Hurricane Winds Blow Straw Through Tree

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Deadly Straw"

Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: In 1999, the swiftest wind on record swept through Oklahoma City at 318 mph. When tropical storms roll onto land with similarly terrifying wind speeds, palm trees receive a particularly brutal beating. The coconut-bearing plants are more structurally susceptible to wind damage because their tropical trunks consist of permeable bundles of plant fibers.

For this reason, a theory exists that suggests a raging storm wind could blow a simple piece of straw with enough intensity to send it straight through a palm trunk.

MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman built a specialized air-powered straw gun to take aim at the blustery myth. But straw won't fly like a bullet with air pressure alone, so the MythBusters built the air gun with an enormous 80-foot-long barrel to provide enough momentum to send the straw into rocket mode.

With their windy weapon pointed squarely at a palm tree trunk, the MythBusters fired a piece of straw traveling 320 mph at the arboreal target. Although the speedy straw penetrated the palm about a quarter of an inch, it failed to make it through to the other side.

A hardy piece of reed couldn't cut through the tropical trunk either, blowing a hole in the busted myth.

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