The one fundamental law of the universe remains true – if something happens, MythBusters or The Simpsons foresaw it. With the recent catastrophic implosion of the Titan submersible while hunting the Titanic, a MythBusters clip of them testing out what implosion actually looks like has resurfaced and it’s pretty dramatic.
The MythBusters team looked to simulate an implosion that had apparently occurred with a train tanker car. Made of 1.27-centimeter (0.5-inch) thick steel, the tanker had a fantastic safety record until one fateful day.
Supposedly, the tanker had been steam-cleaned both inside and out, creating a boiling environment inside the container. The mistake was sealing it in this state, creating a high pressure within the sealed tanker with nowhere to escape. Once this cooled, the inside pressure dropped as there was no longer hot steam pushing outwards, creating a huge pressure differential with the outside air.
During the episode, the initial tests fail as it appears that the structure was strong enough to withstand the pressure.
However, the dejected Mythbusters create a dent in the steel, weakening the structure. They then introduce a vacuum pump to further lower the pressure inside. After a tense wait, the tanker finally fails.
Crushing inwards in the blink of an eye, the tanker suffers a catastrophic structural failure, reducing it to a crushed can.
While it may look dramatic, note that the difference in pressure for this tanker is just one atmosphere - for the Titan submersible, the pressure was around 375-400 atmospheres. At these pressures, the implosion would have been significantly faster and more destructive, likely fragmenting the entire submersible in just a fraction of a second.