MacGyver Season 4 Episode 12 Science Notes: Loyalty + Family + Rouge + Hellfire

DIY Flail

This is a classic MacGyverism. Mac takes off his jacket and picks up a rock. Then he puts the rock into the jacket such that he can swing the rock around. Yup, it’s a type of flail.

Gas Mask and Stuff

You don’t see all the details of the build, but MacGyver needs to gear up so that he can do some stuff (I don’t want to say exactly what he’s doing). Here are some of the things he builds.

  • LED light with a lens. If you focus the LED light, you can get very high intensity light and temporarily blind people.
  • Some type of balloon with knock out gas. I’m not going to say what he put in the balloons—for obvious reasons.
  • Gas mask with a small scuba tank—it’s actually a “spare air” for scuba emergencies. But this means that his mask will have its own independent air supply.

Fire Suppression System

How do you put out a fire? Well, you need to take away just one of three things (usually):

  • Fuel
  • Air
  • Heat

Most fires are an interaction between carbon and oxygen to produce energy (and other stuff). If you remove the oxygen, you stop the fire. That’s how this fire suppression system works. In the case of the one in the Phoenix building, it uses nitrogen gas to flush out the oxygen.

I suppose now is the appropriate time to point out that normal air is mostly nitrogen anyway—it’s about 79 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen (yes, there’s other stuff in there too). Normally, we breath in the nitrogen and just exhale it. However, if there isn’t enough oxygen in your breath, you pass out. Oh, if there’s too much oxygen—that’s bad too. Humans can breath pure oxygen at atmospheric pressure for quite a while with no negative effects. However, at higher pressures (like with scuba diving) pure oxygen is a bad idea.

The most common method for removing oxygen from a fire is to use halon gas. Halon is denser than air, so it will fall to the floor and push the air (with the oxygen) up away from the fire. But nitrogen should work too.

Chain Defense

MacGyver uses a chain and drops it on the road. The vehicle rolls over it and the chain gets wrapped up in the axle. Seems at least plausible.

Electromagnetic Pulse

The idea of an EMP is to produce a very high intensity burst of electromagnetic waves. An electromagnetic wave consists of oscillating electric and magnetic fields—like a radio signal or visible light. For the EMP, the intensity is so high that the electric field component can cause sparks and shorts in electronic circuits.

EMP devices are real—but they require very high bursts of energy. For the Tesla Sheva weapon, it’s not completely clear how it works. But we don’t have to know everything. That’s what makes it a fictional show (and more fun that way).

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