think it would have enough oomph left to go any real distance. (Remember, changing trajectory requires energy.)

You know who could settle the question? The Mythbu... oh, wait.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:55 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"TV shows should have a pre-planned lifetime of no more than 5 seasons. 3 would be better for most."

I dunno, I kinda enjoy that "How I Meet Your Mother" has lasted 7 seasons and hope it goes on for at least another five more because (1) It makes me feel better about approaching 30 and still being unmarried (2) They only produce about 1-2 really good episodes a year (3) The premise/metajoke of a father telling a rambling story to his bored children is getting more and more desperately ridiculous. Maybe HIMYM will become America's Dr. Who.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:55 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad no one was hurt.

That said, this is a spectacularly cool example of how serious cannon fire is in historic warfare. A cannonball - even a non-explosive one - could rip through rank after rank of people and horses. *shudder*
posted by darkstar at 9:58 AM on December 7, 2011


I wonder if any of them will ever do another AMA now? I'm glad no one was hurt.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 10:04 AM on December 7, 2011


Saw this on KTVU earlier this morning, and gingerbeer and I agreed that if a Mythbusters cannonball left holes in our house, we would try to preserve at least one, and make Adam and Jamie and the rest of the crew come over to have their picture taken next to it.

We live less than a mile from their SF workshop, so if a small-scale test goes wrong, we could get lucky!
posted by rtha at 10:07 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I look forward to them testing the "Knockin' Boots" myth.

I believe Kari confirmed that one.
posted by TedW at 10:08 AM on December 7, 2011


Also, I still love the show. I love the science-y bits and the blow-shit-up bits.
posted by rtha at 10:09 AM on December 7, 2011


Every now and then, I think Mythbusters wastes time doing very dramatic demonstrations of the obvious. But, that's good show business and perhaps the dramatic demonstration is a bit necessary to demonstrate the implausibility of the claim.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:16 AM on December 7, 2011


Remember, changing trajectory requires energy

Someone needs to look up elastic collisions. A trajectory change requires force but may only consume a small amount of energy.
posted by unSane at 10:19 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every now and then, I think Mythbusters wastes time doing very dramatic demonstrations of the obvious. But, that's good show business and perhaps the dramatic demonstration is a bit necessary to demonstrate the implausibility of the claim.

There are also the cases when the obvious doesn't work out the way you would think it would. I think the main reason I keep tuning in isn't to see things blow up but to see "common sense" notions get proven wrong.
posted by selenized at 10:20 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd hold out for a visit with Scottie.
posted by whuppy at 10:20 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone needs to look up elastic collisions. A trajectory change requires force but may only consume a small amount of energy.

A collision with a nice soft berm of dirt is not likely to be even approximately elastic.
posted by selenized at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those who didn't learn from the lessons of Kilmer & Prescott in 1985 are doomed to repeat it:
He throws a switch. There's a beat. And then, suddenly, the beam glows intensely brighter, 
cuts through the plate, the cabinets behind it and through the wall out into the night. 
Chris and Mitch jump shut the whole thing off.

CHRIS
Sorry about the wall, sir.

KENT
(looking through the hole)
And the tree across the quad.

EXT. CAMPUS-NIGHT
Chris, Mitch, Ick and Jordan are looking at the laser hole in the tree.

EXT. LIBRARY-NIGHT
They look at where the beam has cut a hole through the head of the statue of Dr. Bradford.

EXT. STREET-NIGHT
They look high up at a hole where the beam went through a telephone pole and then across 
the street, even higher, where it burned through a billboard on top of tavern. They cheer. 
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


> A collision with a nice soft berm of dirt is not likely to be even approximately elastic.

Perhaps there was a huge ass rock covered by only a few inches of dirt?
posted by bukvich at 10:27 AM on December 7, 2011


I have a feeling the show will be nerfed if it survives this...
posted by starman at 10:28 AM on December 7, 2011


Howzabout Mythbusters Missile Menaces Municipality of Dublin, CA?

Pernicious Projectile Projects along unPlanned Plane. Plows Property but Passes Persons, Praise Be.
posted by Think_Long at 10:28 AM on December 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


Dastardly, deafening detonation damages Dublin demographic; denizens demonstrate desperately.
posted by TomMelee at 10:36 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"it's nice to see so many solar panels on the roof of the nearby jail."

Perhaps they're cannonball deflectors.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:37 AM on December 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I agree they're incredibly fortunate no one was harmed, but as far as freak accidents go, emphasis on the freakiness.

This was not a freak accident at all. This accident was inevitable. This is what happens to Hollywood pyro techs. When people who like blowing shit up, get explosives and blow shit up, eventually there's going to be a big accident. Mythbuster's safety precautions are notoriously minimal, based on their estimates of the stunt. Eventually, even pro pyro techs will underestimate a stunt and people get killed.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:42 AM on December 7, 2011


Yeah I wish there was some way for me to show support for those guys. It was a freak accident. They've fired cannons before, many times, at that exact bomb range, with no problems. I mean, there are a lot of other jackass shows that deserve to be taken off air for being idiotic and dangerous. ON the Discovery Channel. (Bear Grylls is probably going to be personally responsible for getting someone killed.)

But Mythbusters, beyond being what is undoubtedly the single most effective driving force in popular culture for getting people excited about SCIENCE, has always been evangelists of taking proper safety precautions.

It really couldn't have happened to a nicer show. :(
posted by danny the boy at 10:43 AM on December 7, 2011


Zwap, zoooom, zmash!
posted by grog at 10:44 AM on December 7, 2011


Apparently soft things being hit hard can prove to be surprisingly inelastic.

Water for example.
posted by unSane at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought they had this same situation happen with the bowling ball canon. The shot ricocheted up over the berm and Adam and Jamie spent a good hour trying to find the thing. You'd think that the lesson from that would have sunk in.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mythbusters is used to accidents. Freak accidents. Accidents of this scale? Perhaps not. But I know that the Discovery Channel lawyers keep a close eye on any capital-I-Incidents that happen at Mythbusters, and aren't afraid to shut down a production they deem a liability risk—or at least threaten to do so. The staff is professional and knows how to handle the inevitable accidents that happen when your TV show involves blowing shit up.

Not that I know from, say, personal experience or anything.

What I'm saying, is: there are surely incidents kept under wraps which have already knocked the insurance rates through the roof. I'm not an expert, and this much is pure conjecture, but I doubt this incident alone will get MythBusters taken off the air. If insurance were Discovery's concern, they would have been gone long, long ago.

I could be wrong.
posted by good day merlock at 10:51 AM on December 7, 2011


Maybe now they'll do myths that aren't all gun or explosion-related. Those are always the best ones anyway.

Even though it'd alienate their key demographic.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:52 AM on December 7, 2011


Like scenario - proposal for cannonball, set up at bomb range overseen by ballistics experts (anything involving explosives on that show gets looked at by other eyes), accident happened. Discovery's insurance pays out.
posted by plinth at 10:58 AM on December 7, 2011


And honestly, all the focus in this thread is about the show/Adam & Jamie, and their culpability, but... christ, they were at a training facility run by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, who were on site supervising. They literally had the bomb squad there.

They are professionals with experience, and they had professionals with experience watching them.
posted by danny the boy at 10:59 AM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here is the viewer relations contact page.
posted by plinth at 11:01 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're what you call experts.
posted by found missing at 11:01 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


> there are surely incidents kept under wraps which have already knocked the insurance rates through the roof

Adam was asked about this this year at I think the San Mateo Maker Faire and he replied that no one had been blown up/set on fire but someone had injured a hand (finger?) moving the really heavy blast shields around.
posted by morganw at 11:01 AM on December 7, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: " What a weird comparison. I have yet to see Grant put anything in orbit, let alone return it to specific point, repeatedly."

Reference.


The bad math was by Lockheed Martin, not NASA. The contract specified that Lockheed Martin was to provide navigation data in metric, and they did not. (Admittedly, while somebody at NASA did notice that something funny was going on, there wasn't time to follow up. And so, another nail in the coffin of the Faster Better Cheaper paradigm.)
posted by BrashTech at 11:04 AM on December 7, 2011


Adam was asked about this this year—well, that's not really keeping it "under wraps," is it?

And I'm not talking about death, or grievous physical injury, but just accidents, close escapes, unintentional property damage, etc. I'm not advocating some large conspiracy! Just saying Mythbusters's stunts can be dangerous, and accidents will inevitably occur. Just most of these accidents don't involve a cannonball hopping a fest and plowing into a bedroom, so they aren't national news. Or news at all.
posted by good day merlock at 11:13 AM on December 7, 2011


News from the near future: "Manly Mythbusters manhandle major misfire, their mantra of missing mistakes mostly mangled; may manage to mantain manifold marketable myths. Maybe."
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:16 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I didn't use the word "mantastic" even once! A word the use of which, without consulting the mods, I assume, in the name of all that is good and holy, is cause for instant banhammer.

Or did I mean "manhammer"?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2011


Remember, Discovery Networks are the ones who brought us "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

I'd watch that, if every episode featured a rogue cannonball.
posted by rokusan at 11:20 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Manly Mythbusters manhandle major misfire, their mantra of missing mistakes mostly mangled; may manage to mantain manifold marketable myths. Maybe."

Peter King just experienced a moment of pure ecstasy. Possibly.
posted by drezdn at 11:26 AM on December 7, 2011


A cannon is not a bomb. Shooting one at a direction of habitation that is well within range is inadvisable. This is why.
posted by Authorized User at 11:27 AM on December 7, 2011


20/20 hindsight.....
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on December 7, 2011


I'd settle for the cannonball.

As in, "I won't sue you if you repair the damage to the house, and the cannonball gets mounted in a nice display with all the mythbusters signatures."
posted by madajb at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just saying Mythbusters's stunts can be dangerous, and accidents will inevitably occur.

I remember one episode in which Adam was supposed to do a stunt, but he was told at the last minute that the insurance company wouldn't let him do it and Tory would have to do it instead. I've always wondered if that was because Adam is more famous and crucial to the show, or because Tory is younger and in better shape.

Also: it's well-known that professional wrestlers don't have any sort of company insurance. I'm not saying that's a model that the Discovery Channel should emulate, but not everything dangerous that you see on TV is insured.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:47 AM on December 7, 2011


the doomsayers and armchair quarterbacks are thick in this thread.
posted by nadawi at 11:47 AM on December 7, 2011


New in the Discovery.com GiftShop: MythbustersTM-branded protective gear for the whole family! 'Thanks to the miracle of space-age poly fibres, you will have nothing to worry about should we be filming in your area!' says Adam. 'Yes, you'll be as well-padded as one of our episodes,' adds Jaime.

The other 80% of the commercial consists the voice-over guy repeating what just happened four fucking seconds ago and Grant and Tory talking in a casually stilted manner and generally wasting my goddamn time.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:48 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like the idea of the show, but it's painful to watch. It could easily be cut down to 10-15 minutes.
posted by desjardins at 12:02 PM on December 7, 2011


Mustered Media Blusters: Mythbusters lose luster from futzy ball blaster.

this is fun.
posted by Think_Long at 12:02 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does anyone need me to draw them a map to the fast forward button on their DVR remote?
posted by found missing at 12:12 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think characterization as a bombing range is not accurate.

And honestly I bet the neighbors are already pretty pissed at Mythbusters just setting off explosions in the middle of the day for TV all the time. A bomb disposal range isn't exactly something that is going to get used for its stated purpose that often given how few bombs show up in the world.

I wouldn't be surprised if there is a county-level investigation and the Mythbusters get kicked out into the country.
posted by smackfu at 12:37 PM on December 7, 2011


If it were my house, I'd just want a check, a personal appearance from Jamie and Adam at my kid's birthday party, and a promise to aim the other direction in the future.
posted by empath at 11:57 AM on December 7 [13 favorites +] [!]


If it were my house, I'd punch cannon ball sized holes in all of the rooms I wanted to remodel and say it bounced everywhere.
posted by Maisie at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Bear Grylls is probably going to be personally responsible for getting someone killed.)

Seriously. That guy is a dangerous hack. I remember one episode he did in the Sonora Desert where the first thing he did was dive blindly and head first into the undergrowth to rip out dry grasses and shrubs for some kind of mattress. Which is a great way to get bit by a rattlesnake or stung by one of Arizona's infamous Bark Scorpions. The second thing he did was set up camp in a bare-sand wash or arroyo. Bare sand = recent flooding = do not fall asleep there even if you think it isn't going to rain, you dummy. The third thing he did was start a fire. In the middle of dry desert grass and scrub land. Because, yeah, if it's winter near Phoenix it's going to get down to a chilly 60 degrees at night.

I note this is an episode where he didn't drink his own piss, when what he really should have been seeking first is a source of water before he was too dehydrated to move. Not scrabbling about barehanded in the undergrowth. (GRAR HE MAKE ME SO ANGRY.)

I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't already killed someone through misleading advice.

Back on topic:

For obvious reasons we probably won't be hearing from asavage in this thread. Until the dust and legal obligations are settled it would be wise to not say anything.

Having watched a whole lot of Mythbusters episodes, as well as making-of clips and the revisited episodes and all that - yeah, they seem to cut a lot of corners on safety. Remember that "bullet proof" screen they used for the first few seasons? Well, they tested it and much to their collective alarm it wasn't even close to bullet resistant, and would have only offered minimal protection in the case of a stray bullet or shrapnel from an explosion.

The hot water heater tank explosion in particular would have gone through it like tissue paper, among others.

On the other hand they actually seem to have a pretty good safety record considering what they're doing. I often have issues with their science and wish they'd hire me to consult on stuff - but all in all it's a great show. Sure, maybe the explosions dominate the Mythbusting, but that's basically all Bill Nye did, either. Blow things up and break them... with science!
posted by loquacious at 12:40 PM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is it possible that it wasn't pointed at civilization

As the range is in Dublin, it is a certainty.
posted by zippy at 12:42 PM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Another one is the coffee cream fuel-air bomb they tested where they realized halfway through the explosion that they were nowhere near far enough away for proper safety.
posted by smackfu at 12:43 PM on December 7, 2011


I think that's at the same range too... imagine seeing that fireball go up in the sky...
posted by smackfu at 12:45 PM on December 7, 2011


I like the idea of the show, but it's painful to watch. It could easily be cut down to 10-15 minutes.

Gotta watch it with a DVR and fast-forward through all the puffery. I understand why its edited so that the myth condition is constantly reset and restated ("The guys are attempting to show what happens when..."). But I can't fucking stand it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:56 PM on December 7, 2011


Strangely, it missed the trash cans, tore through a cinder-block wall, bounced its merry way down a hillside, barreled 700 yards through a suburban California neighborhood, smashed through the front door of a house, bounced up the stairs of the house and, without knocking, penetrated a bedroom door where a man, woman, and child were sleeping... The cannonball then bounced its way out through the wall of the house...

This doesn't make sense. If this is a photo of the cannonball passing out of the second floor of the house, then I don't see how it didn't just punch right through the staircase, instead of bounding up it, Looney Tunes style.
posted by Rock Steady


The only explanation I can think of is that it had an ungodly amount of angular momentum, so that whenever it encountered anything substantial and not horizontal, it jumped up into the air.

It didn't so much bounce as run over things like a dragster with wheels spinning faster than its forward velocity.
posted by jamjam at 12:56 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


As I think about it, it's clear to me a cannonball being shot from a barrel not pointing absolutely vertically would be sitting on the lower side of the barrel in the horizontal direction it pointed, which would mean that the biggest air gap the combustion gases escaped through would be at the top of the ball, and that would give the ball absolutely enormous topspin as it cam out of the gun.
posted by jamjam at 1:06 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm amused by the Google Maps-based cartographers: while it is largely uncivilized, the area north of the bomb range is at the time of the flyover not desert but brown hills: historically its said that the area was named after Dublin Ireland for its lush green hills of fall through early spring. 'how it goes out in the Northern Republic of California grasslands: green a few damp months and then goes all tawny.

Bukvitch confuses Santa Rita Jail, which being a jail is a county facility and FCI Dublin which is the Federal Women's facility just to the west. Both still operate. When I was a kid, Camp Parks was all off by itself in Dublin and the prison was still housed in barracks. I was always amazed at the fact that not only housing but commerce all sprung up around the jail, but in my new hometown jail's just another high-rise downtown, so go figger...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:08 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because, yeah, if it's winter near Phoenix it's going to get down to a chilly 60 degrees at night.

Average lows in phoenix are more like 45 degrees. It won't kill you, but a fire would be nice.
posted by empath at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2011


You guys are talking about Phoenix, which is a heat island. Get out into the desert, and things can get uncomfortably chilly on a winter night. Especially if all you have to drink is your own pee.
posted by found missing at 1:15 PM on December 7, 2011


"Well, there's your problem..."
posted by 4ster at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: all you have to drink is your own pee.

What?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only explanation I can think of is that it had an ungodly amount of angular momentum, so that whenever it encountered anything substantial and not horizontal, it jumped up into the air.


And spin, it's spinning like an insane gyroscope, probably on more than one axis. Lots of momentum stored up in that little sucker.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:24 PM on December 7, 2011


Average lows in phoenix are more like 45 degrees. It won't kill you, but a fire would be nice.

I lived there for two years. A low of 45 was an extremely rare scenario, and judging by the thickness and color of vegetation he was out there in late summer or early fall anyway, so he wasn't in any danger of freezing or suffering even mild hypothermia.

But my main point being is that starting a fire in thick grass scrub where/when he did is really dumb and a great way to start a wildfire, which you really, really don't want to deal with especially in a real survival situation - and it's a completely fucking useless waste of energy, like everything else he was doing for "desert survival". It was all made up bullshit that sounded good for TV.

Worse, it was like a case study in exactly what you should not do if you're trying to survive in the desert.

You guys are talking about Phoenix, which is a heat island. Get out into the desert, and things can get uncomfortably chilly on a winter night.

I'm talking about the area north of Phoenix, near Agua Fria off the 17. Elevation is under 2,000-3,000 feet. It's the edge of the lower Mogollon Rim. I could probably pinpoint the location he was using within a few square miles. Here's a desert survival tip: If you can see a Saguaro cactus nearby, it's probably never going to freeze there. They don't grow where it frosts.
posted by loquacious at 1:26 PM on December 7, 2011


The problem is, some of the more popular sci fi and fantasy shows didn't really get moving for at least a season or two, possibly three. Buffy. Angel. At least two or three of the Star Trek series'. Babylon Five, etc.

Of course, Babylon 5 did have a pre-planned lifetime of five seasons, though it was lucky to get renewed for the fifth.
posted by Gelatin at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2011


They don't grow where it frosts.

That's just not true.
posted by found missing at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2011


Bear Grylls...ha! Survivor Man is the real deal.

On topic: this isn't the first time that the Mythbusters have caused property damage. As noted upthread, there was the time that they shattered windows and knocked a woman off of her couch when they were trying see how much explosive power it would take to literally knock your socks off. Of course, in that instance, the "victims" of the incident seemed kind of thrilled to have been a part of the Myhtbusters experience, however tangentially.

However, this is probably the first time that they've genuinely put the public at risk (intentionally or not).
posted by asnider at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2011


Bear Grylls is probably going to be personally responsible for getting someone killed.

Survivorman was a good show, though. As was Science of Survival (I only watched the episode with Mykel Hawke, who is a certified badass and someone I'd want to be trapped on an island with).
posted by desjardins at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's spinning like an insane gyroscope, probably on more than one axis

I'm trying to picture a sphere spinning on more than one axis and I think I broke my brain.
posted by exogenous at 1:34 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Get out into the desert, and things can get uncomfortably chilly on a winter night. Especially if all you have to drink is your own pee.

That gives an entirely different meaning to Baby, It's Cold Outside.
posted by The World Famous at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apparently soft things being hit hard can prove to be surprisingly inelastic.

Water for example.


True.

My internal gauge for this is that the COR for a golf ball on a driver is about 0.8, so the claim that a cannon ball hitting dirt is an elastic collision becomes, in my head, the question of whether or not a cannon ball hitting dirt is more elastic than a golf ball being hit by a driver. I find that hard to believe.

I would suggest this to be an upcoming myth, but it might be kind of tasteless considering.
posted by selenized at 1:38 PM on December 7, 2011


I'm trying to picture a sphere spinning on more than one axis and I think I broke my brain.

Maybe a sphere that is spinning, but also precessing? Like when a spinning top starts to slow down and it is spinning but also wobbling in a big circle.
posted by selenized at 1:40 PM on December 7, 2011


That gives an entirely different meaning to Baby, It's Cold Outside.

Say, what's in this drink?
posted by waraw at 1:40 PM on December 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


...I imagine that there's already some legal wrangling is going on over this; what exactly is he supposed to say? I have a hard time imagining that everyone even peripherally involved isn't deeply shaken and upset by the incident, and tremendously relieved that nobody was hurt. Using the "So-and-so declined to comment" bit at the end of an article is such lazy, crap reporting.
Huh? What are the reporters supposed to say? They asked him to comment and chose not too. It's not too surprising, Discovery's lawyers have probably told him not to say anything.

Also I do not understand the "insurance premiums will cause them to cancel the show!" thing. There are lots of things they could do to decrease risk besides canceling the show. It's not an on/off switch of "let Adam and Jamie do whatever they want"

For one thing they could just do their explosions farther away from civilization.

Also people, this is not some horrible tragedy. It was an embarrassing mistake.
posted by delmoi at 1:44 PM on December 7, 2011


This doesn't make sense. If this is a photo of the cannonball passing out of the second floor of the house, then I don't see how it didn't just punch right through the staircase

Doesn't seem that surprising to me.

Staircase = lots of wood and nails, with long depths of wood running almost parallel to the projectile's direction of flight, reinforced to take some serious weight without complaint.

Wall = drywall, insulation, tyvek, and sheathing, unless it happens to hit a stud.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:49 PM on December 7, 2011


Agree that Survivorman is better than Bear Grylls. Survivorman doesn't actually have a staff of people helping him out, which provides Grylls not only logistical support, but also the psychological boost of knowing you're not alone/isolated. That's often one of the most distinguishing factors of being lost in the wilderness.

Just as an aside it gets pretty darn unbearably cold at night here in Phoenix during the winter and the desert wind can really do a number on you if you don't have cold weather gear and/or a fire going. We've had a cold snap this past week when the lows at night were in the thirties and we usually have a few weeks in January when it frosts. That's here in the heat island, and it can get colder in the surrounding area. Nothing like the winters I went through up north or back east, but still, yeah, a fire is a good thing at night.
posted by darkstar at 1:52 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are several, unrelated reasons why this incident could lead to the network canceling the show, and insurance cost is just one. I'm not saying it will happen; I don't have any particular information about Discovery or the production of this show. But at certain other networks, especially with the budgets that I imagine Discovery is working with, this would end the show. Its popularity is relevant, sure. But the longer a show has been successful, the less weight its success carries. The network already has X-number of episodes to air whenever they please, and the older a show (presumably) the sooner it will retire anyway.

professional wrestlers don't have any sort of company insurance.

If the Undertaker throws CM Punk out of the ring and Punk breaks his leg, then sure, he's relying on his own health insurance for treatment. However, if the Undertaker throws a chair at Punk and it bounces into the crowd and onto some fan's head, both WWE and the venue have insurance that should apply. The latter is more analogous to Discovery's costs in this incident.
posted by red clover at 1:55 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's just not true.

A mature one can survive light frost, but they don't grow where it freezes or regularly frosts. Citation: The range of the saguaro is limited by freezing temperatures in winter.
posted by loquacious at 1:55 PM on December 7, 2011


A low of 45 was an extremely rare scenario

It's the average recorded temperature for downtown Phoenix in December. Which means it gets colder than that. And that's in downtown Phoenix, which is warmer than the desert.
posted by empath at 1:58 PM on December 7, 2011


For the record, the Discovery Channel does not own Mythbusters. They are owned by the Australian production company, M5 Industries. M5 owns and produces the show. Discovery puts in the orders for episode and M5 makes it happen. My point being any insurance premium increases are going to hit M5, not Discovery.

Also of note, interestingly the quoted Alameda Sheriff's officer quoted, JD Nelson, is this man. JD has been on many many episodes in Mythbusters. He's the bomb man! In the show when they are dealing with high explosives JD is usually the man setting the stuff up. I'm sure he must have been at the bomb range supervising the events.
posted by matt_od at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Comical cannonball careens crazily, causes California community copious consternation and confusion concerning calamitous collision ... crestfallen cops and contrite co-hosts called careless, can't comment

Fun game.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 2:28 PM on December 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


There are several, unrelated reasons why this incident could lead to the network canceling the show, and insurance cost is just one. I'm not saying it will happen; I don't have any particular information about Discovery or the production of this show. But at certain other networks, especially with the budgets that I imagine Discovery is working with, this would end the show. Its popularity is relevant, sure. But the longer a show has been successful, the less weight its success carries. The network already has X-number of episodes to air whenever they please, and the older a show (presumably) the sooner it will retire anyway.

I have a hard time imagining Discovery rerunning episodes of a cancelled show. Second, Mythbusters over the years has evolved in many different ways to maximize ratings, from how the myths are presented to the formation of the 2nd myth team to the ever higher numbers of episodes per season to how episodes are tweaked to appear new when they're not.

Also, regarding SciFy, they rarely, if ever, pay for 5 seasons of anything. Stargate, the only exception I can see to this, was on Showtime for 5 seasons before making the leap to SciFi, where they got 5 seasons and a few direct to DVD movies.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:45 PM on December 7, 2011


NSWCDD's test range information. (.pdf)

The Almeda range is in a better place than this "range" that the US Navy tests on. You know, the range is called the friggin' Potomac River. I know of hundreds of windows that have been broken by this testing, and I'm positive there are more homes near this "range" than the Alameda one. Accidents happen. This was a freak one, I sure hope that Mythbusters is able to continue after this.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:51 PM on December 7, 2011


A cannon ball flying through a residential neighborhood is not an embarrassing moment, it's a fucking disaster.

I'm certain they are forever grateful that it miraculously didn't hurt or kill anyone, and are already planning to ensure that nothing this preposterously dangerous is ever possible in future tests and experiments.

They appear to be a group of good people, which just amplifies my disappointment in them that this was allowed to happen.
posted by dglynn at 2:56 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wall = drywall, insulation, tyvek, and sheathing, unless it happens to hit a stud.

Wait, I thought jonmc lived in New York.

sorry but it was right there
posted by waraw at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2011


loquacious, if you think you're escaping risk of freeze or frost just because you're staring at a saguaro, you're wrong. That doesn't mean that saguaros can withstand extensive freezes or prolonged hard frosts. But, freezes and frosts do occur in the Sonoran desert. So, wear your parka.
posted by found missing at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2011


First (?) public statements, coming six minutes apart on Twitter: Grant, Tory, and Kari. Pretty obviously coordinated. At least it's not the exact same text.
posted by supercres at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2011


‘MythBusters’ Show Suspended After Stunt Sends Cannonball Through House.
posted by pibeandres at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit.
posted by darkstar at 3:29 PM on December 7, 2011


Well, at least the Grant/Tory slash fiction will have a new twist for the angst storylines.
posted by darkstar at 3:32 PM on December 7, 2011


Dammit.

Putain!
posted by zomg at 3:35 PM on December 7, 2011


Does anyone need me to draw them a map to the fast forward button on their DVR remote?

It's just after the intersection of Flagit & Scrolldown, no?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:41 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Barely 175 comments from "stray cannonball hits two houses and minivan" to arguing over the weather in Phoenix. Amazing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:42 PM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Amazing.

but.... I found something wrong on the internet!
posted by found missing at 3:46 PM on December 7, 2011


I wonder if they'll face prosecution for this. Firing a cannon into a residential area can't be legal, even if it was an accident.

It's no wonder they're refusing to talk about it; likely that was the very first thing their lawyers told them.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:58 PM on December 7, 2011


No, no, no, I said myth busters, not dam busters (bouncing bomb).

Bonus video: serious angular momentum.
posted by zippy at 3:59 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if they'll face prosecution for this. Firing a cannon into a residential area can't be legal, even if it was an accident.

Maybe? But it was on county land, with county permission and knowledge, and the supervision/assistance of the county sheriff's head explosives guy. I guess if they get prosecuted - not just sued, but face criminal charges - then the county will likely have to come into it as well. That would surprise me.
posted by rtha at 4:04 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


How to Hunt Wisconsin Whitetail Deer with a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon

"In the event that you 'do' have unscheduled on-lookers while you are field dressing the deer, (especially if a Game Warden happens by) be ready to explain to him that you got very, very, excited and that you kept shooting your "12 gage shotgun" until the deer finally went down. Tell him you fired 'at least as many times as you find holes in the deer'.
posted by zippy at 4:10 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


12 pounds, nothing.

If I did my math correctly, and if it was a solid 6-inch sphere of iron, then it weighed 32 pounds.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:17 PM on December 7, 2011


‘MythBusters’ Show Suspended After Stunt Sends Cannonball Through House.

The suspension of the show for a full investigation is a good move, and it expresses concern for what was a very serious accident. All the same, though, this made me very sad.
posted by meese at 6:20 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a very sensationalistic show compared to real science. But it is far and away the most scientific, rigorous, in-depth and informative popular science show on TV, and yes, I'm including NOVA in that. For that, I'll let them have a few explosions for free.

On AMERICAN television, you mean.

Time Team had a death on location. They aired the episode, and the show is still going.
posted by Chuckles at 6:33 PM on December 7, 2011


MercuryNews: 'Mythbusters' cannonball accident leaves questions, worries and repairs
A day after their errant 30-pound cannonball blew holes through a Dublin home and smashed a minivan's window, the stars of the "Mythbusters" TV show visited the families to apologize.

The cannon shot made headlines around the world, but residents here have been left with questions, worries, and a few repairs.

On Wednesday afternoon, outside the damaged Cassata Circle home, hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman promised to make repairs. And they said their show won't use cannons at the Alameda County Sheriff Office's bomb range again. If a cannon is needed, they will take it to less-populated areas of the Gold Country.

A few minutes later, they paused to take photos with the children in the family whose minivan was smashed, at the corner of Bellevue Circle and Springvale Drive -- across Tassajara Road, several hundred feet from the cannon-shot home.

"I can't imagine how angry I would be if this happened to me," Savage said. "We do nonstandard things all the time and we've been doing them safely for nine years ... this is the worst thing we can imagine happening."

They're not yet sure how it happened. They also weren't there when the cannon was shot; the experiment was being conducted by other cast members.

"We haven't figured out why the cannon was aimed slightly high," Savage said. "It's a wake-up call."

The episode they were working on aimed to determine whether a stone cannon could breach a castle wall. But the misfired cannonball was a test shot, a 30-pound ball of iron or steel, Hyneman said.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:50 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


D'oh, sorry for the dupe.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:51 PM on December 7, 2011


Let's take a moment to acknowledge that Time Team is absolutely the best show ever made.


I wish I could find more episodes of it; it's hard to find in the US.
posted by meese at 7:10 PM on December 7, 2011


Strangely enough, Mythbusters is tops with Republicans. I hope they do global warming as their last ever myth.
posted by rosswald at 7:23 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Their biggest mistake was doing this in Dublin instead of Oakland where no one would have noticed anything unusual.

Oh, ha ha ha. You're right, the level of gun violence in Oakland is just hilarious.
posted by Lexica at 8:10 PM on December 7, 2011


Oh, Adam, everyone, I'm so sorry.
posted by Zed at 8:36 PM on December 7, 2011


A cannon ball flying through a residential neighborhood is not an embarrassing moment, it's a fucking disaster

No, it's fucking not.

The Hindenburg catching fire and crashing was a disaster. TWA 800, AA 191, and JAL 123 were disasters. The fall of 1 & 2 WTC was a disaster. Hurricanes Rita and Andrew were disasters. The 1993 Upper Mississippi, and 2011 Lower Mississippi floods were disasters.

Compared to those, this is a non event -- and those are by no means the limit of disaster. Bopal? Stalingrad? Nagasaki? Give me a fucking break.

This could have been a tragedy. But in no way, shape, or form, is punching a hole through a building and a minivan, with absolutely no injuries, a disaster. Declaring it as such is either stupidity or cowardice, and that is by no means an exclusive or.
posted by eriko at 8:41 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


[Savage and Hyneman] weren't there when the cannon was shot; the experiment was being conducted by other cast members.

Ouch. That's a revelation. If your ship is going to hit an iceberg, you at least want to be on the bridge when it happens.
posted by red clover at 8:43 PM on December 7, 2011


Ouch. That's a revelation. If your ship is going to hit an iceberg, you at least want to be on the bridge when it happens.

No, it was probably Grant, Tory, and Kari. They shoot their own stuff without Adam and Jamie around all the time.
posted by KathrynT at 8:46 PM on December 7, 2011


‘MythBusters’ Show Suspended After Stunt Sends Cannonball Through House.

To give the benefit of the doubt: The current headline on that link is "
‘MythBusters’ Stunt Sends Cannonball Through House", and the lede is "The popular “MythBusters” show on the Discovery Channel is facing scrutiny after an incident Tuesday in which a cannonball was sent whizzing through a San Francisco-area neighborhood." The comments hint that at one time, your headline was present. Edit in place has real problems, which is why we don't have it here, and despite my ability to misspell or forget words while typing, I agree completely.

Ouch. That's a revelation. If your ship is going to hit an iceberg, you at least want to be on the bridge when it happens.

You're assuming that Hyneman and Savage are the captains. You would be wrong. The captain of the show is the producer, not the star, and you can bet a representative of Beyond Productions was onsite when the accident happened.
posted by eriko at 8:49 PM on December 7, 2011


No, it was probably Grant, Tory, and Kari. They shoot their own stuff without Adam and Jamie around all the time.

Sure, but if something is going to go horribly wrong like this, I'll bet five bucks that both Hyneman and Savage would tell you they'd much prefer it happen on their watch than to Grant, Tory and Kari. It's not that the trio isn't perfectly competent of being safe or equally capable of suffering an accident, just that I'd assume the stars would prefer to bear the responsibility for having pulled the bad trigger.
posted by red clover at 8:58 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the article linked above:
On Wednesday afternoon, the stars of “MythBusters” toured the scene of the damage, apologized, said the episode would not air and the show would not be shooting cannons at the range in the future, according to KGO.

“This is the worst we can imagine happening,” KGO quoted host Adam Savage saying. “I have kids of my own, I have a house of my own; I can’t imagine how angry I would be to find this happening to it.”


Glad they are handling it this way; so glad nobody was hurt.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:53 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think they should air it. Not in a "Ha! Man! Lookit this crazy mistake!" way, but in a "This is why we have those warnings. This is why safety is so important" way. It could be a really good After School Special style of episode.

At the same time, however, I can imagine that no one wants to air it. Were it my show, the whole situation would make me feel sick from both guilt and relief about what happened.
posted by meese at 10:28 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the second time Mythbusters has underestimated the effect of an explosion, resulting in property damage and luck that no one was killed.

The funniest thing was the statement to the press:
all proper safety protocol was observed.

Well, no, obviously the safety protocols that were observed were not good enough


Jamie's Tweet:
Loose cannon: glad no one was hurt. Won't happen again.

I like the show, so please, please, don't do explosions anywhere near neighborhoods again. I know it is more convenient than a long drive drive out into the middle of nowhere, but you guys are pressing your luck.
posted by eye of newt at 11:12 PM on December 7, 2011


I'm trying to picture a sphere spinning on more than one axis and I think I broke my brain.

Maybe a sphere that is spinning, but also precessing? Like when a spinning top starts to slow down and it is spinning but also wobbling in a big circle.


When I was an SF-addled kid, I had the brilliant idea that I could create a spherical space station with apparent gravity along the whole interior surface if I just spun it on one axis (say, z), and then as it spun, set it also turning around a perpendicular axis (x or y) like that precessing top. It took me a long time to figure out what was wrong with this.
posted by chortly at 12:40 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to asavage's Twitter, the show is still in production and nothing has been halted.
posted by camcgee at 9:07 AM on December 8, 2011


Well, no, obviously the safety protocols that were observed were not good enough.

I don't know if that's true. I think it's more likely that no safety procedures, no matter how tight, can ever be guaranteed to prevent every single type of accident or failure. Freak accidents are called "freak" for a reason.
posted by KathrynT at 9:09 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Physics homework for tonight on my board:

What was the kinetic energy of the cannonball that the Mythbusters launched?
Doing internet research, estimate the balls mass, and displacement. Then using our kinectic energy equations, solve for the work that the cannon did to the ball.

(I know it'll be off but we haven't done collisions yet)


Thanks Asavage!
posted by JimmyJames at 9:33 AM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think they should air it. Not in a "Ha! Man! Lookit this crazy mistake!" way, but in a "This is why we have those warnings. This is why safety is so important" way. It could be a really good After School Special style of episode.

I was surprised that the "knock your socks off" episode didn't have any mention of the aftermath, for this very reason.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:47 AM on December 8, 2011


What was the kinetic energy of the cannonball that the Mythbusters launched?

Hm, I seem to remember a 30lb cannonball and the reports say 1000fps.

So that's about 13.5 kilos @ 300 m/s

E_k = 1/2 * 13.5 * 300 * 300 = 60 kJ more or less

can't think of any useful equivalents though
posted by unSane at 10:45 AM on December 8, 2011


OK according to this page, the energy density of TNT 4184 J/g, so the cannonball had approximately the same energy as 15g of TNT.

Which is about three teaspoons.
posted by unSane at 10:50 AM on December 8, 2011


tore through a cinder-block wall

Lemme just say, as a guy who used to work in a cinderblock factory, that cinderblocks are not even remotely cannon-ball proof. We're talking about a hollow void surrounded by about an inch and a half of weakly cemented sand. It's no match for a weak child with a small hammer.

If anyone was seriously expecting a cinderblock wall to act as any kind of barrier against projectiles, that's someone who needs to be held accountable.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:42 AM on December 8, 2011


"Freak Accident"
I'd argue...see, I'm pretty sure that when you put a cannonball in a cannon in front of powder and a wad and then ignite the powder, it launches the cannonball. I can't say that was a freak occurrence. Failing to absolutely ensure the path of the cannonball was an accident...but not a freak one, rather someone took a shortcut and shouldn't have.

A "Freak" accident would have been, say, the cannon had been pointed in a fully safe direction and a fully laden African Swallow had suddenly choked on a mosquito, falling to the earth, hitting the cotter pin holding the wheel on the cannon mount, knocking the cannon over...this of course all happening after the fuse was lit. But no...a cannon coming out of a cannon ball after being poorly aimed...not a freak accident.

Where this gets me, and one of my mythbusters peeves...is the "Let's take it to the Nth degree" theme. Why in the EFF would you put a full powder charge behind a demo, control shot? When you shoot the watermelon/bowlingball/frozen turkey/whatever, are you going to put a full charge behind it? The properties of a launched cannonball aren't mysterious or unknown, and while I'll admit there's a fun aspect of "because we can", it just seems unnecessary.


Next...was it seriously a cinder block wall? I was thinking it had to have been a blast wall at least. I can't imagine any "safety guys" being ok with playing a game of Carom with a handfull of water barriers and a cinderblock wall.
posted by TomMelee at 11:58 AM on December 8, 2011


Sys Rq: "If anyone was seriously expecting a cinderblock wall to act as any kind of barrier against projectiles, that's someone who needs to be held accountable."

None of us know the specifics of the setup they used that day but on the particular point of cinderblocks and water barrels--possibly the entire point is that they crumble. Deforming stuff dissipates a lot of energy. Your car is designed to crumple in a collision, sacrificing the car to keep you safe. You could design a car that can "withstand" a collision, but you wouldn't want to be inside one when it crashes.

To put it another way, any weak child can also swim through water, but barrels of it on the highway are still useful to stop cars.
posted by danny the boy at 12:05 PM on December 8, 2011


The la times has a follow up, with pictures of Adam and Jamie meeting the families and apologizing and all that.
posted by selenized at 12:13 PM on December 8, 2011


They seem to be handling this with a lot of class. (Not surprising.) Good for them.
posted by red clover at 12:27 PM on December 8, 2011


Alpha says 13.5 kg at 300 m/s is 1.215 MJoules.

At 4.184 MJoules per Kilogram, that's 290 grams of TNT equivalent.

The density of TNT 1.6 g/cc, so the equivalent of 175 cc of TNT.

Or 35 teaspoons of TNT. That seems unwieldy. 48 teaspoons to the cup, so roughly 3/4 of a cup of TNT.

A teaspoon short of half a beer can.

HMS Victory shot 32 lb cannon balls at 1600 f/s using 5 Kg of gunpowder(3 MJoules/Kg), and had a range of 1000 feet when fired flat(level). State of the art for 1797.
posted by dglynn at 12:50 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kinetic energy is 1/2 m v^2 so you're out by a factor of two (I was out by a factor of ten because I mis-eyed the zeroes!). So it's a quarter of a beer can of TNT.
posted by unSane at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So it's a quarter of a beer can of TNT

I am so totally dropping the Système International in favour of "beer cans of TNT" based units.
posted by selenized at 1:14 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, we live in the star trek future where you can just ask alpha to calculate kinetic energy directly, giving an answer of 607.5kJ
posted by selenized at 1:17 PM on December 8, 2011


I am so totally dropping the Système International in favour of "beer cans of TNT" based units.

Would that be a typical 355mL, a tallboy, or one of those giant things like they sell at gas stations in Quebec?

No, I'm afraid such a proposal, tantalizing though it may seem, would be doomed by lack of standardization.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2011


(Don't even get me started on "x football fields long.")
posted by Sys Rq at 1:24 PM on December 8, 2011


No, I'm afraid such a proposal, tantalizing though it may seem, would be doomed by lack of standardization.

As long as you specify Imperial Beercans or Metric Beercans, there's no reason to worry about all the non-standard beercan equivalents.
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd argue...see, I'm pretty sure that when you put a cannonball in a cannon in front of powder and a wad and then ignite the powder, it launches the cannonball.

That's not the accident. The accident as I understand it was that the cannon got some unexpected muzzle lift -- and, again, there were ballistics and explosives experts on site, so I am willing to accept that the muzzle lift was truly unexpected and not just unanticipated -- which caused it to miss the energy-absorbing target. Then, when it hit the berm behind the target, it had an EXTREMELY unusual high-arcing ricochet, which flung it over the wall and towards the neighborhood.

If that understanding is correct, that's two separate random one-off events which combined for a devastating result. That's kind of what "freak accident" means, to me. It's possible that I have the facts wrong, but this doesn't seem like a case of just not thinking it through.
posted by KathrynT at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


On a more serious units-of-measure note: "cc"? What the hell, America, you're still using that? It's called a millilitre.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2011


On a more serious units-of-measure note: "cc"? What the hell, America, you're still using that? It's called a millilitre.

I see cm³ and dm³ fairly regularly in the chemical engineering literature. I think this is because it makes it easy (conceptually) to keep track of the Lengths, making it easier to ensure that the units work out in an equation.
posted by selenized at 1:37 PM on December 8, 2011


No, I'm afraid such a proposal, tantalizing though it may seem, would be doomed by lack of standardization.

The first step is to convene a comitee to "evaluate" the various brands of beer and determine which can size is most appropriate. Then we submit a platinum beer can to the Bureau international des poids et mesures to be the standard, problem solved.
posted by selenized at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2011


It's all conjecture, but "unexpected muzzle lift"? That could be anything from "holy shit this pivot moved when we put an extra 38lbs behind the fulcrum" to a partial misfire or slow-detonation (wet powder, poorly packed, etc) causing some kind of shift before full ignition. It could be as simple as recoil-induced tip up if the wheels weren't chocked well enough.

NONE of that is freak, and none of it explains using a full load while aimed at a neighborhood. I can imagine if it was like a rotten canteloupe or something, but the distance a cannonball will travel while gyroscoping on one or more axes is absolutely NOT an unknown. Ballistics or explosives experts are great, but only if they're actually doing what they're supposed to.

Accident, yes. Freak accident, no.

Also, there's no such thing as an "extremely unusual high arcing richochet", we're bound by physics, not magic-powder sprinkling TV fairies. It's why we don't target shoot by water or rocks or in areas that aren't absolutely protected, and it's why a small-arms berm shouldn't be used to stop, you know, artillery.

I'm not hostile---sorry if I come across that way---I just want to call a spade a spade. "Accident" yes, "freak", no. "Careless", yes. Avoided if we didn't always have to have a ridiculously large explosion for the sake of tv? Absolutely.
posted by TomMelee at 1:43 PM on December 8, 2011


I'm just saying...a 2 second blast of ether in a potato gun will shoot a golf ball ~400 yards, you should see what it will do to a washing machine or a car.

I swear I saw it on youtube officer, I've never had one.
posted by TomMelee at 1:45 PM on December 8, 2011


I'm just saying...a 2 second blast of ether in a potato gun will shoot a golf ball ~400 yards, you should see what it will do to a washing machine or a car.

I've seen them squish a full beer can against a nice solid wall quite a few yards away. I think they used propane, though.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:56 PM on December 8, 2011


On a more serious units-of-measure note: "cc"?

The density of TNT was listed as 1.654 g/cm^3, superscripts defeat me, and in my defense, I was working from teaspoons toward beer can units of TNT equivalent.

Heck, most of the gunpowder references are in grains.
posted by dglynn at 4:04 PM on December 8, 2011


It's okay, dglynn, I was mostly kidding.

In future, just be sure to end all measurements given in cc's with the exclamation, stat!

<sup>superscript</sup>
posted by Sys Rq at 4:52 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought cc was a unit of ejaculation volume and motorcycle strength. Or is it vice-versa?
posted by swift at 6:17 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought cc was a unit of ejaculation volume and motorcycle strength. Or is it vice-versa?

Actually, the latter is intended as insinuation of the former.
posted by The World Famous at 6:30 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another one is the coffee cream fuel-air bomb they tested where they realized halfway through the explosion that they were nowhere near far enough away for proper safety.

I missed that one. They do pyro stunt work for movies, they should have known this dust explosion would be much bigger than they expected. This is the kind of pyro mistake that killed Vic Morrow. These little kids had better safety precautions.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:21 PM on December 8, 2011


Other then the damages to the houses and cars, which I'm sure they'll pay what would they sue them for?

This happened in the States didn't it? I get the feeling litigation is like sex there.

Hopefully this will be enough to finally get the show canceled.

Don't watch it. It's that easy.

I'm baffled by the popularity of this show.

Check out popular music. Bafflement central. Also Doctor Who, Star Wars, Twilight, your favourite what have you and what not.

This was not a freak accident at all.

Yes it was.

And honestly I bet the neighbors are already pretty pissed at Mythbusters just setting off explosions in the middle of the day for TV all the time.

All the time? Is this true? How many times a day, how many days a week, on average in a week, month, year?
posted by juiceCake at 8:38 AM on December 9, 2011


Here is another annotated map of the path of the cannon ball.
posted by selenized at 10:27 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is another annotated map of the path of the cannon ball.

Hm. Looks like the explanation for the up-the-stairs-through-the-wall thing is probably that it bounced somewhere just in front of the staircase. Makes sense, actually.
posted by The World Famous at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2011


Hm. Looks like the explanation for the up-the-stairs-through-the-wall thing is probably that it bounced somewhere just in front of the staircase. Makes sense, actually.

It may have bounced before it hit the door, so the trajectory was up through the house as opposed to down through the door then up the stairs. I kind of figure that the owners would have noticed if a cannonball impacted their floor (maybe?).

It is still kind of amazes me how far the cannon ball could bounce along.
posted by selenized at 12:08 PM on December 9, 2011


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