Myth Physics

What do the following myths have in common?

• Running is better than walking to keep dry in the rain.

• A standard CD-ROM drive can shatter a CD.

• A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building can kill a person or penetrate the ground.

• Frozen chickens cause more damage than thawed chickens when shot at a plane's windshield.


They all use a lot of physics! It's no accident that many of the beliefs people have about how the world works is directly related to physics. As a branch of science, physics is the one that people are most in touch with during their day-to-day lives.

And it is no coincidence that the television show Mythbusters, during its time on the air, was one of the most popular science shows on television!

I would often watch the show and eagerly look forward to the myths being tested. After I began watching it, it soon became obvious that the myths usually involve physics of some sort, especially classical mechanics in which there's motion and forces involved (such as when blowing things up). It also became obvious that the physics explanations given on the show don't go very deep. This is understandable since the show is aimed at a general audience. But you would think there must be a comprehensive resource out there which covers the physics of Mythbusters in some detail. Well if there is I can't find it! So I figured why not create my own. It would fit well with the theme of this website.

So that's what I did. I created a free 48 page ebook, in PDF format, providing a physics discussion and analysis of many myths that are tested on the show, which are actually myths taken from everyday life. The level of analysis is high school physics, for both introductory and advanced topics. The advanced topics are equivalent to those covered in first and (maybe) second year college & university physics courses. So basically, some of the material is simple and some is harder. But it's all fun! At least in my humble opinion :)

So check it out. It's a great resource for physics teachers, students, and for anyone else curious about the physics of different myths!

Click here to download the ebook



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