Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mythbusters - myth... exaggerated?

Mythbusters just aired an episode that included the myth that a sneeze goes 100 mi/hr and can travel 30 feet. The experimental results: just under 40 mi/hr and a maximum of 17 feet. They called it "busted."

So yes, at a literal level, they got somewhere around 50% of what the myth says, and 50% ain't 100%, so yes. But I think the literal numbers as stated in the myth are much less important than the message of the myth, which is that a sneeze goes faster and further than you probably expect. 17 feet is across a whole room, after all. A waiter sneezing in the corner of a restaurant could conceivably hit every diner in the place.

And this isn't the first time a myth had such a result. So I think I'd call this myth exaggerated rather than busted. I think if a sneeze went 10 mi/hr and only went 5 feet you'd be able to say it's definitely busted. But in this case, I think busted is just too harsh.

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