“Mythbusters” saves lives!

No, really!

Julian Shaw, the 14-year-old punk rocker who used what he had learned from TV series MythBusters to save a 54-year-old from a freight train, is being honoured as a hero by producers of the television science program.

Article here. Posted by my buddy Richard Saunders on Facebook.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Heh, that's awesome!

    Mythbusters also saves the lives of people who would otherwise bash their heads in having to watch all the UFO documentaries on the History Channel :)

  2. From memory the program found there wasnt a suction effect, only the possibility of winds which might knock over a standing person _away_ from the train, and they were already lying on the ground. Also it was a freight train, so going pretty slow (I live there), and the wind effects would have been negligible.

    Nice story otherwise, but I dont think he got the Mythbuster program quite right.

  3. If I recall that episode correctly, what they essentially found was that the train generated a parallel wind, going in the same direction as the train. So even under the platform (especially under the platform, where you'd essentially get a tunnel), you would probably get some form of suction alongside the train.

    Of course, he probably knew from mythbusters that there was no risk of being sucked under the train, so he just had to hang on to prevent himself from being sucked alongside the train.

  4. "[As the train roared past] the noise pierced your ears and there was a suction that pulled us in," Julian told yesterday.

    He clearly thought there was a suction effect, 'pulling him in' unless its a misquote.

    Program findings:

    "The team travels to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they set up Ted, a small stroller, and Grant’s anemometer along the tracks. The stroller will serve as a demonstration of the forces at work when a train passes at high speed. The train speeds up to 79 m.p.h. and flies past the station, tipping Ted over and sending the stroller flying parallel to the train towards the other end of the station. However, the results seem to be caused not by suction, but by the horizontal rush of air. A second test is conducted, this time with the rear end of the train leading, but Ted is left standing, while the stroller is shot off of the platform. Grant’s instruments reveal that on the first test, the winds parallel to the train hit 50 m.p.h., but the second test only reached 26.8 m.p.h. In a third test, Ted is knocked over again, but it seems that any air pocket created behind the train is offset by the wake created by the train passing the platform."

    Its just a wind and not particularly powerful compared to the speed of the train and as you say its horizontal or away from the train, not a 'suction' effect. Trains go through Melbourne stations and you can stand a matter of inches away from them. Anyone doing that will know how negligible the wind effects are at the normal train speeds we see here.

    Under the platform might be an issue I guess, but Im pretty dubious. I suspect this was more about psychological effects than anything else, it must have been pretty scary after all.


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