Mythbustin' the Moon Hoax: Part 4

By Phil Plait | August 6, 2008 9:32 pm

I just got a note from someone working on promotion for the Discovery Channel: The Mythbusters Moon Hoax episode has a clip online at YouTube!

Awesommmmmmme! I really wish I could have been there to watch them film this. As it was, I (as well as NASA experts) talked to them at length about the composition of the lunar regolith; it’s not just dust, but particulate matter that is basically ground up lunar rocks. Micrometeorite impacts and "weathering" (disintegration caused by thermal extremes between day and night) pulverize the rock. Through a microscope it’s jagged and nasty looking, giving it unusual properties that Adam and Jamie had to duplicate. I still don’t know how they did it, so I’ll have to wait for the episode to air (August 27) to find out.

Adam and Jamie from the Mythbusters with an Apollo lunar lander model

And Adam, if you’re reading this: I will give you a million bajillion dollars for your lander model!

Previous Mythbustin’ the Moon Hoax posts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


Comments (71)

  1. IBY

    That is cool! Especially the module’s model. Unfortunately, the video said “the video has been removed” and still showed it, but in a really dark version of it.

  2. Ben Grogan

    Interesting thing about the rocks, if it was a hoax, think about all that work creating that microscopic moon dust.

    I hope Jamie and Adam spent some time creating a few tons of it by hand to show how the “soundstage” was created!

  3. aaaaaaahhh!! I can’t wait for this episode. This is the best show on TV.

  4. Tommy

    Pleas post the episode on youtube on your blog!

  5. Tommy

    IBY the video is working fine for me. Try to refresh your page.

  6. IBY

    I already tried that, but what the heck! It is happening to other youtube videos!

  7. IBY

    The embedded ones, I mean.

  8. kino

    Do they post their shows online anywhere, or is there a place to get them? I don’t subscribe to cable nor access broadcast tv for various reasons so…. can’t watch it otherwise.

  9. OMFSMyay! New episodes! I’m so excited about the Moon Hoax one, too. Too bad it will be three more weeks. That lander is superawesomehappyfuntime. :O Adam is just fantastic at building things like that.

  10. Can’t they just bounce lasers off the reflectors on the moon and call it a day? I mean I love Mythbusters and all.

  11. Of course, being in Canada, we’re special, and won’t get to see it til whenever. I just checked Discovery Canada’s schedule, and it’s nowhere to be found :(

  12. Thomas Siefert

    I will give you a million bajillion dollars for your lander model!

    Oh yeah… Adam, I’ll give you a million bajillion and one dollars!

  13. A million bajillion and TWO dollars!

    And I’ll repeat my response to Part 3: I REALLY hope this ends up online for those of us with basic cable.

  14. Adrian Lopez

    Jagged particles you say. Hmm…

    I’ve sometimes wondered what it would feel like to bury your fingers into a mound of regolith and play with it as if it were sand. All this time I’ve imagined it would feel like very fine sand, but perhaps it would feel more like playing with ground up glass (ouch!)?

  15. madge

    I have listened to you guys bigging up this series for A LONG TIME and now I am even more fed up that I live on the wrong side of the pond to get this show. It looks awesome :)

  16. madge

    A million bajillion and THREE dollars (that’s about £2.50 right?)

  17. Adrian Lopez

    Does this bidding thing work at all like on the Price is Right? If so, I bid one dollar.

  18. Togan

    @john: They could do that, but then the Moon Hoax people would simply claim that the reflector was brought there by an unmanned probe (their usual strategy), or that scientists are faking it since they are all in line with the ebil guvament.

    P.S.: I bid a whole EUR 10 (yes, real European money that’s actually worth something :P), shipping included!

  19. ad

    For the tv challehnged:

  20. I have got one euro, can I get anything? Wonderfull model!!

  21. Michelle


    …Bajillion… is that even a number?

  22. MattGS

    Oh, this will be great. I love those guys. And I wish I could buy the show on DVD. Come on, this is a show totally worth collecting on DVD!

  23. Tom

    >>A million bajillion and THREE dollars (that’s about £2.50 right?)

    Only in Zimbabwe.

  24. MattGS

    PS: Sorry, of course I meant DVD outside of Region 1. They are region coded, aren’t they? Does anyone know?

  25. Pouria

    Finally! I hope they nail it and show the world that the moon landings were a hoax!

  26. Rebel Dreams

    Oh, they’ll nail it all right. They’ll prove the hoax “theories” are nothing but windbaggery and non-science. They’ll knock it out of the park. And the hoax-philes will continue to whine that it proved nothing and then claim that Adam and Jamie are in on it too.

    You now, plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose….

  27. Donnie B.

    I’d pay a few real dollars (non-Zimbabwean) for the plans for that lander model. It would be more fun to build my own copy than to empty my bank account for Adam’s.

  28. GeorgeH

    If I were trying to simulate lunar regolith, I’d probably start with something hard, like quartz, and grind it into small particulates.


  29. Brian Gefrich

    Donnie B is speaking my language.

  30. Joe Meils

    I’m not sure, but I think you can find such plans (or at least scale views of the real LEM) online. Hell, if I could find the plans to build a studio scale “Botony Bay”, the real LEM should be a snap!

    (I wonder what the largest, commercially available, kit would be?)

  31. >> A million bajillion and THREE dollars (that’s about £2.50 right?)

    I’ll call your bid and raise you one hojillion dollars! A whole hojillion.

  32. Trebuchet

    But is that an American bajillion (1000 kazillion) or a European bajillion (a kazillion kazillion)?

    I can’t wait for the show but agree it has no chance of convincing the hardcore HB’s. Theirs is a religious sort of faith. But it may have a very positive effect on the fence sitters.

  33. Tony

    I am really looking forward to the show, but it is not going to change the mind of even one reality-denying moon hoax believer. They’ll just accuse Jamie and Adam as being part of it, or that NASA approached Jamie and Adam and offered them gobs and gobs of money to make this episode. Afterall, NASA has so much money to spend.

  34. Trebuchet:
    But is that an American bajillion (1000 kazillion) or a European bajillion (a kazillion kazillion)?Neither. It’s “Bajillion Dollars”, as in money from Bajillia. Fortunately for us, Bajillia has had runaway inflation for a while now, so a Bajillion Dollar is worth even less than the Elbonian Dollar.

    Currently, one million Bajillion Dollars is worth about 7.95USD.

  35. MattGS

    No, it won’t change the minds of the hardcore crowd – they already believe Adam and Jamie are “insiders”. And so is Phil. Ask Hoagland and Bara (or read their book, if you dare).

    But there are a lot of people who simply heard arguments that sounded reasonable at first (the radiation belt, the seemingly wrong shadows, the “flapping” flag …) and who became skeptics in their own way. They don’t mean anything bad, they are simply misinformed. This show is for those people, not for the hardcore believers. Nothing can change them, I’m afraid.

  36. Brian T.

    As for simulating lunar soil, maybe volcanic pumice would be the way to go. On the microscopic level it’s basically spun glass with tons of air bubbles mixed in, but if you ground it up (not too fine, though) it would still be very abrasive, and probably the right overall consistency.

  37. My guess is that the hoaxers will say that this episode shows how in fact the moon hoax was actually done — with a few items left out of course. Once one enters into their closed world mind set, it is impossible to escape.

    I have watched MythBusters on and off for some time and while I believe this will be a tremendously entertaining and educational experience, it really won’t change anything. The hoaxers will believe what they want to, have to, believe because otherwise their whole world view would collapse. They really have made this fantasy of faked moon landings part of their lives, their very identity and people simply do not give such things up. Not in the face of science, evidence, and reason anyway. Oh well.

  38. hambr

    Anyone else see the awesome eclipse photo on APOD? Got me thinking about how incredible it is that the moon and sun are almost exactly the same size when viewed from earth. Heck of a coincidence.

  39. And Adam, if you’re reading this: I will give you a million bajillion dollars for your lander model!

    Maybe you could trade it for a Maltese Falcon?

  40. MattGS


    Coincidence? HA! How very naive of you. Read “Who Built The Moon” by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler. That book makes Hoagland actually sound plausible in comparison …

  41. Thomas Siefert

    @ MattGS:

    The only place where the full seasons of Mythbusters are released on DVD are in Australia which is region 4. All other regions are just selected episodes sometimes with bits missing.
    As mentioned Australia is region 4, PAL TV system, occasionally the discs are encoded for other regions as well. Maybe there’s an Aussie with a Mythbuster DVD who can check on his computer which regions it has been encoded with?

  42. Thomas Siefert

    @ MattGS:

    Oops, submitted too soon.

    You could get a multi region DVD player, it’s a good excuse to upgrade.

  43. Tom

    Sweet LM model!
    I bet I’m geekier than any of you, I have a 4 foot long Saturn V hanging above my couch in my living room.
    I’m looking forward to this episode, I’m all ready to fire up my MythTV box and record this. Coool!


  44. MattGS

    @Thomas Siefert:

    I used to have a multi region DVD player, but I sold it on eBay since my living room is a bit overstuffed with electronics and I never had the need to play a non-RC2 DVD in about 8 years. Lesson learned. No piece of electronics is ever obsolete.

  45. Detatched Observer

    Say, that is a really nice lunar lander model. Remember the episode where they were doing Jaws myths, and they got a hold of the ACTUAL scuba tanks and floats used in the movie through some of their contacts? Hmmm, just wondering what sound stage that model came from…

  46. Thomas Siefert

    @ MattGS:
    No piece of electronics is ever obsolete.

    In my experience all electronics are obsolete the second you buy them. :-(

  47. Thomas Siefert

    I raise my bid for the LM to ∞ Ridicujilion Dollars.

  48. Quiet Desperation

    And Adam, if you’re reading this: I will give you a million bajillion dollars for your lander model!

    Be a man! Build your own!

  49. amphiox

    Of course the true believers won’t be moved. The definition of delusion is “fixed false belief.”

    This show isn’t for them. They are lost. A limb withered from the tree. We may cut them off and ignore them.

  50. Blondin

    I have a friend who’s been making various models out of soda cans for years. He does some pretty amazing things (with wheels & props & all kinds of moving parts). I’ll challenge him to make a lunar lander next time I see him.

  51. ND

    Loonar lander? I’d like to see him make the lunar rover! remote control even! with freaking lasers :) I think it was unconscionable for NASA to send astronauts to the moon without weapons to defend themselves. You never know what they would have encountered.

  52. ND


    oops, I thought you were talking about Adam. A rover would still be cool tho.

  53. I really wish that Mythbusters would get people like Phil as guests on their show. I think that would be really great for the skeptical community.

  54. Yoshi_3up

    August 27?! I just watched it last night in Argentina.

  55. Joe Meils

    (holds up shotgun) “Madam, the chances of bagging an elephant.. on the moon… are remote.” -Prof. Cavor “First Men in the Moon”

  56. MPG

    If you want a LEM model for the cost of a few sheets of thin card, there’s an awesome 1:48 scale papercraft kit that can be downloaded and printed here:

  57. Gemini

    I think an upscale version of that kit was actually used in the clip.

  58. themadlolscientist

    @ IBY: Worked for me just now.

    @ Michelle: I think it’s the one just after skabillion and after gazillion. But I might have gotten that backwards. My tribe can only count “1, 2, 3, Infinity.” Kazillion? Kazillion kazillion? WTF? Hozillion? She’d better be damned good! 😉

    Oh, BTW, they’re all waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than a googol.

    # MattGS Says:

    No piece of electronics is ever obsolete.

    You sure got that right. A lot of the early pro digital sound recording engineers used to record onto beta. (Just shows to go ya how much better beta is/was than VHS lolololol.) Around 1995, my former SO found a beta deck for dirt-cheap at a used electronics store, and we recorded stuff on that for the next 5 years until someone burgled the place and walked off with it.

    @ ND: LAZ0RZ! w000000000+!

    @ Brian W.: During the first season or two, they had a regular guest interviewee (a folklore expert IIRC). Maybe we should start spamming their mailbox, demanding some face time for BA!

    @ Yoshi_3up: Don’t rub it in, dude!

  59. themadlolscientist

    WOT? You’re moderating things now? Is this censorship I smell? :-)

  60. Wendy

    I absolutely CANNOT wait for this episode!! Hopefully it’ll finally shut all those conspiracy theorists up. (A girl can dream, can’t she?)

  61. Fernando

    I´m from Argentina (Latin America) and I saw the episode. All the debunkers would knew the outcome of the experiences. in the end it has a small extra: LLR. I think the hoax believers would think the Mythbusters are involved in the ¨conspiracy¨, absurd. Good point the non-parallel shadows formed in the surface and the waving flag.

  62. Fernando: la verdad que si esto no calla a los “defensores de la conspiración” , ya no sé que los va a callar.

    Wendy: I can bet you that pwns the CT arguments one by one.

    Too bad that Phil’s name only appears very briefly in the last frame of the credits :( but I surely got trilled when I saw “DR PHIL PLAIT” in the end.

    (One thing I catched is, that if “two light sources” are needed to get non-parallel shadows, there should be two different shadows 😉 )

  63. Side note: I do find quite funny how the Adam latin dub says “defensores de la conspiración” (Conspiracy defenders, on a literal translation). I dunno why, but it makes me giggle a bit.

  64. Tom Pain

    Re: Flapping Flag Flap. Watched a Nat. Geo. TV special on the Hubble last night,(pretty well done!) and they had video of the marathon repair session that fixed it’s vision. They were forced to jettison the old solar panels. As they receded you could see them merrily flapping away in the near vacuum of earth orbit. Oh, but I guess that was faked, too!
    I can hardly wait for the Moon landing episode. The recent episodes have weak at best, lame at worst. They need to stop getting their myths from viewers, 12-year olds who want to see explosions, or 30 year olds, living in their mom’s basement living on Cheeto’s and diet soda.

  65. Another Eric

    Face it everybody, I’m sure they won’t sell that lander model for anything less than a GODZILLION dollars!

  66. Fernando

    I remember that about HST solar wing. It was described in the fifth When we left Earth episode by the astronauts as a prehistoric bird. I think the HB want to counterattack with the LM descent engine leaving no crater, no stars in the sky or the lost crosshairs in some photos,the reflections in Buzz´s helmet or the ¨invisible¨ LM descent engine flame. Throughout the episode they showed the reversed Intrepid LM several times as it appeared in the episode trailer.

  67. Man o Man Phil, I am so looking forward to this episode. I’ll be taping it and using it for the entire second semester of my astro course at DV. We will go through it frame by frame and extract every last iota of moon-mythbustin goodness from it. Woohoo!

  68. The Mythbusters should do this for all the other conspiracy theories as well. I hope they tackle that “chemtrail” nonsense. 😀


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