Tonight Star Trek got the Mythbusters experience as the Discovery Channel show took on the Gorn cannon from the original series episode "Arena". See below for a recap and images, plus links to extra video angles of the final result. [spoilers from Mythbusters]
Mythbusters take on the Gorn
Tonight’s episode took on six ‘Mini myths’, including the Gorn cannon. The team did a pretty good (and funny) job or recreating the original scene of Kirk creating the Gorn cannon from "Arena", with Grant Imahara playing Spock and Tory Belleci playing Kirk. In a nod to Ben Burtt, the Mythbusters added a Wilhelm scream to the Gorn when he got pelted with the diamonds.
Grant, Jessi and Tory have some Trek fun
To test the ‘myth’ of the Gorn Cannon, Grant and Tory tried to see if you could mix your own gunpowder by hand bye eyeballing Potassium Nitrate, Charcoal, and Sulfer (they also did some Kirk v Picard debating). And Jessi Combs tested if you could build an actual cannon with bamboo. Eventually, after 33 tries, they found a good mix of gunpowder and a bored out piece of bamboo (although power tools were used for that). However, in the end (and testing with a real cannon) the hand mixed version of gunpowder was not explosive enough, it would only fizzle.
Hand-mixed gunpowder just smokes and fizzles
To test the cannon itself, the team loaded the one that Jessi made with real gunpowder and fired it up. However, the bamboo was not able to withstand the explosion. Plus their crash test dummy Buster, who stood in for Kirk, wearing a red shirt, was pretty messed up by the explosion.
Cannon made from bamboo couldn’t handle the real gunpowder
But, in Mythbusters tradition, they modified the cannon by reinforcing with wood and metal and sealing it with polyurethane. After that they filled it with real gunpowder and quartz crystals and successfully pelted the Gorn. However, the bamboo cannon still exploded, ‘killing’ Captain Kirk again.
The team count the hits from their modified cannon
However, due to the fact that they had to cheat to get the result, the final determination was that the ‘myth’ was ‘Busted.’ Tory made the summery:
As sad as I am to say, since this is my favorite episode of Star Trek, this one is busted. You cannot make home-made black powder strong enough to launch the projectiles, and even if you could, the bamboo would not be strong enough to contain the explosion.
There are six videos showing different angles of the Gorn Cannon myth at discovery.com.