February 22, 2014 2:47 pm

“Science isn’t just for guys in lab coats” – from MythBusters (Part 2) this Sunday night

Mythbusters on StarTalk

Photo Credit: Leslie Mullen

If you liked Part 1 of Neil’s interview with the MythBusters, then you are in for a treat, because I think Part 2 is even better.

I got to find out some things I didn’t know, like the fact that Adam Savage has only a high school diploma, and that neither he nor Jamie Hyneman are scientists. It turns out, they’re just like so many of us: regular people with a love of science and a desire to separate fact from fiction.

According to Jamie, “Science isn’t just for guys in lab coats,” and he explains that they’re just guys who are “posing a question and methodically going about getting an answer.”

Adam Savage goes even further, saying that they never know how something is going to turn out. “Our ignorance is the audience’s ignorance. We’re a genuine experimentation show.”

We also learn a little more about Adam and Jamie in this episode. For instance, do you remember the scene in Lethal Weapon 3 when Mel Gibson and Renee Russo are comparing their scars? Well, Neil asks the MythBusters to “show me your scars,” and while we don’t get to see the actual scars (this episode is only a podcast, after all, with no behind the scenes footage), their descriptions give the tough movie cops a run for their money. Adding to the machismo, Adam recounts the time he blasted Jamie’s beret with a shotgun.

On a different front, the pair explain how the business of making the show, from insurance to advertisers, has sometimes curtailed experiments they wanted to do. In one case, Jamie wanted to be shot off the back of a moving train using a giant slingshot to test the concept of cancelling velocities. The danger that he might “interact with the ground under parameters which are unacceptable” was apparently too risky. Go figure.

Speaking of danger, you’ll hear how a San Diego truck driver, two Midwestern police officers, and four other people used what they learned on an MythBusters to escape from vehicles that were submerged under water and avoid drowning. (If you’re not familiar with that one, pay attention: it could save your life someday, too.)

My favorite part of this episode is when Adam and Jamie describe one of the myths they’ve busted, the legend that Archimedes set fire to a fleet of invading ships by having soldiers point mirrors at the wooden vessels. The story that involves a previous experiment at MIT, their own experiments on the show, President Barack Obama and an army of 500 high school students.

Neil asks the MythbBusters about the difficulty in disproving a negative, which leads them to explain why the lack of an existing control and the inability to engage in proper scientific experiments has meant the show has never tried to prove that the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra and the Jackalope don’t exist.

But while they can’t disprove Bigfoot, Adam and Jamie do get to tell us about the weirdest urban legend they ever investigated that turned out to be true… although you’ll have to listen to the show to find out what that was (and to hear comic co-host Chuck Nice’s related theory about racist elephants.)

By the time Part 2 of Neil’s interview with the MythBusters was over, I was genuinely disappointed there wasn’t a part 3 on the way. Listen for yourself Sunday night at 7 pm ET on our website, iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher and let us know if you agree.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons

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