Needle in Haystack

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Exploding House"


Explanation: We've known since the 1500s, when the saying originated, that finding a needle in a haystack is about as easy as catching a greased pig or locating a drop of water in the ocean. For that reason, MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage didn't rely on keen eyesight alone to find out whether the saying amounts to a hill of beans.

Instead, Jamie and Adam brought in some modern technology and split up into two needle-hunting teams to each comb through 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) of hay in search of three metallic needles and one bone needle.

Jamie's team rigged up a magnetic hay conveyor belt designed to attract the metallic needles. The conveyor belt then delivered the hay to a furnace, incinerating the straw and leaving any remaining needles behind. Adam's team built a sifting table that saturated the hay with water to separate the individual strands and, with luck, unearth the needles.

After more than six hours of picking through the bales of hay, Adam's team emerged victorious. But the myth was still busted: With both teams bleary-eyed from nitpicking for needles, the age-old saying was the real winner in the hay-bale showdown.

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