Outrageous Experiments

Myth Database – Finding a Needle in a Haystack

posted: 02/09/17
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Check Out a Clip From the Myth and Scroll Down for the Breakdown
MYTH: It is impossible to find a needle in a haystack, even with the help of modern machinery.


For this myth, the contestants were given three days to build a sorting contraption that can find both three modern metal needles and one traditional bone needle. Traci, Jon, Allen and Martin formed Team Blue, while Red consisted of Brian, Hackett and Tamara. Because the red team had only three members, they were given the choice of either having a ghost builder, who would do whatever they said but offer no creative input, or electing to find one less metal needle. They chose the ghost builder.

On the Blue Team, the candidates decided on a multiple stage conveyor belt consisting of a shaker, a blower and a pool of water. In their small-scale tests they discovered that vibration was effective at separating needles from hay, but that they'd need a magnetic strip to catch the needles. They also experimented with burning the hay to reduce the volume, but that reduced the clarity of the water at the end of their ramp -- and also burned up the bone needle. In the end, Team Blue built a giant vibrating ramp with two lines of magnets, a blast of hay-separating air, and a pool to let the needles sink.

In contrast, the Red Team opted for fire as a way to reduce the volume of hay. Searching for a way to avoid burning the bone needle, they discovered that by simultaneously blasting the clumps of hay with wind and fire, both the metal and bone needle fell through the ash intact. Ultimately, the team decided on a mulcher powered by leaf blowers, a tube to feed hay, and a contraption consisting of two barrels fed by propane torches. The plan? After feeding hay into the mulcher, they'd blow the chaff into the fire cyclone and the needles would drop out.

For the test, the candidates had six hours to find four needles in 15 bales of hay (in contrast, Jamie and Adam had eight hours to find four needles in 10 bales of hay).

On the Red Team, Hackett and Brian broke down bales while Tamara and the ghost builder tended the fire vortex and sifted through the debris. In the six hours, they found the three metal needles but never the bone needle.

Over on the the Blue Team, Jon and Allen fed their conveyor belt from the top while Martin guided the hay down the ramp, past the magnets and fans, and Tracy searched the pool for any heavier-than-hay needles. They also found the three metal needles, but never the bone needle.

Because both teams took six hours to find just three needles each with their elaborate machines, the myth was called confirmed.
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