The Real World ... Blogger Style: Science for Jonnie

Monday, July 18, 2005

Science for Jonnie

Two very Rebel Leady myths to prove or disprove tonight on Mythbusters. One involved massive explosions (using 850lbs of commercial blasting agents) to blast the inside of a concrete truck (to remove concrete residue and concrete that has set in the mixer) and the other involved salsa. Knowing Jonnies love of mexican, lets have alook at this one.


Can someone break out of a jail cell by eating through the iron bars using salsa?

Background information
In 1996 one Juan Lopez escaped a mexican jail by coroding the bars on his windows using the salsa provided with dinner. Apparently it took 6 years to eat through the metal bars.


Build a mexican prison using concrete bricks and mortar.

Make the bars for the windows using five different types of iron bars (cold pressed, hot pressed, rolled.. whatever)

Buy various types of salsa

Determine what elements in the salsa could be corrosive, acidity, water and salinity.

A number of control situations were set up, acids and saline solutions.

Salsa verde, extra picante salsa and canned varieties are put around the bars.

Adam decides to try something different, he figures that Juan may have used electricty to corode the bars. He explains that any saline solution (the salsa) will act as a conduit for electricity. The electricity will increase the corrosive properties of the salsa. Using the wires from a light he heats the salsa surrounding the bars. The salsa heats up, steams and sizzles, the whole "jail" smells like spicy salsa.

Jaimi has been watching the electricity tests and has an idea, using the DC transformer from inside a small radio he heats up the salsa on another bar. He explains that adam is using and AC current which will work both ways - it will corode the metal but also put it back on however DC currents should strip the metal because of the negative ions. He concludes that the other guy (adam) is simply cooking salsa


1 month later the salsa is still cooking, Adam with his light fixture AC currents and Jaimi with his DC radio currents, Jaimi has coroded half way through the bar, Adams bar has actually INCREASED in girth.

After four months Adam has given up, Jaimi's salsa has all but chewed through the metal bar, only a whisker of iron is left.

The salsa has corroded more iron than the acid and saline controls.

The myth is deemed plausible.