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Mythbusters Accidentally Bust Windows In Nearby Town 500

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-thing-it-wasn't-mirrors dept.
Thelasko writes "In an effort to knock Buster's socks off, the Mythbusters accidentally created an explosion so large it shattered windows in a small town over a mile from the blast site. The Mythbusters had the broken windows replaced the very same day. The Esparto, California fire chief says that several firefighters were on hand for the blast, but he didn't notify residents because, 'Mythbusters is supposed to be a really popular show. Everybody would have been out there. We would have had to cancel it because it would have been too dangerous.'"
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Mythbusters Accidentally Bust Windows In Nearby Town

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  • by Slashidiot (1179447) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:20AM (#27341695) Journal
    ... Jamie got big boom.
  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:20AM (#27341703) Homepage

    The Myth Busters truly are gods among geeks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Quasar1999 (520073)
      So now if some TV show is filming a dangerous experiment near my house, I shouldn't be notified that my windows may explode unexpectedly? This public official needs to be fired. I'm all for the TV show, but public safety comes first... or at least it used to back in the day... now get off my grass!
      • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oahazmatt (868057) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:28AM (#27341823) Journal
        The keyword in the summary was "accidentally". This was not an intended result and was not anticipated. Especially not a mile away.
        • Re:wow (Score:5, Funny)

          by Slashidiot (1179447) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:41AM (#27342019) Journal
          Yeah, they accidentally the whole town...
        • by geekmux (1040042) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:45AM (#27342077)

          The keyword in the summary was "accidentally". This was not an intended result and was not anticipated. Especially not a mile away.

          They were igniting 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate. What, did EVERYONE (including Fire Marshall Bill) forget to bring their handy dandy bomb-squad approved $10 calculator with them that day?

          • NASA problem (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cdwdwkr (742274)
            It was a NASA Mars Mission problem. The Mythbusters were loading 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate while the safety guys thought they meant 500 grams.
            • Re:NASA problem (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ronaldb (1256550) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:04AM (#27342389) Homepage

              Oh, that's only a factor of.... err.. 500? Oops.

              Reminds me of a high school chemistry teacher showing us the difference between Na and K. His words:

              "Na is very reactive, so we drop only a small amount in water to show the reaction." - poof

              "K is a little less reactive, so we can drop a larger amount in water." - BAMMM! (and one erlenmeyer explodes in front of 35 students)

              Of course, today that would mean the teacher would be sued by the parents for endangering the lives of all those students. But in my day, this means that 30 years later I remember that K is less reactive than Na, but not by very much.

            • Re:NASA problem (Score:5, Interesting)

              by transporter_ii (986545) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:27AM (#27342757) Homepage

              In high school, I had a physics teacher who, way back when he first started teaching, ordered x picograms of radioactive material for his class. The school secretary thought he misspelled the order and changed it to grams.

              He said later on the principal called him over the intercom and sounded really upset. He went to the office, only to find the principal steaming mad over a $50,000.00-plus invoice. He looked at the invoice and, realizing what it was, went and got his giger counter...only to find it going crazy even out in the hall from the principal's office.

              As it turned out, they had shipped a large order of radioactive material in a cardboard box!

              They had to evacuate the office and call someone to come and get it.

              Possibly unrelated, because that had happened many years prior, but he died of cancer.

              transporter_ii

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by mrchaotica (681592) *

                What happened to the egregiously mistaken secretary?

              • by Chagatai (524580) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:33PM (#27343829) Homepage
                A new science teacher came to my high school during the 1980s. During the first week of his job, he decided to help clean out the chemical closet. As he was going through things, he came across a large jar of picric acid, which is an ingredient to some explosives. As he took a more detailed look, he noticed that the acid had crystallized.

                He called up the local police department to talk to someone who does hazmat / dangerous chemicals work. The moment he said, "crystallized picric acid," the man on the other end of the phone shouted, "Evacuate the building now!"

                The full bomb squad arrived and took the beaker carefully up the hill to the 50-yard line of the football stadium and detonated the beaker. The shockwave went clear across the town.
          • by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:01AM (#27342343) Journal

            What, did EVERYONE (including Fire Marshall Bill) forget to bring their handy dandy bomb-squad approved $10 calculator with them that day?

            I'm guessing they underestimated the burn rate of the explosives. This is probably due to the high variability in quality of ammonium nitrate. [wikipedia.org] They may have done the calculations for agricultural grade ammonium nitrate, and used another.

          • by curmudgeous (710771) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:11AM (#27342515)

            They were igniting 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate

            [humor]
            I hereby declare this an act of domestic terrorism. The fact this wasn't in the middle of a public square just means they were bad at planning.
            [/humor]

        • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:48AM (#27343107)

          Look, I like Mythbusters, but I've always said that I think they draw some sloppy conclusions and shoot from the hip sometimes when they really shouldn't.

          The thing everyone's focusing on is whether they did anticipate this result. The question nobody's asking is whether they should have anticipated it.

          Let's assume they had no basis to know going in how big the explosion would be. (As I've said elsewhere, I don't believe that; but others seem to think so... ok...) Then it's their job, before conducting the experiment, to find out. The type of explosive they used is pretty well known. If they didn't know how to estimate the size of the explosion, they should've been able to find someone that could. If they couldn't... then conducting the test was reckless.

          Throwing as much explosive as you can in a pile and setting it off with at best a guess as to what the yield will be is not responsible, even if you do have the local fire brigade on hand.

          At least they had the sense to repair the damage they did after the fact. (And to those who suspect they fell victim to fraud in the process: if so, it's their own fault.) Luckily nobody was standing near a window that shattered.

          So, no harm no foul? Maybe. I hope they learn from this experience, though, as it sounds like they didn't learn much from previous demolitions tests on their show.

          • by Culture20 (968837)
            They should have learned this lesson with the tree-cannon and 5 pounds of black powder. Wood chunks as large as a man flew past the barriers (and construction equipment) they hid behind. They were lucky on that one.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by mdielmann (514750)

              Relying on luck is a sure sign of stupidity. I've thought for a while that stupid was a key ingredient in the Mythbusters 'experiments'. Something tells me the luck will run out before the stupid does.
              Yes, this is evolution at work.

      • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Scootin159 (557129) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:34AM (#27341921) Homepage
        Public safety was taken into consideration - and in this case it was determined 'safer' to NOT tell the public, as the expected crowed that would produce would make matters WORSE.
      • Re:wow (Score:5, Informative)

        by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:36AM (#27341937) Homepage Journal

        Depends on what you consider 'near'.

        If normal precautions and notices take place, then all laws have been followed.

        Accidents do happen, you need to calm down.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
        It was a mile away.

        Seriously, do you have anything better to do than whinge? It doesn't appear like it.
      • Re:wow (Score:5, Funny)

        by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:42AM (#27342027) Homepage

        So now if some TV show is filming a dangerous experiment near my house, I shouldn't be notified that my windows may explode unexpectedly? This public official needs to be fired. I'm all for the TV show, but public safety comes first... or at least it used to back in the day... now get off my grass!

        They didn't expect it either. They did not think there was a safety issue, thus they did not warn about the safety issue they did not think existed. If they had thought there was a safety issue warranting warnings, they would have issued safety issue warnings. They had firemen on hand for the safety issues they did expect. They did not have firemen on hand for the issues they did not expect.

        What I'm saying is that it was unexpected.

      • Re:wow (Score:5, Funny)

        by MagicM (85041) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:44AM (#27342067)

        I shouldn't be notified that my windows may explode unexpectedly?

        You want to be notified of everything that may happen unexpectedly? Seriously? Because then we're going to be here a while...

      • Re:wow (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:46AM (#27342117)

        having been a pyrotechnician for 15 years, I can say that many of the "broken" window claims probably were for windows cracked long ago. But hey, there's a boom, so I can get free window replacement!

      • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MagicM (85041) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:47AM (#27342121)

        I shouldn't be notified that my windows may explode unexpectedly?

        People can't notify you of unexpected things. That's why they're called unexpected.

        (Yes, I replied twice and contradicted myself. Big whoop.)

      • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by furby076 (1461805) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:55AM (#27342235) Homepage
        Why is it everytime someone makes a mistake there is some moron who has a knee jerk reaction of "fire the person". Give me a break. The fire chief made a call. They didn't notify the town because they didn't want a crowd at the film site - which would be dangerous in and of itself. So if they cancelled the show they transported explosive chemicals to the site and would have to transfer it off the site, then transfer it to another site...all that transport = danger.

        not to forget - they didn't realize the explosion was going to be so big as to break a hand-ful of windows a MILE away.
        Unfortunate yes, unexpected yes, handled properly yes, fire someone no.
      • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:03AM (#27342369) Homepage Journal
        This is slashdot, not the kleenex factory. Take your whining and sniveling down the road, and please stop leaking bodily fluids on our floor. Shit happens, get over it.
      • Re:wow (Score:5, Informative)

        by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:12PM (#27343507)
        The windows didn't "explode", they "shattered". I actually RTFA. And when you read the article, it appears that even the headline overstates it. In the article it twice refers to the broken windows. Once it says "...breaking her front window". The other time it says "Mythbusters told KCRA 3 they replaced a handful of broken windows."
        According to the article lots of people were curious and wanted to know what was going on, but the only person who the article referred to who thought something was done wrong was someone who "was working at a local school". We don't know who this person was because the article gives their name, but doesn't say what they were doing at the school. Since their job title is not mentioned, it seems likely that they don't speak for the school. This means that those who do speak for the school apparently don't think there was anything wrong with what was done.
  • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:24AM (#27341751) Journal

    .... can't wait to see this one air. I wonder what odds Adam gave of shattering windows a mile away from the blast site?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:25AM (#27341769)

    ...could get the go-ahead on tripping 500 lbs of ammonium nitrate in order to "knock the socks off" of a mannequin.

  • by Wulfstan (180404) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:26AM (#27341777)

    "Chief Barry Burns, of Esparto Fire Department" :-)

  • Bleeped (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:26AM (#27341793)

    And their big 'bleep' was located 'bleep' but don't 'bleep' anywhere near 'bleep' CUE BIG FIREBALL BOOM!

    Sorry about that, it is just a pet peeve of mine that Mythbusters is seemingly censoring mundane details about what they are doing. What is the point about censoring the location where you are firing off a minigun? It's obviously restricted, and it isn't as if people are going to wander onto some military base and pick up a minigun.

    If the people who watch the show were so stupid as to try and use some of the chemicals that are used in the show (and harm themselves or someone else) I'd wager that they are probably too stupid to even know where to order them.

    You never saw Mr. Wizard bleeping out the chemical names on his demonstrations.

    I swear that if the lawyers had their way, they would bleep 'gasoline'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by oahazmatt (868057)

      You never saw Mr. Wizard bleeping out the chemical names on his demonstrations.

      True, but when did Mr. Wizard use [bleep]ing Thermite?

      • Re:Bleeped (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:43AM (#27342049) Journal

        Thermite is a perfect example. It's easy to make, the ingredients are dirt cheap and unregulated, and it takes no special knowledge to put it together.

        Why bleep out the words "Aluminum" and "Iron Oxide"? If someone wants to learn how to make thermite, they can do that without any special help.

        The nastiest stuff they use on mythbusters is all commercial. The stuff they make themselves is mostly kitchen sink stuff that anyone could make.

        • Re:Bleeped (Score:5, Insightful)

          by oahazmatt (868057) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:47AM (#27342129) Journal

          Why bleep out the words "Aluminum" and "Iron Oxide"?

          Defense Lawyer: And where did you learn to make Thermite?
          Defendent: From watching Mythbusters.
          Discovery Channel: Uh-oh.

          • Re:Bleeped (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Taibhsear (1286214) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:22AM (#27342681)

            I think it's funny that they bleeped it out in that episode. They even blurred the label of one of the containers of chemicals they used for it. IAAC so I pretty much guessed what they were using just by seeing it. Did a quick google search after the episode and confirmed it. I find it rather stupid that they feel the need to bleep and blur when a few milliseconds online can find the details anyways. Knowing how to break the law is not the same as actually breaking the law.

            I also was meandering through our chemical storage (I work for a college) just to see if we even had the ingredients for thermite. We did (not that surprising really), but what I did find interesting/surprising was that on our shelf of old chemicals that aren't used in classes anymore was a big jar of thermite and thermite activator.

    • Re:Bleeped (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:39AM (#27341989) Journal

      You never saw Mr. Wizard bleeping out the chemical names on his demonstrations.

      Note the past tense. Is Mr. Wizard even allowed to be shown now? Have the networks been 'encouraged' to drop programming like that?

      Now please excuse me while I test whether an explosion can literally knock my tinfoil hat off.

    • Re:Bleeped (Score:5, Funny)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:43AM (#27342059)

      I swear that if the lawyers had their way, they would bleep 'bleep'.

      I don't get it.

    • Re:Bleeped (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:55AM (#27342253) Journal

      What is the point about censoring the location where you are firing off a minigun?

      I always assumed that they censored that particular nugget because they film in the People's Republic of^W^W^W California, which isn't exactly a pro-firearms state. I know they had to get special permission when they were playing around with the .50 rifle during the bullets fired at water episode. I also seem to recall the neighbors of M5 whining when they were doing some other gun myths.

      I do agree though that some of the stuff they censor is just plain stupid. I would guess that the lawyers make them do it.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:29AM (#27341835)

    Ever since these other "lets blow stuff up on high speed film" shows came out, MythBusters has had to blow more and more stuff up, kind of getting anti-intellectual nowadays. Plus Kari needs a bigger rack.

  • The verdict (Score:5, Funny)

    by sxltrex (198448) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:38AM (#27341975)

    BUSTED!!

  • Selective Terrorism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:40AM (#27341999)

    "...They were trying to literally 'knock the socks off' a mannequin by igniting 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate."

    Uh, I like the show and all, but it's rather ironic that a couple of "celebrities" can get their hands on 500 pounds of this stuff and use it, when Average Joe can't manage to buy 50 pounds of "enriched" manure from Home Depot without tripping the "terrorist" flag at Homeland Security...

  • by cookieinc (975574) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:43AM (#27342051)
    Myth: Plausible
    Windows: Busted
  • by sweetking (1289558) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:44AM (#27342069)
    Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?
  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:01AM (#27342339)
    At this time, Buster is still unavailable for comments.

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