Experiments

Build and Float A Boat Made Of Ice

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Alaska Special II."
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Finding: PLAUSIBLE

Explanation: In 1942, British inventor Geoffrey Pyke convinced officials his "berg ships" (made from ice and wood pulp) would be the country's best bet for patrolling North Atlantic waters during World War II. But by the time the floating cubes were produced, long-range aircraft were already doing the job, and enthusiasm for the idea melted. Could the concept of an ice boat really hold water?

To find out whether this myth was seaworthy, the MythBusters built a skiff out of newspapers (like the wood pulp, but stronger) that were soaked in water and frozen in a boat-shaped mold. The real test would be determining whether it would stay afloat more than a few seconds.

Turns out, this arctic-friendly cruiser could stay atop the water. And, thanks to a 500-pound outboard motor, the MythBusters even took their motley DIY project through the wet stuff at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. But even though a boat fashioned from yesterday's news and giant ice cubes could indeed be built, powered and captained, the slowly melting material sprung a leak and inevitably sank.

Thanks to staying power similar to sorbet on a summer day, this is one boat that's practical only in the most novel of ways.

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