As someone who is almost-but not completely-science illiterate, I’ve always been a fan of anyone who can make science interactive, fun and easy to understand. Maybe that’s why I immediately gravitated towards the Mythbusters and became an instant-and ardent-fan.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show run by Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, two special effects artists, it’s a show that attempts to put all sorts of urban myths-and the science behind them-to the test. One of my favorite episodes dealt with the myth that an incapacitated hot water heater can turn into a rocket and blast clean through a two-storey house.
After ten years of crazy explosions, competitions and hilarious results in debunking popular myths, Jamie and Adam decided to take the show on the road for the second time, only with some notable differences.
The first time was technically a lecture circuit style tour with Adam and Jamie explaining their backgrounds in special effects and how they came to create the show.
This time, it was a more interactive show with volunteers being called up from the audience to showcase how myths worked. There was still time for two separate Q&A sections where Adam and Jamie answered questions from the audience on the show, their partnership dynamic and even why there wasn’t an appearance from Mythbusters’ other three members, Kari, Grant & Tory.
The show started off with two volunteers trying their hands at the high striker game, with the young boy holding the standard sized hammer and the man holding a mini hammer. The boy won that particular strength contest by hitting the bell, while the man was able to get halfway up the meter with the mini hammer, to which Adam remarked that they had a gentleman hit the bell using the mini hammer in the afternoon show, after which everyone on stage made sure to give HIM a wide berth.
Next, Adam laid down on a bed of nails, placed a cinder block on his chest and proceeded to explain why Jamie taking a sledgehammer to the cinder block wouldn’t actually hurt him. Apparently, when Jamie hit the cinderblock and it shattered, the bulk of the energy scattered laterally rather than as a downward force on Adam’s torso. The nails and the hammer didn’t give Adam a scratch.
Afterwards, Adam and Jamie conducted an experiment that saw two audience members pedal frantically on bikes to cause water to run through a network of pipes and fill a balloon over their heads with water and whoever pedaled the hardest caused the balloon to fall on the other person’s head.
The Q&A sections with both Adam & Jamie were both fairly tame. The audience asked questions about things like what was the scariest myth they’d ever done as well as how Adam and Jamie came to work together on Mythbusters. There was a more controversial moment when someone asked Jamie about the recent infamous cannon ball story where an errant cannon ball at the Alameda Sheriff Country bomb range ended up smashing through a nearby home as well as their car. A few audience members laughed, but it was clear to Jamie that they took such an accident very seriously and that it was no laughing matter. The team would take extra precautions to make sure that nothing like the accident would ever happen again.
Two out of three of my favorite experiments in the show came on either side of the intermission. The first one that came before the intermission, featured two people being outfitted with headphone style ear muff protection and strange glasses designed to alter one’s perceptions of what they were viewing and they were made to walk through an obstacle course. Adam warned the volunteers not to look through the glasses with both eyes or risk vomiting. The first man was able to walk through the maze without any problems and deliver the items on a tray to Adam and Jamie, or who he thought was Adam and Jamie. Adam and Jamie played tricks on the volunteers by changing the orientation of the obstacle course, making the chairs and other items larger or smaller and having two pre-selected kids from the audience pose as Adam and Jamie, complete with very realistic facial masks. The second contestant was confused by a lot of the changes to the obstacle course and she also mistakenly thought that the two kids were Adam and Jamie. It was a riot.
My second favorite was when Adam and Jamie had one volunteer put on a full suit of metal armor, reminiscent of medieval Europe and proceed to line up with the rest of their production team, holding paintball guns and shoot the guy with paintballs when his back was to the audience. Seeing all those paintballs splatter against the pane of glass the boys had set up and the aftermath of all the paint on the guy’s armor was hilarious. According to Adam, the only way to protect yourself from paintballs IS to wear a full suit of armor.
Adam & Jamie also had several volunteers come up on stage and do some simple facial expressions and movements like blowing out a breath. All the movements were captured on high speed camera and resulting videos had me laughing so hard I almost fell out of my seat. That was probably the biggest highlight of the show and definitely on my list of favorites.
The boys ended the night with a faux explosion that somehow left the volunteer from the audience with tattered clothing where his orange jumpsuit used to be.
Overall, it was a great show. And as an avid Mythbusters fan, I can’t think of a better show to go and see. I hope that their next show, which is the touring exhibit, will make a stop at Science World!