Update: Following my own advice I went back to TFD to read through the bits I missed before and I found when did computers get boring?. I actually remember doing this in computer stores when I was kid waiting for Dad to do whatever it was Dad's did 20 years ago in computer stores. Ah! Infinite looping text how I miss you.
Fire extinguisher propelled wheelchairs and human guinea pigs testing the effects of an electric fence were both funny and interesting (and raised some interesting questions about what I thought you could get away with on television - I'd love to see the legal waiver the participants had to sign), but what really caught my eye was the test of the reasoning behind not using mobile phones in petrol stations.
This is something I've pondered for a while as I fill up my motor with petrol. Signs everywhere warning me not use my mobile phone on the forecourt, but why? Can they really spark an explosion and if so why don't you every read about this happening in the newspapers? Even the normally informative snopes, despite deciding overall that it is false, is fairly inconclusive on the subject if you read through the whole report.
Anyway the televised experiment, while hardly compehensive, provided some entertaining evidence that the whole thing is rubbish. Take one caravan (always a good start - the potential destruction of a bloody caravan - speaking as an ex-patriot Cornishman caravans are the scourge of the roadways) and fill it with petrol fumes. Add half a dozen mobile phones, retire to a safe distance, and dial.
Unsurprisingly no-one answered the phone, and more satisfyingly no explosion resulted. Urban fact becomes urban myth. Hurrah! Although the scientist in me thinks that just the one test was perhaps not enough. Not good televsion to sit there repeating it though I guess. Of course the only real problem at this point was that the bloody caravan was still in one piece. What else could they test that would lead to it's destruction? Well there's always smoking but that might have been asking too much of the volunteers on the show.
Step forward the nylon shell suit. Yes - bad fashion on the forecourt is dangerous. A cable was trailed into the caravan and another trusty volunteer in nylon clothes jumped around alot before discharging the resulting static onto the bare copper end of the wire. One visible spark later and the caravan was a fireball.
Hurray! We can use our mobiles safely in the petrol station, people wearing shell suits will explode, and the world contains one less caravan. Science is fun. If you see this show is going to be repeated I highly recommend tuning in.
Add the fact that the puzzles you complete are set by other players, you can set your own puzzles, rate the puzzles you play, and you're continually shown your position on the leader table, and it's not long before you are totally sucked in. After an extended period of play I'm still only in the top 8000 players though which suggests I'm not alone in my addiction. *Recommended*