In case you were watching MythBusters tonight (episode 53), they were investigating rumors that a bunch of farmers in new Zealand had exploding pants.

They didn’t name the herbicide in the episode, but I looked it up–it was sodium chlorate. Indeed, not only did their pants explode, but scholarly documentation of the explosions exists:

The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley’s Exploding Trousers: Reflections on an Aspect of Technological Change in New Zealand Dairy Farming between the World Wars

If you’re like me, you’re the kind of person that wants to know these things :)

Oh, BTW: Way Hot Kari Byron Photos.  (NSFW?)

Other news that may make your pants explode: Rebecca from Skepchick has made the cut again in the Public Radio Challenge!! Congrats Becca!

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Another use of sodium chlorate is as a competitive inhibitor of sulfotransferases. These are enzymes within the Golgi apparatus that add sulfate groups to glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains of proteoglycans. Cells will grow in the presence of chlorate however processes that are dependent upon sulfated GAG chains are blocked. I never realized it was also a herbicide. I also love the fact that it can be connected to Th Mythbusters- one of my very favorite shows. You learn something new everyday.

  2. I suspect the *reason* they didn’t actually mention the name of the compound on MythBusters was SC’s tendency to make a good component for homemade bombs :(

    Or, copycat pants explosions.

  3. That could very well be. They have done that for other episodes where they have messed around with dangerous stuff. The gun cotton they made for the Civil War era rocket comes to mind. One of my all-time favorite episodes.

  4. Phantom Midge July 12, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    This post and the previous one about zukes reminds me of a recent Jasper Fford book I read: The Fourth Bear. Check it out for a fun read!

  5. Oddly enough, putting Kari Byron’s name in the post drove traffic to the site up by 200+ hits.

    Clearly I need to mention her in every single post! :D

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