Outrageous Experiments

Episode 1 Myths

posted: 01/07/17
show more details
Episode One Myth Breakdown

MYTH: It's possible to build a non-rocket-powered ejection seat that can fling a passenger out the side of a car, per 2 Fast 2 Furious.


The contestants were split into two teams: Blue and Red. The Blue Team consisted of Martin, Tamara, Jon, Sara and Jason. The Red Team was comprised of Hackett, Brian, Tracy, Ben and Allen.

The Blue Team came up with a plan quickly: They decided to re-hinge the door with electromagnets so that once the button is hit, the magnets deactivate and release the door. For the ejection seat, they would re-engineer the seat rails as a pre-pressurized air cannon poised to blow but held in place with a firing pin. Pulling the pin would send Buster skyrocketing.

The Red Team spent hours debating which hydraulic system they wanted to use. In the end, they settled on Brian's pneumatically powered pistons to eject both the chair and door. They re-hinged the door, attaching the piston, and contained their air pressure in a reservoir. Hitting the button would release the air via large bore valves and eject Buster.

Both teams had four days to build their systems, and there were many tweaks along the way. The Blue Team tested and abandoned a plan to supplement their cannon with air-bags, and the Red Team re-engineered their pneumatic plumbing with standard low pressure fittings and store-bought tanks.

The ultimate test took place at Alameda Runway, with the rule that the cars would need to achieve a speed of 40 mph before the driver attempted to eject Buster. Assisting in the judgment was Formula Drift legend Conrad Grunewald.

The Blue Team went first. Their system was originally designed to run at 100 PSI, but given the concern about lack of power, they decided to up the system pressure to 200. Unfortunately, just closing the trunk was enough to jostle the pin, releasing the pressure and ejecting the seat. The likely reason for the main failure? The pin design. When the pressurized air was added, without the benefit of a reservoir tank and valve, the pin slipped off.

Next up was the Red Team, who was able to get their car up to speed, blow off the door and then eject Buster. So while the Blue Team failed, the Red Team proved that the myth that you can build a sideways facing, subtle, non-rocket powered ejector seat is confirmed.

MYTH: Under-inflating a football makes it easier to grip and throw, and in cold conditions, it inhibits fumbling.


To help out with "deflategate," as the myth is popularly known, the producers turned to Steve Calhoun, a quarterback coaching guru with more than 34 years of professional experience.

To test whether a deflated ball is easier to catch, Steve used a throwing machine to fire 20 balls (10 inflated to NFL standards and 10 deflated) in a randomized and blind sequence at each of the 10 contestants. Though all received coaching from Steve on how to catch a football, individual performance was less important than cumulative stats. The resulting data set would be a sizable 200 catches or attempted catches -- more than enough data to draw a conclusion.

As a whole, the group fumbled or missed 41 of the footballs. Eighteen of those balls were inflated and 23 were deflated, showing that there's no advantage to catching a deflated football.

But is there a competitive advantage to THROWING a deflated ball? Nope. Steve was able to throw 24 regularly inflated and 25 deflated footballs through a target, which means effectively there's no difference there either.

Deflategate was therefore declared busted.


More on
The Candidates