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"Can you really knock off someone's socks?"
March 26, 2009 5:01 PM   Subscribe

KaBOOM! This past Friday, the MythBusters exploded 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate (25% of the same material used in the Oklahoma City bombing,) at a rock quarry in Yolo County, CA for an upcoming episode. But the explosion was apparently a wee bit bigger than they expected. It shattered windows in nearby Esparto and was large enough to be picked up as a "small event" ground tremor by National Geographical Survey sensors. Which myth were they busting, you ask?

They wanted to answer the question: Can you really knock off someone's socks? :)
posted by zarq (73 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Scared the hell out of everybody," said Lavell McCray

...

awesome.
posted by 5imian at 5:08 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love those guys.
posted by RavinDave at 5:09 PM on March 26, 2009


They really seem to be developing an unhealthy love of explosives on the show. It was fun for a while... oh, heck, it's still fun. However, even explosives can get stale if overused.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:12 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Isn't this a double?
posted by dunkadunc at 5:15 PM on March 26, 2009


You know, I read somewhere that the demolition industry has the highest job satisfaction. I'm beginning to think the cast and crew of Mythbusters have that beat. Better than just blowing stuff up: blowing stuff up for entertainment!
posted by FishBike at 5:16 PM on March 26, 2009


More information on Ammonium Nitrate.
posted by zarq at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2009


It's all fun and games until Metafilter's own Adam Savage loses an eye.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:20 PM on March 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


I can't believe that passes for journalism.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:20 PM on March 26, 2009


I used to work in (sound, light and) pyrotechnics for a while and I can attest that blowing stuff up for a living is indeed very enjoyable. Particularly in Mexico where the complete and utter lack of safety regulation means that you're never quite sure if you're going to die or not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:21 PM on March 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


I can't believe that passes for journalism.

I suspect it's close to a transcript of what aired, which wouldn't be unusual. The language seems more suited to a television broadcast than a print article.
posted by zarq at 5:23 PM on March 26, 2009


Which myth were they busting, you ask?

I would imagine that this was part of their ongoing series to determine if explosions are still awesome.

Thus far it has been a resounding, unambiguous "Confirmed".
posted by quin at 5:23 PM on March 26, 2009 [31 favorites]


Isn't this a double?

Posted and deleted earlier today. This post is much less crappily phrased, though, so maybe it'll stay.
posted by dersins at 5:24 PM on March 26, 2009


This post is much less crappily phrased...

Uh... thanks, I think. :)

...though, so maybe it'll stay.

If not, no biggie. It's cool either way.

I missed the original post (it's no longer searchable on MeFi) until the preview checker pointed it out. I figured the way mine had been written, it wouldn't break any rules.
posted by zarq at 5:33 PM on March 26, 2009


Explosions ARE awesome, but I agree that they are in danger of jumpingexploding the sharkweek. Exploding pants, yes; exploding socks off, no.
posted by DU at 5:42 PM on March 26, 2009


Would've been a cooler answer to this recent AskMe.
posted by msbrauer at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2009


Ammonium nitrate to knock socks off? Can't you just hit the person over the head with a giant mallet?

Anyway, isn't "knock your socks off" just an expression? Where's the myth? Will they next answer the question "Can you really knock someone's block off?"
posted by orme at 5:51 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Will they next answer the question "Can you really knock someone's block off?"

Hell yeah!
posted by TungstenChef at 5:52 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


They had a previous episode about figures of speech. Most of the segments were pretty well-thought-out, but the finale was just a big explosion to prove the idiom, "End with a bang." I'm guessing this episode has a similar flow, with some serious segments and then a silly excuse to blow stuff up at the end.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:55 PM on March 26, 2009


Anyway, isn't "knock your socks off" just an expression?

It means to surprise someone thoroughly.
"People were running around in the street asking what was happening," she said. "(It) scared the hell out of everyone."
Sounds like they succeeded, no? :)
posted by zarq at 5:58 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I suspect it's close to a transcript of what aired, which wouldn't be unusual. The language seems more suited to a television broadcast than a print article.
posted by zarq at 8:23 PM on March 26 [+] [!]

Exactly. Some of the bigger TV news operations have someone rewrite transcripts--a horrible job--to turn them into stories. But the smaller ones don't, and so you get these awful things masquerading as stories.
posted by etaoin at 6:05 PM on March 26, 2009


I think they're doing it wrong.

My idea of knocking someone's socks off generally involves a nice dinner, a bottle of wine and a lot more fireworks.

And a whole lotta less mustache.
posted by loquacious at 6:18 PM on March 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


I suppose they were testing if magnetism affects gravity again.
posted by fleacircus at 6:20 PM on March 26, 2009


I can attest that blowing stuff up for a living is indeed very enjoyable. Particularly in Mexico where the complete and utter lack of safety regulation means that you're never quite sure if you're going to die or not.

It is a bit of a derail, but I can attest to the fact that Mexico has (or at least had) a lack of safety regulations. I once worked for this company that was building a space launcher. They were looking for a low cost site to launch from and Mexico asked us to come down to take a look at a site. We sent one of our guys down.

Range safety preparation for launches or blowing socks off experiments is important. You don't want anyone nearby in case anything goes wrong, and for launches, you don't want anything in the flight path in case you have to abort and the vehicle comes crashing down.

So here he is at the proposed launch site on the Mexican coast and our guy sees all these boats--many commercial and private boats all over the place. "What are we going to do about these boats before a launch?" he asks the Mexican official. "Oh, don't worry, we have this!" Then he pulls out a bull horn.

The company decided it was too dangerous to launch out of Mexico, regardless of the price.
posted by eye of newt at 6:26 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


My favourite Mythboom. I wonder if this new one tops the cement mixer.
posted by Decimask at 6:48 PM on March 26, 2009


And a whole lotta less mustache.

No, now you're doing it wrong.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:53 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, now you're doing it wrong.

Walrus?
posted by loquacious at 7:15 PM on March 26, 2009


Metafilter's own Adam Savage

He was here for a short time years ago.

He's not coming back.

Let it go.
posted by Bonzai at 7:17 PM on March 26, 2009


Coo-coo ka-choo, buddy.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:23 PM on March 26, 2009


He still posts, Bonzai.
posted by danb at 7:30 PM on March 26, 2009


He was here for a short time years ago.

He's posted in the last 3 months, while he may not comment all that often, it's reasonable to guess he still reads the site occasionally.
posted by iamabot at 7:31 PM on March 26, 2009


Mefite (& Metafilter tech guru) PB meets Adam Savage, March 12, 2009
posted by anastasiav at 7:34 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not the first time windows have been rattled in the area. Back in 1973, a train pulling 18 boxcars filled with 7,056 Mark 81 bombs headed for Vietnam blew up in nearby Roseville, flattening the train depot and blowing the train into smithereens.

I was hanging out in the backyard making mud pies when the shock of the first explosion slammed our big glass sliding patio door shut hard enough that it bent the aluminum lock. Scared the crap out of me; my mom came charging out of the house screaming in Japanese about air raids (she was in Tokyo during WW2), snatched me up and insisted in hiding in the laundry room until my dad got home. ~5,500 buildings ended up being damaged to the tune of $24 million in property damage, a figure that would no doubt make Mythbuster's insurers cry.

Amazingly, no one was killed. The explosion changed the way the armed forces shipped ordnance (one would hope so). During construction at the site twenty years later, unexploded bombs were found buried in the dirt.
posted by jamaro at 7:42 PM on March 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


Mythbusters blowing things up? No way

isn't that pretty much all they do.

Take an idiom (they'ev pretty much run out of myths)- then "bust" it with the biggest rating grabbing explosion they can.
posted by mattoxic at 7:44 PM on March 26, 2009


I can't believe it took six days for this to reach MeFi. Does no one in Esparto have an internet-enabled computer? Hell, in NYC they'd've been on that gravel pit with a dozen cellphone video captures before the dust even started to change its direction from up to down.
posted by Mike D at 7:50 PM on March 26, 2009


You know, that the woman who had her windows broken said "It was really fun" is pretty cool. Because in the DC area it would be "OMG TERRORISM! How dare they because TERRORISTS!" (that's happened before -- when artist Cai Guo-Qiang did a fireworks performance near the Kennedy Center, that was basically the reaction.)

Of course, I live right across the street from Fort Myer, where they seem to like to practice shooting at 6 a.m. in the morning and I work close enough to Quantico Marine Corps Base that we feel the shockwaves from ordnance testing. So while no windows have ever been broken, I tend to ignore these sorts of things and move on.
posted by darksong at 7:52 PM on March 26, 2009


Heh, boom is fun. I just recently confessed to my step-father that I was stealing his black powder used for reloading shotgun shells (he knew). Told mom they were firecrackers.... giant holes in the back yard, hole in neighbors garage door hid behind the stack of firewood. Would probably be thrown in jail today, back then it was boy fun.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:01 PM on March 26, 2009


He was here for a short time years ago.
Huh? His last post was in January.


I love the "I guess this is a big deal or something" reaction from the sheriff. I think I need to visit Esparto someday soon.
posted by niles at 8:07 PM on March 26, 2009


I dunno. It's the geeky approach to explosions that's endearing.

Once it becomes endless spectacle, may as well put it on TNN with wrestling, NASCAR, and those endless military hardware shows.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:14 PM on March 26, 2009


However, even explosives can get stale if overused.

It is in my experience that an explosive tends to get used just the once.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 8:33 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Mythbusters blowing things up? No way

isn't that pretty much all they do.

Take an idiom (they'ev pretty much run out of myths)- then "bust" it with the biggest rating grabbing explosion they can.


I don't really get this perception. The episode guide for the most recent season hardly seems overwhelmed by explosions and there is the usual mix of movie scenarios, urban legends, conspiracy theories, internet memes and idioms. And isn't "grabbing" ratings what popular entertainment is supposed to do?
posted by nanojath at 9:07 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


According to a CNN newsreader one New Year's Eve, the celebration in Times Square literally knocked her socks off.

We laughed and laughed.

Substances may have been involved.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:50 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think I need to visit Esparto someday soon.

Some things are better left in fantasy.
posted by sageleaf at 9:51 PM on March 26, 2009


What's this thing about metafilter 'celebrities'?!

Sure, it's Adam Savage and - gasp - he has TV show.

In my limited non-OMG I'm a metafilter poster - asavage doesn't post much, if at all:

I thought that metafilterians respected each other based on their *posting*

jonmc: prolific poster, NY 'correspondent' (fuck with him by either saying that you're a hipster or accuse him of being one)

pinksuperhero - NY 'correspondent' who doesn't like insipid.

mutant - Above-and-beyond not-YOUR-economist economic explainorator

languagehat - who I haven't noticeded lately, but a general lib arts "you've got to be fucking shitting us" correctionals office

madamjujuve - my heart gets glad (even when it's wont to be otherwise) when I see your posts

... and all every other great poster - there're too many such that it points to the success of mathowie's success.

shit - I can't come up with a list of mefi posters (I'm leaving so many people/posters out) who are great because that is one of those things that I'm horrible at; I know what's said/done but I can't remember who did/said what.

--

WRT the FPP, neat.

WRT commentary... I'd love to see a FFP on mathowie done in a non-suck-upitudinous way. Srsly.
posted by porpoise at 10:00 PM on March 26, 2009


Sorry porpoise. But nothing is as cool as when the Woz posted on mefi.
posted by banished at 10:14 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kaboom baby.
posted by w0mbat at 10:15 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does no one in Esparto have an internet-enabled computer?

Esparto is the kind of place where possibly no one does have an internet enabled computer.
posted by fshgrl at 10:35 PM on March 26, 2009


I'll see your kaboom, womabt and raise you a sad, lonely robot kaboom.
posted by 5imian at 11:01 PM on March 26, 2009


MeFi's Own asavage is, by my guesstimation, the biggest Celebrity Guest here who has stuck his head back into the Big Blue Tent on an ongoing basis. And the only reason he hasn't contributed to this thread is probably because he's still trying to find his socks (which I hear landed somewhere near Pismo Beach... not that I'd know anything about it, but... argyle?)
posted by wendell at 11:52 PM on March 26, 2009


So, was this a fuck up? Sure, no one was hurt, but it seems they seriously underestimated the size of the explosion. You'd think they would have a pretty good handle on things after seven seasons.
posted by ryanrs at 1:29 AM on March 27, 2009


MeFi's Own asavage is, by my guesstimation, the biggest Celebrity Guest here who has stuck his head back into the Big Blue Tent on an ongoing basis.

I always figured that Mefites get super stoked about celebrities popping their threads in for a couple of reasons. For one, this community feels so small for something so big. The idea that we have famous people in our little internet hamlet make this little home feel so much more special. Also, the fact that you can be nearly as anonymous as you please on mefi also leads me to believe that "asavage" or "thewoz" might just be sockpuppets of regular contributors. I could guess they would rather not have to endure the whole hurf durf fanboy nonsense every time they pop into a thread.

Also, please never use the word guesstimation again. It makes a vein bulge out in my neck.
posted by JimmyJames at 1:40 AM on March 27, 2009


ryanrs: So, was this a fuck up? Sure, no one was hurt, but it seems they seriously underestimated the size of the explosion.

I can't claim special knowledge, but Yolo County Bomb Squad Commander Nick Concolino mentioned in the last link that it was "It was a geographical oddity," which suggests to me that something about the characteristics of the quarry caused some asymmetry in the shock wave.

That, or they just added their numbers up wrong.
posted by moonbiter at 2:54 AM on March 27, 2009


Which myth were they busting, you ask?

The myth that they know what the hell they're doing?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:13 AM on March 27, 2009


Adam, don't post here. See, then the thread becomes part of discovery in the lawsuit, and you get asked about it in your deposition.
posted by norm at 4:52 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would like to conduct a similar experiment on whether or not it is possible to "fuck someone's brains out".

I will be taking applications, please include a current photo, age, weight, and measurements. Remember ladies; it's for science!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:06 AM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would like to conduct a similar experiment on whether or not it is possible to "fuck someone's brains out

Ask mythbusters to use amyl nitrate next time.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:34 AM on March 27, 2009


No thanks, I need to keep my brains. I'm saving them for a nice Zombie I've met.
posted by dabitch at 5:41 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


(also, John Hodgman, resident expert.)
posted by Pronoiac at 7:11 AM on March 27, 2009


Porpoise, it's is based on quality of posts/comments, good ask.me answers, degrees of separation for Our Howieness and His Mods, and general geeky goodness.

Adam Savage shouted-out MeFi on Mythbusters, gives good (recent) ask.me, has hung out with Mods, as well as The Howie. And if blowing stuff up and having a teevee show that often uses actual science isn't the very personification of geeky goodness, then I am much more of a geezer than even in my darkest nightmares. Hey, Adam, if I suck up enough, can I come visit Mythbusters, too?
posted by theora55 at 7:23 AM on March 27, 2009


Boy, this thread sure got pedantic.

OnTopic: I think the bias towards explosions comes from Discovery's reality-kaboom fetish in recent years. Fun fact, male demo 18-49 sure likes them some explosions! Advertising aside, what demo doesn't?
posted by cavalier at 7:40 AM on March 27, 2009


Male demo 18-49, indeeeed. I'm testosterone-free, in the early stages of geezerage, and I loves me some blowin-stuff-up. If it wouldn't hurt the fishes, I'd be chunking sodium in the lake I live near.
posted by theora55 at 7:46 AM on March 27, 2009


also leads me to believe that "asavage" or "thewoz" might just be sockpuppets of regular contributors.

Savage asks questions about upcoming episodes in askme. A fan wouldnt know this. Not to mention he's mentioned mefi elsewhere and has even given us a shout out. I cant vouch for woz, but I would think the mods would at least try to check his credentials in some way.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:49 AM on March 27, 2009


*sigh* so now it's "metaphor" -busters, or something?

"Next: Can cartoon characters really survive cliff-falling, anvil-crushing, splats?"

Shark-jumping, epic purpose-fail.

(And yes I realize I'm terribly late in snarking on this thread, I'm just so disappointed with Mythbusters as of late.)
posted by uncorq at 7:57 AM on March 27, 2009


Sorry theora, I meant to imply with the "what demo doesn't?" aside that I realized it was pointless to pigeon hole this into a specific demo but that was at some level the base decision for Discovery when they headed into explosion country a few years back.
posted by cavalier at 8:11 AM on March 27, 2009


Next week (or month, or whenever this thing airs): "Can a straw really break a camel's back?"
posted by Zambrano at 8:59 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you step on a mine, do all the mines in the minefield really go off at once?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:18 AM on March 27, 2009


As for the Celebrity Mefite thing, there are the "sign up, drop into a thread once to comment on something relevant to them" kind, and then there are the "participates all the time but isn't really all that famous" kind. Woz's appearance (and boy, did he *appear*), while spectacular, was of the first kind, and most of the rest of us are of the second kind, are we not??

But Adam actually took the time to answer my silly Rube Goldberg question, and I am not at all a MB fanboy (I like the show though, but I don't stay home for it or whatever), nor do I have any real awe for celebrity in general, so yeah, as far as I'm concerned Adam's status as An MeFi Hero is mostly justified.

Also, screw the New York cabal. It's just a bunch of solipsistic omphaloskeptics with nothing in common but exorbitant rents and the acquired utter inability to perceive the smell of human urine.

*HUGS PORPOISE, ADAM, NEW YORK*
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:34 AM on March 27, 2009


Also, the fact that you can be nearly as anonymous as you please on mefi also leads me to believe that "asavage" or "thewoz" might just be sockpuppets of regular contributors.

Matt confirmed that it was indeed the Woz.
posted by Mitheral at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2009


I would very much like to blow things up. I need a job with a demolition crew. Big booms...I'm pretty sure these things would make me happy.
posted by dejah420 at 11:11 AM on March 27, 2009


Cavalier, yeah, I read that after I pressed Post. I'm just bitter because my brothers got to shoot guns and blow stuff up when we were kids, and I didn't know how much fun it was.
posted by theora55 at 4:58 PM on March 27, 2009


"Scared the hell out of everybody," said Lavell McCray

I hope they collected and quantified all that hell, or they're gonna have to do it all over again in a future IdiomBusters episode.
posted by logopetria at 3:08 AM on March 28, 2009


"OnTopic: I think the bias towards explosions comes from Discovery's reality-kaboom fetish in recent years. Fun fact, male demo 18-49 sure likes them some explosions! Advertising aside, what demo doesn't?"

It took me awhile to figure out you meant demographic not demolition. Think before you abbreviate!

"Boy, this thread sure got pedantic."

Oops. Sorry.
posted by Eideteker at 5:06 AM on March 28, 2009


How about the phrase "clean your clock"? It would be an interesting Mythbusting session. Nice and quiet, for a change.
posted by WalterMitty at 11:31 AM on March 28, 2009


You know what I can't stand? Smash Lab.
The show completely lacks the intelligence and nerdyness of MB-- it's like off-brand Mythbusters with a dash of MTV thrown in. Hey! Let's test these new airbags! And be super-safe about it! And make really lame jokes- and be EXTREME!
posted by dunkadunc at 12:04 PM on March 28, 2009


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