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TV show has long way to go to catch bank robbers

Colleen Loggins

Have you ever seen the show “Smash Lab” on the Discovery Channel? If you haven’t, you’re lucky. If you have, I’m sorry. It is possibly the dumbest show I have seen in a long time.

If you are not familiar with the show, according to the Discovery Channel Web site, it features a team of “maverick engineers as they take on everyday technology and apply it in revolutionary new ways.”

The show I saw the other night featured the “maverick team” taking on bank robbers.

Their idea? Why, to use aerated sand to stop the heist team in their tracks, of course! Basically, they figured if they filled a deep pit with sand and used air pressure to make the sand less compact, they could cause a thief to fall through to the bottom. They would turn off the air pressure, thus, trapping the thief in the sand.

Not only did they want to catch the thief who was running away on foot, they wanted to catch the guy in the getaway van. To do so, they used the same method with a bigger sand pit. Does it sound immensely complex? Well, it is.

The first problem was that they couldn’t get an actual bank to agree to let them test the experiment, which is understandable. Therefore, they had to set up a fake bank in the middle of the desert. So the pits they created were easily dug into the ground. If they were to try to implement this at a real bank, they would have to first destroy the concrete already in place and then put in the “system.”

The second problem occurred when they figured out they would need a ridiculous amount of sand and air pressure for the scheme to work. It would take more than 100 tons of sand, and just the sand alone was going to cost them more than 3,000 dollars.

Then they realized they needed many giant compressed air tanks to actually get enough air pressure to aerate the sand. We don’t know how much those cost, but I imagine it isn’t cheap, and I’m pretty sure they ended up with around eight or so at the end.

Keeping the pipes delivering the air in the pits seemed to be problematic as well because the intense air pressure kept lifting them up through the sand.

They also realized they would need bricks to lay on top of the sand to create a surface for the bank robber (played by one of their own) and the getaway driver (a professional stunt man) to run/drive on.

The problem wasn’t the bricks sinking through the sand but the actual look of the whole thing. How many bank robbers are going to see random strips of brick laid out and choose to run/drive over those?

None after figuring out what the bank was doing. And how many banks have just one way in and out? Oddly enough, they didn’t address these problems.

They also didn’t seem to think sand erosion would be problematic in real life, and they didn’t specify who would be pushing the button to aerate the sand.

Come to think of it, they didn’t even say if there even would be a button. I’m pretty sure they just turned a wrench to let out the air. Needless to say, it is hard to turn a wrench quickly, and perhaps too much time would pass and the robbers would escape.

Yet, they seemed to think the project was a success and were serious about banks implementing the ingenious sand trap.

These people are not real scientists. Even I saw all of the flaws in their design, and I am not remotely good at science or engineering.

Colleen is a junior in Communications and thinks maybe you should watch “Smash Lab” because like most reality shows, it can be quite amusing to make fun of. She can be reached at [email protected]

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