Thursday, July 03, 2008


In a similarly-themed comic (read the alt-text), Randall Munroe of XKCD recommends this Wikipedia list of problems solved by MacGyver, that TV master of spur-of-the-moment gadgetry. A few of my favorites:

"While being pursued by a Soviet truck, he crushes it by making a large rock fall on it. To do this, MacGyver pours water on a crack on the rock, puts a wedge in it, and sprays the entire thing with a fire extinguisher. The compressed carbon dioxide cools the water enough to freeze it, causing it to expand. This almost entirely breaks the rock away from the mountain, and when the Soviets come by, Mac simply pushes the wedge to crush their car."

"In order to fake a hand print for electronic scanning, MacGyver spreads a thin layer of plaster dust over the scanner. Some of the dust sticks to the sweat left on the scanner by the previous user. He blows away the excess, covers the sensor plate with his jacket, and presses down lightly with his fingers."

"MacGyver creates a rocket-propelled flare out of bamboo, fertilizer, matches, a strip of cloth, a small tin can, a thin metal rod, a funnel, and a wooden spoon. The fertilizer has nitrates, which act as the explosive. He packs the fertilizer in the bottom of the bamboo, then the matches, then the tin can which is itself packed with the cloth with a strip hanging out. He ties the spoon onto the side of the rocket with the metal rod used as a guide within the bamboo tube. The funnel is attached to the top of the rocket, to contain the explosion. The strip of cloth serves as the fuse, and then matches as the igniter. MacGyver sets the entire apparatus in a fireplace, where he lights the fuse and lets the rocket take off."

Some heavy suspension of disbelief is required for a couple of these, which of course adds to the fun:

"MacGyver builds a hot air balloon from scratch to escape from a Soviet search party. The balloon is made of homemade super-glue, old clothes, a parachute, welding equipment, a refrigerator, condoms, and a metal box."

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