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Reminder: Remember that airplane/conveyer belt debate? The Mythbusters investigation airs tomorrow.
posted by grateful to MetaFilter-Related at 2:06 PM (159 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Awesome. Can't wait.
posted by loquacious at 2:12 PM on December 11, 2007


It's like the nerd superbowl.
posted by empath at 2:22 PM on December 11, 2007 [12 favorites]


Even though I have no question about the outcome (the plane will travel back in time and kill asavage's grandparents) I would find it fun to watch. Someone in the Bay Area with a TV please invite me to watch it!
posted by aubilenon at 2:24 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


So what's the over/under?
(And does that question ironically lead me to the answer...?)
posted by phaedon at 2:40 PM on December 11, 2007


Are they going to do something obnoxious like use a remote controlled airplane and scaled conveyor belt?
posted by xmutex at 2:41 PM on December 11, 2007


I think they were going to use an ultralight.
posted by exogenous at 2:42 PM on December 11, 2007


Remember that airplane/conveyer belt debate?

Sometimes, late at night, I see it hovering near my bedroom door. It smiles, fangs gleaming in the pale moonlight. Small drops of saliva slowly frothing at it's mouth, drip, drop.
   "What do you want?", I cry out. "Begone, creature from hell!"
   It doesn't obey me, slowly it starts to move towards the foot of my bed. Another smile is flashed, I can hear the words forming beneath it's throat flesh.
   "No! No, don't speak! Please, I beg you. Do not speak."
   Yellow, stained teeth. Smile. Gurgle. Syllables, form sentances. It is hugging me now. Sticky proclamations, bad psysics, heated arguments - it's being is filling my every pore.
   I scream in terror. And then I wake up. Sweaty.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:56 PM on December 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can't wait to see paulsc's reaction when he's wrong.
posted by shmegegge at 2:58 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I think they were going to use an ultralight."

I heard Metafilter's own asavage will just run like hell on a treadmill, flapping his arms as hard as he can.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:59 PM on December 11, 2007 [11 favorites]


I heard they got a group of philosophers together and conducted it as a thought experiment.
posted by found missing at 3:14 PM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey guys, did you know asavage is a MeFi member?
posted by ORthey at 3:16 PM on December 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's like the nerd superbowl.

We were going to have an Austin meetup to watch the nerd superbowl, but I guess nobody could think of a bar that would let us watch the Discovery channel.

Oh well. I'd just watch it for the commercials, anyway.
posted by bluishorange at 3:17 PM on December 11, 2007


I can't wait to see paulsc's reaction when he's wrong.

I'll spoil his reaction for you: Mythbusters did it wrong and he's still right.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:17 PM on December 11, 2007 [8 favorites]


Conveyor belts! That's where planes are vikings!
posted by hermitosis at 3:18 PM on December 11, 2007 [8 favorites]


Hey guys, did you know asavage is a MeFi member?

I guess that would explain that weird tape in the background of the shop.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:19 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I heard they got a cube farm of employees together and conducted it as a team-building exercise.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:21 PM on December 11, 2007


but I guess nobody could think of a bar that would let us watch the Discovery channel.

That's the most poignant commentary on modern society I've ever heard.
posted by ORthey at 3:22 PM on December 11, 2007 [12 favorites]


...and the conveyor belt will be hooked up to a polygraph to assure accuracy.
posted by wendell at 3:35 PM on December 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm just hoping some shit blows up. I like me some big ol' 'splosions.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:44 PM on December 11, 2007


I'm just hoping this will end this incessant, never ending thought thread. But I know it won't
posted by edgeways at 3:54 PM on December 11, 2007


That's the most poignant commentary on modern society I've ever heard.

Maybe, but it's not like the ancient Romans gathered at the Colosseum to watch math competitions.
posted by bluishorange at 3:55 PM on December 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


I asked my uncle (physics degree), and after explaining all the details to him, he thought for a minute and replied:

"It depends"
posted by Autarky at 4:01 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know what will happen. Conclusively. Here is what will happen.

The first plane on the conveyor will stand there and block the conveyor like a god damned goober while another more important plane that really, really, needs to get where it's going gets stuck behind it. A plane that doesn't have god damned time to contemplate "if the the Cinnabon on concourse 3 is open, and oh, look, they have a Starbuck here, too?"

And so plane number two, who has already cleared his throat politely AND said "pardon me?" twice just hits the turbo and slams into the oblivious numbskull plane number one. And there is fire. There is death. There is carnage.

So. HOW DO YOU LIKE THE CONVEYOR NOW! SEE YOU IN HELL!
posted by tkchrist at 4:39 PM on December 11, 2007 [12 favorites]


"Hey guys, did you know asavage is a MeFi member?"

The first time I saw "MeFi" in the background during one of those times when Savage and ...that guy with the clean shirt I forget his name... are standing around in front of the camera summarizing the episode? Pretending they are having a natural conversation that's not staged at all?

I did a doubletake I was like, "..naw! That can't be! They read MeFi? Cool!" In fact I think I hit rewind and checked it again.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:04 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lift is generated by wings. If a plane can achieve enough air flow over the wing surface the plane will fly.

As to the conveyor belt question: If the propulsive force of the engines can overcome the friction generated by the wheel/conveyor belt interaction as well as produce enough forward velocity to generate a lift force in excess of the weight of the plane the plane will fly.
posted by vapidave at 5:07 PM on December 11, 2007


I was very amused to see this excellent analogy dropped into a thread on here the other day.

For the first time in about 18 months, I wish I had a TV. I miss Mythbusters - it was one of the few things I could be bothered to watch and I'm unsure how I can persuade them that I would be a truly excellent and highly valuable (non TV appearing) employee if I am not up to speed on the details of the current show.

Bah.
posted by Brockles at 5:10 PM on December 11, 2007


I really don't understand why this is such an interesting subject. It's not like a plane takes off by using its wheels like a car.

I'm starting to think this is some sort of weird viral experiment using the web to plant doubt where doubt should not reasonably exist.
posted by clevershark at 6:52 PM on December 11, 2007


The Austin meetup is still on.
posted by Pants! at 7:11 PM on December 11, 2007

I really don't understand why this is such an interesting subject. It's not like a plane takes off by using its wheels like a car.
Here's a seemingly simple physics problem: a car taxis in one direction on a moving conveyor belt going the opposite direction. Can the car take off? The debate rages on and on and on....
posted by theiconoclast31 at 7:21 PM on December 11, 2007


tanding around in front of the camera summarizing the episode? Pretending they are having a natural conversation that's not staged at all?

Yeah, exposition gets tiresome after awhile. It always reminds me of the kind of fiction you get in books you buy because it's the only thing available to read on a long trip and you're hoping against hope that it's okay while fairly certain it sucks so bad you'd rather stare at the window for hours ("Sarah! I haven't seen you since the night your car slid off the road near Widowmaker Peak, tumbling fifty feet to rest in the snow against the firs below. The authorities assured us you must be dead given the broken windows and the temperature that night, and after the seven-day search ended fruitlessly, we thought you must be too.")
posted by Tuwa at 7:53 PM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Out the window, not at it. Though I guess staring at it for hours could indicate a boredom so intense that autism looks attractive in comparison.

And, now that I think of it, most of the Star Trek series do the same thing, but slightly better, I guess for the benefit of anyone who missed the start of the program ("Captain's Log, Stardate whatever: after answering a distress signal from a largely unpopulated planet, we have discovered a Borg vessel on the far side of the planet, apparently adrift. It has not attempted to contact us. Meanwhile, the ship's sensors can not locate Ryker and his away crew.")
posted by Tuwa at 8:01 PM on December 11, 2007


("Sarah! I haven't seen you since the night your car slid off the road near Widowmaker Peak, tumbling fifty feet to rest in the snow against the firs below. The authorities assured us you must be dead given the broken windows and the temperature that night, and after the seven-day search ended fruitlessly, we thought you must be too.")
posted by Tuwa


HEY! HEY!!!! How 'bout a SPOILER ALERT there, huh!

Sheesh.
posted by The Deej at 8:02 PM on December 11, 2007


I really don't understand why this is such an interesting subject. It's not like a plane takes off by using its wheels like a car.

I'm starting to think this is some sort of weird viral experiment using the web to plant doubt where doubt should not reasonably exist.
posted by clevershark


I'm with ya. I will of course watch the show, since it's always entertaining. (And did you know Adam is a MeFi member? It's true. He is. He really is. I even checked snopes@) But, yeah, I don't see where the debate is. Is there maybe a hurricane involved?
posted by The Deej at 8:06 PM on December 11, 2007


Plane takes off. Film at 11.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:42 PM on December 11, 2007


I'm starting to think this is some sort of weird viral experiment using the web to plant doubt where doubt should not reasonably exist.

No, no, that was the Ralph Viking Sleep thing.

And it's premiering at 12pm?? Wtf?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:46 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


When the plane takes off, we will have a situation similar to what occurred when the first photographs of the earth from space were publicized. From Wikipedia:

In 1956, the Flat Earth Society found itself under scrutiny. There were various photographs of the earth from space and later the moon. Member Samuel Shenton remarked: "It's easy to see how a photograph like that could fool the untrained eye."
posted by Tube at 9:25 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I can't wait to see paulsc's reaction when he's wrong."
posted by shmegegge at 5:58 PM on December 11

I booked $0 in action, on my offer. Not a single taker on e-mail, or MeFi mail. 0, zip, nada, not a single bet, nothing. At any odds.

Kinda kills the suspense, for me...

Aren't these the same guys that kept loading fresh pork sausage in a tube, and changing the ignition conditions, until a "Confederate rocket" powered by pork sausage, "flew?"

Maybe, I'm confusing episodes. I get flustered whenever Kari flips her pigtails. Not that I don't think that Tory isn't just the bees' knees!

*Tory skied behind an ocean liner!!! For reals!!! How cool!!!*
posted by paulsc at 9:31 PM on December 11, 2007


this is good! ++++would fly again.
posted by stirfry at 11:24 PM on December 11, 2007


*steeples fingers* Fantastic.
posted by empyrean at 11:52 PM on December 11, 2007


Even if it does take off, it will be 30 minutes late.
posted by dg at 11:56 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lift is generated by wings. If a plane can achieve enough air flow over the wing surface the plane will fly.

As to the conveyor belt question: If the propulsive force of the engines can overcome the friction generated by the wheel/conveyor belt interaction as well as produce enough forward velocity to generate a lift force in excess of the weight of the plane the plane will fly.


Flagged as derail.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:34 AM on December 12, 2007


paulsc, you seem convinced that your bet somehow means you're right. It's entirely irrelevant.

People aren't afraid you're right and avoiding the bet because of it. Rather, they're not willing to bet because your conditions are unreasonable, requiring the expense of at least tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to net a paltry $1k.

Put up a million bucks and you might get a taker, assuming someone with adequate cash to stage the bet to your requirements happens to read about it.

At $1k payoff, nobody will ever take your bet, even at 1:1 odds. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the underlying facts, and everything to do with payoff versus expense.

Even at 100% certainty, spending $50k to net a $1k payout is stupid.
posted by Malor at 3:41 AM on December 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


As a corollary to paulsc's bet, I hereby bet $50 that if you:

A) take one million dollar bills, and pile them in a big stack;
B) Douse them thoroughly in gasoline;
C) Light them on fire and let them burn completely,

then no heat will be emitted.

Obviously, since nobody is willing to take my $50 bet, those burning bills will emit only light, not heat.

Come on, you Barcalounger physicists, let's see one of you step up to the plate and prove me wrong. Can't do it? Obviously you have no faith in your position.
posted by Malor at 4:21 AM on December 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


Even at 100% certainty, spending $50k to net a $1k payout is stupid.

A guaranteed 2% return is better than most checking accounts.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:28 AM on December 12, 2007


Sigh - never mind. I suppose I should have read the original post first.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:30 AM on December 12, 2007


chrisamiller, you're confusing return ON capital with return OF capital. :)
posted by Malor at 7:31 AM on December 12, 2007


This had better settle the matter, or so help me god I am going to go on a planetary rampage. If this topic comes up again, say goodbye to Sri Lanka.
posted by aramaic at 8:18 AM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's a seemingly simple physics problem: a car taxis in one direction on a moving conveyor belt going the opposite direction. Can the car take off? The debate rages on and on and on....

Now imagine the car explodes. Where do you bury the survivors? It's all so confusing!
posted by clevershark at 8:40 AM on December 12, 2007


Where do you bury the survivors?

At the bottom of page 7, next to the taxidermy ad.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Have you heard about the two-seater Cessna plane that crashed in a cemetary in Ireland? Rescuers say they've recovered 150 bodies so far, and they vowed to keep digging.
posted by clevershark at 8:54 AM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


^^^ If you're Irish pretend I said the plane crashed in Belgium.
posted by clevershark at 8:55 AM on December 12, 2007


[not belgiumist]
posted by empath at 9:00 AM on December 12, 2007


Dudes, the plane can not take off if it doesn't have any air moving over its wings, which it won't, as the conveyor belt keeps it in one place. Here's what should happen:

1. Engine on.
2. Plane lurches forward a bit on prop pull or jet thrust
3. Conveyor begins to turn beneath plane's wheels
4. Plane velocity reaches zero
5. Conveyor outpacaces plane, plane moves "back" on conveyor
6. Conveyor speed decays
7. Plane's thrust/pull creates minimal forward motion (see #2)
8. 3-7

There is no way a plane with a velocity of approximately zero can take off. If it suddenly had a massive dpse of lift, it would be in the air with a velocity of zero, and would crash quickly and probably relatively unspectacularly. Get it?

Unless I'm misreadin the question...
posted by Mister_A at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2007


I think it is funny that you think the conveyor belt will keep it in one place. How will it do that, exactly? Do you think that airplanes move forward because their wheels are turning, like a car?
posted by found missing at 10:11 AM on December 12, 2007


HEY I KNOW WHY DON'T WE DISCUSS THE PROBLEM AT LENGTH AGAIN THAT'D BE FUN
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:13 AM on December 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


1 = .999... amirte?
posted by found missing at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


After reading just a small portion of that thread, I'm now terrified at the thought of paulsc piloting anything in our friendly skies. Wow.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2007


- SWITCH TO THE OTHER DOOR
- IT'S NOT $29, IT'S $35, THE BELLBOY DIDN'T CHEAT
- SHYLOCK FOXED NOTICED THAT CASSANDRA CAT'S FEET WERE WET
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Of course I don't think that found missing, but the source of the turning of the wheels is incromulent to the problem at hand. If the wheels turn, they will actuate the conveyor beneath, unless the friction of the mechanisms of the conveyor belt is too great to be overcome, in which case the plane will flop off the end of the conveyor belt, ending consideration of the problem.

Also: cortex, are you new here? Re-hashing old arguments is the raison d'etre of MetaTalk.
posted by Mister_A at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2007


You need to explain how the conveyor keeps the plane in one place. Maybe paulsc's arguments will help you.
posted by found missing at 10:37 AM on December 12, 2007


You need to explain how a plane with velocity = 0 will take off. THAT'S WHO NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING!!
posted by Mister_A at 10:42 AM on December 12, 2007


I didn't claim that the plane has zero velocity. You claimed that the conveyor belt would hold the plane in place. You haven't explained how it would do that.
posted by found missing at 10:44 AM on December 12, 2007


That is the very premise of the problem. That's how I explain it. HAHAHAHA! I HAVE SMITED YOU WITH MY MIND POWER!!!!!11!!
posted by Mister_A at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2007


Please reply in this format:

[Reasonable statement] [Supporting statement for preceding statement][Batshit insane allcaps rant]
posted by Mister_A at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


damn. foiled again.
posted by found missing at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2007


Mister_a, what you're missing is that there is no way for the conveyor belt, no matter how fast it is going, to stop the plane from moving forward.
posted by empath at 10:58 AM on December 12, 2007


You claimed that the conveyor belt would hold the plane in place.

Imagine that you're wearing rollerskates and standing on a treadmill. You can substitute rollerblades or a skateboard if you prefer, but I like to kick it old-school. Eight wheels on the floor - yeeaaaah.

Now, on top of your awesome high-top skates, you also find that you're wearing a jetpack. Think 'the Rocketeer', but about ten times cooler.

Your first reaction, naturally, should be "HOLY SHIT! SWEET JETPACK!".

Then, unless you're some risk adverse wuss, your second reaction should be "let's fire this baby up". Now, with 10000 newtons of high-tech, jet-engine, flaming thrust strapped to your back, is there any way that some dinky treadmill moving backwards is going to keep you from skating off into the sunset?

Pshhhhah. As if.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:08 AM on December 12, 2007


Mister_A: I'll keep this very short so we don't go through all the pain again. The wheels aren't the motive force for the plane; they exist purely to decouple it from the ground, to reduce friction to almost zero. If the ground is a conveyor belt, it will double the friction, but two times almost zero is still almost zero. So the plane will take off almost normally. Its wheels will spin twice as fast, meaning wheel steering will be twice as responsive, but in all other ways it will take off normally.

Another way to think about it: Can a boat sail upstream against a current? Or would the water hold it in place?
posted by Malor at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2007


Can a boat sail upstream against a current?

What's its hull speed?
posted by sfenders at 11:14 AM on December 12, 2007


no matter how fast it is going, to stop the plane from moving forward

In the real world, you are absolutely correct. In a theoretical world, I believe a constantly-acclerating belt could offset the constantly-accelerating plane and hold it in place, because the belt would be accelerating the wheels to the rear as well.

You'd eventually end up with a conveyor belt moving, and wheels spinning, at relativistic velocity. No real belt could ever do that, and no real tire could possibly spin that fast. In an imaginary world of perfect theoretical things, however, I think a conveyor belt actually could stop a plane from taking off.

This doesn't match the original question: the puzzle has the belt matching the plane's forward motion, which would do almost nothing. But that doesn't mean it couldn't ever affect it no matter what: if the belt matched acceleration instead of speed, I think it could hold the plane in place.
posted by Malor at 11:19 AM on December 12, 2007


Re-hashing old arguments is the raison d'etre of MetaTalk.

I disagree.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:19 AM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


there is no way for the conveyor belt, no matter how fast it is going, to stop the plane from moving forward.

Nonsense. Ways include:

*The conveyor belt might have embarrassing photos of the airplane with a helicopter.

*The airplane and conveyor might love each other very much.

*If the conveyor goes fast enough, it will acquire enough relativistic mass to hold down the plane by gravity alone.

*It might have a gun.

*The conveyor might be very small and be used as a wheel chock.

*The conveyor might be placed sideways over the runway.

*The conveyor might have plane-shredding apparati attached to different parts of the belt.

*The conveyor might be made of very coarse sandpaper.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:24 AM on December 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


"Can a boat sail upstream against a current? Or would the water hold it in place?"

Their side of the argument (I have no dog in this fight, I'm just fostering understanding) is that the question should be more like. "If a hydrofoil is going downstream it doesn't plane just because it's land speed is fast enough to plane"
posted by Megafly at 11:30 AM on December 12, 2007


Metafilter: [BATSHIT INSANE ALLCAPS RANT]
posted by scrump at 11:56 AM on December 12, 2007


Well, that's a different thing -- hydrofoils plane based on water speed, so land and air speed are mostly irrelevant. Both the motive force and almost all of the drag come from the same medium, the water. A hydrofoil on moving water is very similar to a car on a conveyor belt, though of course cars don't have a 'planing' state.

The reason this problem is confusing to many people is because the motive power is air-based, but the drag is land-based. The ship sailing upriver is a good way to illustrate the problem, because in that case, the propulsion comes from the wind, while the drag comes from the water. A plane on a conveyor belt is very similar... the thrust and the drag are coming from separate domains... thrust from air, drag from wheels.

Hulls have a lot more drag than wheels do, so current affects boats a lot more than a conveyor would affect a plane, but it's a good analogy to illustrate the forces at work.
posted by Malor at 12:06 PM on December 12, 2007


since nobody is willing to take my $50 bet, those burning bills will emit only light, not heat.

The KLF burnt a million pounds in UK banknotes (approx $2.7m US today). From the extant "Gimpo" video of the event, and the eye witness accounts, it's quite clear that heat was being emitted along with visible light. I see no reason why US banknotes would exhibit different properties.
posted by meehawl at 12:15 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry, if you want my $50, you have to burn actual US currency where I can see it myself. I don't trust your silly instruments. :)
posted by Malor at 12:16 PM on December 12, 2007


is there any way that some dinky treadmill moving backwards is going to keep you from skating off into the sunset?

forgive my ignorance, but why isn't the weight of the plane on the wheels (or the person on the skates) a factor in how much effect the treadmill has?
posted by mdn at 1:04 PM on December 12, 2007


I believe the thinking is that while the frictional force (IE: How much force the treadmill can exert) is proportional to the weight of the plane/person, this frictional force is still far smaller than the thrust force that it opposes.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:10 PM on December 12, 2007


I am going to wait and see what the TV people say, although Malor has explained the problem pretty well methinks...

So I am semi-converted.
posted by Mister_A at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2007


SPOILER:

screenshot from the show.
posted by empath at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2007


OH JESUS ITS HAPPENING AGAIN.
posted by flashboy at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2007


cortex has a cassandra crush!
posted by Wolfdog at 1:31 PM on December 12, 2007


why isn't the weight of the plane [...] a factor in how much effect the treadmill has?

It is, absolutely. But it's very small, because wheels are explicitly designed to reduce rolling friction. If you weigh a lot, you'll cause more drag, but it's still a very small amount.

posted by Malor at 1:35 PM on December 12, 2007


I have managed to talk my local watering hole into showing this one the television this evening.
posted by empath at 1:38 PM on December 12, 2007


Thanks empath, for the scientistic evidence.
posted by Mister_A at 1:40 PM on December 12, 2007


People aren't afraid you're right and avoiding the bet because of it. Rather, they're not willing to bet because your conditions are unreasonable, requiring the expense of at least tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to net a paltry $1k.

You're forgetting option C which is "no one wanted to actually email him to discuss it any further".

And option D, which is "I don't talk to truly crazy people".

I seem to have chosen a mixture of these two options.
posted by loquacious at 1:45 PM on December 12, 2007


Mister_A: So I am semi-converted.

You now have broken the tenuous frictional bonds of your metaphorical backwards moving conveyor belt. You have taken wing and are soaring on the updrafts of knowledge, my little Icarus.
posted by found missing at 1:49 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Has anyone taken off from a seaplane in a current going upstream?!?!?!?!
posted by geoff. at 1:54 PM on December 12, 2007


geoff.: HEAD ASPLODE!!!11!!

African or European?
posted by Mister_A at 1:56 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


currents don't go upstream, unless they are in eddies
posted by found missing at 1:56 PM on December 12, 2007


Imagine if there were snakes on the plane. JUST LISTEN I'M GOING SOMEWHERE WITH THIS!!!11!!

Like, a lot of snakes. Enough snakes to increase the mass of the plane to neutron-star density. WHERE IS YOUR TREADMILL NOW???
posted by Mister_A at 2:00 PM on December 12, 2007


Enough snakes to increase the mass of the plane to neutron-star density.

You Fool!! Snakes can never be as dense as neutron Stars unless they are dreaded NEUTRON STAR SNAKES!!!
posted by Megafly at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2007


Eddie's in the space-time continuum. Currants are in muffins and things like that.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:16 PM on December 12, 2007


Choo-choo trains can climb tall mountains by reciting 'over-and-again': "I think I can--I think I can."

Conveyor-belted aeroplanes can take-off by singing 'over-and-again': "I can fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings."
posted by ericb at 2:24 PM on December 12, 2007


If you weigh a lot, you'll cause more drag...

Dammit...you know how threads about weight usually end-up on MeFi.
posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on December 12, 2007


Malor has an extensive explanation of his point of view, only he's not talking about the same problem that most of us are thinking about. He's imagining a variable-speed, powered treadmill that theoretically can speed up to infinity, not as a factor of the airplane's speed, but manually by an external observer.

That's a very silly proposition. He seems to be implying that it's possible to get the treadmill going at a speed so ludicrous that the (minimal) friction of the wheels of the plane would effectively offset the thrust of the engines. Those speeds would have to be very high, much higher than any known safe landing speed. I highly doubt that the plane could maintain its integrity withstanding forces like that. The landing gears would collapse, the plane would hit the treadmill at its lowest point (usually the engines), and it would then come apart because of the friction. I'm pretty sure that the treadmill engine would be toast at this point, as would be anyone standing within a few hundred meters of it.

Mind you, THAT would make for exciting television!
posted by clevershark at 2:35 PM on December 12, 2007


Another preview screen cap.
posted by Rumple at 3:13 PM on December 12, 2007


I'm saying two different things, clevershark, and it appears you confused them. I agree with you 100%.

The two things I'm saying:

A: In the real world, the conveyor belt will not stop the plane, and will in fact barely affect it, except for doubling the responsiveness of steering. As long as the wheels can take double normal takeoff speed, everything should be fine.

Some people said that 'the conveyor couldn't possibly affect the plane'. So I wanted to point out that it COULD, if you changed the parameters of the problem. So,

B: In a bizarre hypothetical world, a conveyor could potentially stop a plane by continuous acceleration. This couldn't possibly happen in the real world, but given materials of infinite strength, I suspect it would work.

To those two things, I'll also add,

C: If the conveyor belt goes fast enough, it could shred the wheels before takeoff. That's doable in the real world.
posted by Malor at 3:15 PM on December 12, 2007


Imagine a plane with frictionless wheels, on a frictionless conveyor belt. The plane will never take off, because the pilot will fall on his ass before he ever even reaches it; his co-pilot, running to his assistance, will skate right past him, sliding gracelessly on one foot until his forehead collides with the plane's wing. The transfer of inertia will cause the plane to slowly, majestically skid around towards the pilot while everyone in the control tower watches helplessly, until the landing gear finally impacts the pilot's left leg, crushing it between the twin frictionless surfaces of the wheel and the conveyor belt -- an eerie sensation which he will in later years frequently bore his grandchildren by failing to describe it from the relative safety of his wheelchair. A junior engineer will turn the belt power on, hoping to carry the pilot, copilot and stranded plane into the waiting arms of the paramedics on the far end -- but even this gambit fails: the conveyor belt sliding silently under them all without visible effect. All three -- the moaning, bleeding pilot; the concussed and unconscious co-pilot; the slightly dented Cessna -- remain pinned firmly in place by their own inertia, stranded in the sun for hours, until their eventual rescue by helicopter.

Q E Fucking D, baby.
posted by ook at 3:31 PM on December 12, 2007 [22 favorites]


Hold on a damn second.

What if the rescue chopper starts out on a conveyor belt?
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:42 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


AH FUCK SO MUCH FOR THAT PLAN DAMMIT
posted by ook at 3:55 PM on December 12, 2007


But think of the entertainment value of seeing a 767 collapse an explode on a hundred-foot-wide treadmill running at about the speed of sound, pulled along by motors the size of buildings which would then themselves probably explode, and cause a surge on the nuclear power station that it would need to run, which might then conceivably melt down causing unimaginable doom and gloom and leaving an area the size of a city uninhabitable for hundreds of years.

Now THAT's entertainment! You gotta think big! I would seriously buy that PPV event.
posted by clevershark at 4:34 PM on December 12, 2007


well, just so long as someone youtubes it... I am still surprised the force of the weight is so small that everyone says it will be a totally normal take off & it's not even worth doing the math to factor in what the friction will be, since it's not really 'some dinky treadmill' but by definition one which is going back at the same speed that the thrust supplies going forward, so if gravity can cause any significant relation between the surfaces it seems like it would at least have some noticeable effect on the time it takes to get up to ground speed. But I defer to those with more experience & understanding - I guess it makes sense that planes are light in comparison to the thrust, etc.

sorry - back to snakes & helicopters :).
posted by mdn at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2007


Are these frictionless snakes?
posted by aubilenon at 5:29 PM on December 12, 2007


Is that a frictionless snake in your pocket?
posted by found missing at 5:34 PM on December 12, 2007


I think I've effected a successful handoff of this topic now to Malor, simply by sitting back in my BarcaLounger. You go, guy!

I'm gonna go watch MythBusters.
posted by paulsc at 5:48 PM on December 12, 2007


I think we may have gotten our hopes up for nothing.
posted by proj at 6:49 PM on December 12, 2007


metafilter. you lied to me!

Also, Point Break Myths?!
posted by ulotrichous at 6:55 PM on December 12, 2007


Hmm, MeTa has a bad track record of predicting what's going to be on TV.
posted by delmoi at 7:01 PM on December 12, 2007


Yeah, no conveyor belts in that one. Just Point Break.
posted by puke & cry at 7:01 PM on December 12, 2007


I gotta remember to never let the internets tell me what to watch.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:02 PM on December 12, 2007


That was disappointing. Still, Jamie did land the plane.

Metafilter: pull my finger and it sounds like a tuba.
posted by misha at 7:03 PM on December 12, 2007


Eddie's in the space-time continuum

So I keep hearing.
posted by loquacious at 7:04 PM on December 12, 2007


Nuts.
posted by steef at 7:04 PM on December 12, 2007


That was so disappointing. Airplane on a conveyer belt would have been much more fulfilling tonight.
posted by odi.et.amo at 7:05 PM on December 12, 2007


LIARS
posted by item at 7:11 PM on December 12, 2007


Also, I can't believe that "free-fall for 90 seconds from 4000 feet" was even given screen time.
posted by proj at 7:13 PM on December 12, 2007


Lies!
posted by JakeLL at 7:43 PM on December 12, 2007


Also, I can't believe that "free-fall for 90 seconds from 4000 feet" was even given screen time.

Eh, they just did that because the dummy going splat looked good on tv.
posted by puke & cry at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dude, that was just an excuse for that AWESOME impact.

Too bad they didn't use one of their dead pigs, if you ask me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:48 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


For those of us who didn't watch the episode - what happened?
posted by mrbill at 8:11 PM on December 12, 2007


Maybe they're investigating the myth that they can make thousands of people tune in to a show one night (and practically make watching the show a social event) by floating a rumor on the internets :-) Or even just making a point of not denying said rumor!
posted by clevershark at 8:11 PM on December 12, 2007


Okay, I've determined that the plane-on-a-treadmill myth was not shown, discussed, or tested.
posted by mrbill at 8:23 PM on December 12, 2007


You are correct. However, if you are flying on a plane in which the pilot and co-pilot are suddenly and inexplicably incapacitated, make sure Adam or Jamie are on the plane with you. Either of them could land the plane, if they were talked down by an air traffic controller!

Or not. It's actually just as likely that any idiot could land a plane if they were talked down by a professional, but even if they couldn't, the autopilot would do it for you. So - yeah, I didn't take away much of value from this episode.
posted by yhbc at 8:30 PM on December 12, 2007


But Commish, Point Break!
posted by puke & cry at 8:32 PM on December 12, 2007


Yeah, that's another thing. They spent an inordinate amount of time and energy on three things from the movie that could have been solved with pencil and paper using pretty elementary math and physics.

1. Can you jump from a plane at 4000 feet and carry out an action sequence lasting 90 seconds? No.

2. Can you be falling at terminal velocity (120+/- MPH) and carry on a conversation with someone falling next to you? No.

3. Can you jump from a plane after giving someone else a 15-second head start and catch up to that person if he falls at the highest possible drag position and you position yourself to fall with maximum velocity (head first, arms and legs tucked)? Yes, but forget about doing it in that 4000 feet window mentioned in #1 above.

Lame-O.
posted by yhbc at 8:55 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bummer. At least Project Runway was good.
posted by rtha at 9:01 PM on December 12, 2007


Man. That was a pretty weak episode.
posted by zsazsa at 9:20 PM on December 12, 2007


You guys are lame for not watching the episode in a bar.
posted by Faux Real at 9:28 PM on December 12, 2007


They spent an inordinate amount of time and energy on three things from the movie that could have been solved with pencil and paper using pretty elementary math and physics.

You don't get the show.

The point is not that they could have been solved with pencil, paper, equations, and brains. That is what Snopes is for, maybe. Or various "bad physics" and "stupid movies!" websites.

The point is actually showing you the answer. Physically. With real stuff that you can poke with a stick if you're in the Bay Area.

And ideally, the point is to show you the answer physically in a way that destroys something, because explosions, impacts, and bullet hits are all *AWESOME* when they are not happening to people or even live critters.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:31 PM on December 12, 2007


Producer response on the (crappy) Discovery boards.

It's supposed to air Jan 30th now.
posted by smackfu at 9:54 PM on December 12, 2007


I love the show for showing me stuff - especially by using explosives, and bullets, and overturning buses, and dummies being dropped from great heights, and pig carcasses being...well, all the stuff they do to pig carcasses (what, was ballistics gel getting too expensive?) - rather than doing it in chalk-and-talk (I've already barely scraped through high school physics, thanks). But except for seeing everybody get all giddy from the skydiving, which was fun, this one was not up to their usual standards, IMO.
posted by rtha at 9:54 PM on December 12, 2007


You think you guys are bummed? In Austin we had a meetup where we watched the whole conveyor-beltless episode. Good times were had in spite of the fact that Adam Savage lied to us.
posted by bluishorange at 10:04 PM on December 12, 2007


"... Still, Jamie did land the plane simulator. ..."
posted by misha at 10:03 PM on December 12

ftfy.

Extra credit: Simulators are to airplanes as BarcaLoungers are to ____________.

Also, the majority of FAA air controllers are not air transport rated pilots, so if that had been A Real EmergencyTM, Jaimie would've been SOL trying to get instructions via radio from a "controller." But in simulator world, sure, why wouldn't the air controllers all know how to fly airplanes?

I love this show!

And didn't Kari do a great job running that stopwatch?

I wonder if they could get a conveyor, powered by pork sausage, that exactly matched the speed of a Mythbuster running backwards in a tandem parachute training harness, to fling a ham over a shark?
posted by paulsc at 10:18 PM on December 12, 2007


You see, the myth was that there would be a plane. On a conveyor belt.

That myth was totally busted.
posted by found missing at 10:19 PM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Not surprised. Classic trick. Pretend like you're going to show the ole planes on a conveyor belt myth and substitute it with some lame ass parachuting horseshit. That's a sure fire way to put asses in the seats!

Shit, my granpa told me about that kinda stuff back in the old Vaudeville days. Fairly classic ruse. You all fell for it like a bunch a rubes! Ha!
posted by jefbla at 11:00 PM on December 12, 2007


mythbusters is fail
posted by empath at 11:36 PM on December 12, 2007


How can we still call him Metafilter's own™ after this charade?

[rips badge from asavage's chest]
posted by loiseau at 4:13 AM on December 13, 2007


Worst example of whatever it was I've ever seen.
posted by Mister_A at 5:37 AM on December 13, 2007


Jaimie would've been SOL trying to get instructions via radio from a "controller."

In a real emergency, you could find a pilot. I've heard there are lots of them at airports.
posted by smackfu at 5:39 AM on December 13, 2007


That was awesome! It totally flew!
posted by MarkAnd at 6:03 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I’ve never seen that show before, but I’ve certainly been hearing a lot of talk about it what with that one dude posting stuff on Metafilter.

I liked the parts when they did stuff. When they weren’t doing stuff, when they talked about doing stuff, I wanted to tear my liver out and throw it at the screen. Is it always that… I dunno… cheesy?

I respect what they do, I’ll certainly watch it again. I might even set a season pass, but good lord they need to not be so damn wooden when they talk.

And I, too, was disappointed they didn’t do the plane/conveyor thing. The ATC thing was pretty good, though now we’ve probably got even more geek hero-wannabees fantasizing about the pilot and co-pilot suddenly dying. I’d bet 50% of the people in that situation couldn’t even figure out how to tune in the tower to ask for help in the first place.

At least the redhead was cute. [YEP, SEXIST]
posted by bondcliff at 6:04 AM on December 13, 2007


bondcliff, the cheesiness is somewhat new. My guess is that they go through the explanations in painful detail to prevent excessive "YOU DID THAT WRONG" comments on their message boards that they've mentioned on the show in the past.

It doesn't, however, prevent the "YOU DIDN'T DO POAC*" on MeFi.

*Plane on a conveyer
posted by odi.et.amo at 6:22 AM on December 13, 2007


bondclilff, wow no one on fark or any other internet forum has ever said that Kari was cute. You forgot the part about calling her an it, and saying that it is something you would hit.

Also, they did seem damn wooden. I haven't watched that show for a while. Did they always read scripts badly like that? I seem to recall that there used to be more natural banter.
posted by found missing at 7:16 AM on December 13, 2007


I was disappointed until I remembered the South Park episode from a few years back; the one where they were going to reveal who Cartman's father was in the second episode, yet the program was nothing but a Terrance and Phillip show?

That's what this Mythbusters was to me. A way to ratchet up the tension on a contentious myth, perhaps even a social experiment (as suggested above) on how we react to something we've been expecting and are now denied.

My dream conclusion to the January 30th episode: "So, plane will take off from a conveyor belt? Busted! And the myth that fans will wait calmly for an answer after expecting a resolution? Also busted. And on that note, we'd like to wish our best to the cities and towns that are still burning as a result of the "confusion" over last months programing "mix-up", our hearts go out to you and your airports. We hope to have the fan installed conveyors removed shortly."
posted by quin at 7:19 AM on December 13, 2007


*sends killer ninjas back to asavage's place*

BRING ME ALL THE SHINY THINGS AND/OR ALL THE THINGS THAT GO "BOOM", "FWOOMP" OR "ZZZZT"

also batteries. gonna build a ro-bot.
posted by loquacious at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


You forgot the part about calling her an it, and saying that it is something you would hit.

Sorry, I’m not up on the lingo. I’m still using “Sha-wing.” I was going to say something about her being hunted by the aristocracy, with only her cunning to protect her, but I didn’t want to look like a smartypants.
posted by bondcliff at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2007


I swear, if this promised MacGyver episode never airs, I'm hopping in my airplane and strafing every treadmill from here to San Francisco.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:43 AM on December 13, 2007


I'm surprised no one has gone down to a Bally with a model sopwith and a camcorder and made an epic .gif yet.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2007


I'm hopping in my airplane and strafing every treadmill from here to San Francisco.

Good luck trying to get it off the ground!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:55 AM on December 13, 2007


A day that will forever live in infamy.... The MB Wikipedia page is locked until the nerdfury is quelled.
posted by steef at 9:32 AM on December 13, 2007


My sockpuppets and I are demanding a public apology/refund/virgin sacrifice/gift certificate/shoutout from asavage.
posted by sambosambo at 1:08 PM on December 13, 2007


In Recompense I hereby demand that they bring Matthowie in to M5 and use his head as their mold for all future Ballistics Gel experiments.

Alternately that can run a contest and pick a random fan's head.
posted by Megafly at 3:28 PM on December 13, 2007


Apparently it's now set to air in January.
posted by Pants! at 4:15 PM on December 13, 2007


January 30th? The last day before the beginning of the all-important-to-the-TV-business February Ratings Sweeps? If I ran the Discovery Channel that episode would air smack dab in the middle of Sweeps. So I wouldn't be surprised if it's further postponsed. The good news is American Idol (which takes television hostage in mid-January) is scheduled for 8PM ET, and the MBs are 9PM... unless Fox, running out of scripted shows due to the Writers' Strike, decides to 'supersize' the Idolatry... you know nobody wants to go on opposite American Idol.

Still, why do I have this nagging fear that Plane on a Conveyor Belt will end up TV's answer to Snakes on a Plane??? (HEY! How about a conveyor belt made of snakes?!?)
posted by wendell at 5:19 PM on December 13, 2007


If I ran the Discovery Channel that episode would air smack dab in the middle of Sweeps.

I dunno. Watching a plane sit stationary on the ground is not really a ratings-grabber.
posted by The Deej at 10:21 AM on December 16, 2007


You obviously never heard of Geraldo's "Al Capone's Vault" show... well promoted, totally disappointing, and the highest-rated non-network special ever. The scheduling screw-up and resultant 'nerd rage' publicity is gonna spike Mythbusters' ratings when it actually airs, whether there's anything worth watching or not.
posted by wendell at 3:49 PM on December 16, 2007


You obviously never heard of Geraldo's "Al Capone's Vault" show

I did! I did! I did! And I watched it! But at least there was the possibility of Old Target-Nose finding something more than an old empty bottle.

Hmmm... so maybe the most exciting part of the upcoming MythBusters show will be when Adam says to Jamie, "Hey look! I found an empty Coke bottle on the runway! That's worth 10 cents in Michigan!"
posted by The Deej at 4:40 PM on December 16, 2007


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