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Mythbusters Goofs Up Good

How fast can a cannonball travel? Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage were tackling this question yesterday for an episode of their TV show Mythbusters when things went completely wrong. The cannon misfired, and the cannonball went up into the air over Dublin, California. The next question they will probably tackle is whether the footage will be used on TV.
“This cannonball was supposed to go through several barrels of water and through a cinder block, and then ultimately into the side of the hill,” said J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.

Instead the cannonball flew over the foothills surrounding Camp Parks Military Firing Reservation, before spiraling back toward Dublin like a cruise missile.

It flew straight though the front door of a home on Cassata Place, and bounced around like a pinball, flying up to the second floor before blasting through a back bedroom wall.

The wayward cannonball then blasted across a busy road and through a second home some 50 yards away, demolishing roof tiles.

The story doesn't stop there, and neither did the cannonball. It finally came to rest inside a minivan. The driver had just left the vehicle minutes before. Incredibly, no one was injured in the incident. Ta da! Link -via reddit

As long as there is no lawsuit, I can't imagine why they wouldn't use it in the show. This is a teachable moment and could serve as a lesson for the wannabes at home that things aren't as easy as they look.
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Isn't it amazing how useless cannons were in ground warfare? They rarely went where they were aimed. Unless someone was directly in front of the ball, there was no danger. Naval was another matter. They were quite good at sinking other ships.
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Yeah, you always hear about the one cannonball accident - that's so unfair. Cyclists kill more pedestrians than cannonballs. That's the real menace.
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Edward @2
Yeah, roundshot was useless for ground war, but that's why they used grapeshot cannisters, sometimes with a ball behind it. Try to imagine that fired into a tightly-packed column of troops. Yikes!
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Solid round shot may have had a line of flight damage path. But those iron balls packed quite a wallop. There are many accounts of battles where men had their feet and/or legs torn off by cannon ball rolling by at a fairly low speed.
Solid shot was being phased out during the American Revolution. More effective were cannister rounds. Imagine a shotgun firing a shell 3 1/2 to 41/2 inches wide. instead of being loaded with No 6 birdshot, the shells are filled with lead or iron balls ranging in size from golf balls to racquetballs. Now you want to risk standing in front of one of them?
They also had shrapnel shells hollow cannon balls filled with gunpowder and musket balls and fused to explode on target.

BTW Naval cannon was effective against ship hulls because the solid shot from a 32 pounder demi-cannon (these guns weighed 3400 lbs or more) could penetrate three feet of oak at 300 ft. Most shops of the line also included cannon firing 42 pound shot. Also siding naval artillery was the use of chain shot, bar shot and cannister.
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Can't help but think that if any "normal" citizen did this, they would face immediate arrest.
(And the big danger from naval cannons was the oak splinters flying around.)
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@RyanS yup. So you'd better stay at home wrapped in bubble wrap. You don't want to be doing anything dangerous like crossing the street do you?

Get serious you have more chance of killing somebody driving your car than these guys do making their show.
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Thanks, LadyC. The source updated the story, and the changed date made the address different. I have the updated link now! And there's now a video of the Mythbusters apologizing to the neighbors.
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@Jolly No, I am not more likely to do that. I drive cautiously and have never caused any accidents. I have been the victim of multiple accidents but I have never caused one.

What makes most people dangerous behind the wheel is that they like to forget they are doing something potentially dangerous and instead focus on their pride and sense of power over the vehicle.

Likewise Mythbusters do not treat these things cautiously enough and they are not quite as thoughtful and rigorous as they would need to be if they were actually scientists.
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This can be seen in their gross indulgence in "explosions" as Adam likes to say "Let's blow something up" with a big giddy smile and his fists raised and clenched beside his ears. This outward expression of emotion is indicative of a state of mind that is not cautious or thoughtful, but teeming to destruction.

Viewers like it because violence and destruction (next to sex) is the content viewers most like to consume. This video would have twice as many views if someone had died.
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BTW I've seen every episode of Mythbusters on Netflix. I enjoy their show, I'm just not one of these people who shows absolute approval or disapproval of anyone or their actions. Mythbusters would be a much better show if they spent more time designing their experiments than designing the scene-changes and coming up with half-witty dialogs between the mythbusters. Their acting is horrendous anyway. Spend less time with bad puns and more time running extra trials to smooth out the results.

In their experiment where they wanted to see if slapping someone would "wake them up" and make them more capable cognitively, there never was any "blind" or similar controls. "Experimenter Expectancy Effect" is a HUGE problem for science. This is made infinitely more important when the experiment depends on "self-reports" as that experiment did. It doesn't matter that they all did (3 trials), they all knew what the experiment was about and even described their "expectancy" prior to the experiment. Then their self-reports were entirely consistent with their expectancy. No surprise considering Rosenthal identified this failure in experimentation decades ago.
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The worst thing about this show is probably the way they purport to be doing "science" and using the "scientific method" and the fact that masses of fashionable "rationalists" actually believe this to be true.

For people who can be seen endlessly supporting "science" and proclaiming its superiority the actual methods used in the show are more like "Trial and Error". The same kind of techniques a "special effects" expert might use. There is no "double blind" or satisfactory "control" in most of their experiments. But people believe this to be "science". Shooting a ball out of a cannon does not equate to an experiment rigidly holding to scientific methodology. It's just a bunch of people who like explosions blowing stuff up to see what happens.

Take a look at CERN or Fermilab. Could these particle colliders be operated in the same half-ass way? What happens if they start leaking gamma rays and other radioisotopes into the surrounding area? Even with crunching all the numbers and decades of planning there are occasional mishaps and meltdowns. Chernobyl. Fukushima. This stuff happens for the same reason, poor planning, lack of oversight and cutting corners.
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Let me see if I've got this right..... Cannon..... Residential neighborhood... Cannon.... Residential neighborhood...

Yeah, go for it! What could possibly go wrong.... Besides the sponsors are gonna love this!
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"It flew straight though the front door of a home on Cassata Place, and bounced around like a pinball, flying up to the second floor before blasting through a back bedroom wall." what objects were in this home that caused a cannonball flying straight, to "bounce around like a pinball". sounds unlikely to me at least that whole part of the story anyway
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