• May 6th 2010 at 3:00PM
  • 74
Hyundais Daewoos sacrificed in the name of science – Click above to watch the videos after the break

In between repeated bouts to literally knock your socks off (well, not yours exactly, but you get the idea, right?) last night, the Mythbusters crew decided to revisit an old myth that was drawing the ire of the show's fans for quite some time. And it's sure to be an interesting topic to automotive enthusiasts.

When two cars collide, each traveling 50 miles per hour, does the resulting force equal one car hitting an immovable object at 100 miles per hour?

It seems like such simple physics, no? But don't forget Newton's third law. To quote the great Wikipedia of knowledge, "Whenever a first body exerts a force F on a second body, the second body exerts a force −F on the first body. F and −F are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction." Or, more simply, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Great, thanks for that, Einstein Newton. What does that have to do with crashing cars? Glad you asked. Find out in the videos pasted after the break. Warning: A large number of Hyundais Daewoos were harmed during these videos. Oh, and the results of the crash testing may surprise you.

[Source: Mythbusters]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      What does this have to do with the third law?

      Double the mass, double the momentum, keep contact time constant, and you get the same force applied.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It can probably be traced to the third law in a sequence of steps (or at least involve the third law in the explaiantion), but it indeed has nothing to do with the third law directly. They keep chanting the third law as a mantra, as if it somehow explains something, while in fact it doesn't.

        The fact that "50 mph in the wall" damage is equal to "two cars at 50mph" damage follows from the simple fact that in both cases from each car's point of view the same initial speed (50 mph) drops to the same final speed (0 mph) in the same amount of time. The amount of energy dissipated is the same, and it is dissipate at the same rate = the same amount of damage. Period.

        Trying to claim that just uttering the third law somehow explains the situation is totally bogus.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a great example of what I hate about mythbusters. The science is good and the experiments are exciting, but they explain things poorly to create 'myths' where there shouldn't be.

      Jamie is mostly correct. Two vehicles of equal mass crashing into each other at velocity X will have twice the force of a single vehicle crashing into a solid object at velocity X. The difference is that the force is evenly distributed between the two vehicles, giving each the damage of a single impact at velocity X.

      Crashing a single vehicle into a solid object at 2X velocity will show far more damage because all of the force was exerted on a single vehicle. They could have explained the logic behind this and still performed the experiments to prove their point, but instead the word it poorly so the whole thing appears to be some grand mystery until we've seen the results. It's terribly irritating.

      They did the same thing while trying to 'prove' that an airplane could take off from a treadmill. In the illustrations and explanations they showed the airplane as remaining stationary. In the experiments the airplane accelerated until it had enough lift to fly away normally, so they declared the myth busted. There was no real myth in the first place, just a poor explanation of what they were attempting to do.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Autoblog, I am disappoint.

      Calling Daewoos, a Hyundai.

      Sad sad sad.
      • 5 Years Ago
      love how they consider simple physics a "myth"..
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think it's fine. If you already know physics, you might be annoyed by the pedantic presentation, but most people don't take a real physics course. For them, maybe it's enough to make them think about the problem and learn something.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think simple physics would be more something like 'ball falling in a vacuum with zero rotation.'
      • 5 Years Ago
      i saw this last night and was definitely thinking "i bet this will show up on autoblog."
        • 5 Years Ago
        at 2:45~3:16 (video 1) it says you could get hammer to swing twice as fast by raise it twice as high (or so it appears to be twice as high at 3:16). this is a fundamental error...

        to get hammer go twice as fast, you need to raise 4 time higher.
        mgh=0.5*mV^2, if V is replaced by 2V, your h will be 4h.

        i really hope this is just a display error, not what they really did.. because this is elementary school stuff.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I never saw any formulas like that in elementary school.
      • 5 Years Ago
      4 Less Daewoos to Clog up the roads now!
      • 5 Years Ago
      What V8s were they using? They looked a bit like a GM BB to me..

      And the morale of the story is:
      If you are out of control in your car, swerve to the other lane; it's safer!
      • 5 Years Ago
      At least they only used Daewoos. No one's going to miss them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        and nothing of value was lost
        • 5 Years Ago
        It would have been much cooler if they had imported some Peugeot 309s to match the animated graphics
      • 5 Years Ago
      They were Daewoo's smart guy....
        • 5 Years Ago
        Best way to use a few Daewoos. Ever.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most shocking thing I learned: A Daewoo Nubria weighs 3000 lbs!
      • 5 Years Ago

      I was hoping that in the end truth comes out.... Thats way you need to love BBC more than NBC. At least they are mostly correct.

      1) the key was that G meter was in the back of the car. If you look videos between 1st and 2nd crash and time peak G you see different times.

      2) most of the cars absorb energy. and most of energy went to bent steel. Kinetic energy was equal between 100mph and 2x50mph crash. But on the second crash there was more steel to bend.

      I enjoyed the show. What I didnt enjoy was educational point in the end!!! I woulnt like to be physics teacher in the american high school where students are taking their math from mythbusters.

      Im amazed how american culture is going more like africa.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Update the post already, those are daewoo nubira II, at least in europe :))
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yea, that's definitely a Buick Excelle/Buick Excelle HRV/Chevrolet Lacetti/Chevrolet Nubira/Chevrolet Optra/Chevrolet SRV/Daewoo Nubira (J200)/Holden Viva/Suzuki Forenza/Suzuki Reno...

      Gotta love GM badge engineering!
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