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The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions 580

Posted by Zonk
from the poetry-in-motion dept.
Almost exactly a month ago we asked you for questions to put to the Mythbusters, hosts of the Discovery show that explores urban myth and legend. The response was huge, with dozens of worthwhile questions posted to the story. Today, we have answers back from Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. They've obviously taken some time to answer your questions, and discuss everything from their shot at the moon to Creative Commons. Read on for their answers, and many thanks to both gentlemen for their thoughtful and interesting responses.
Idea behind MythBusters? by hal2814
Did you guys come up with the idea for the show or was it presented to you? How did the two of you end up as the shows hosts? How did the 'Build Team' get involved?

ADAM SAVAGE -- MythBusters was created by Peter Rees. Peter produced the show "Beyond 2000" out of Australia, and had interviewed Jamie and I about a robot we had in the original "Robot Wars" (before Battlebots - remember?) back in the mid-90s. Apparently a good producer never throws away a telephone number, because in the spring of 2002, he called up Jamie and asked him if he had an interest in hosting this show he was trying to cast for (MythBusters). Jamie called me, we sent in a demo reel, and apparently they loved it. "These were just the geeks we were looking for" was what we heard back.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- It was the idea of our producer, Peter Rees. He had interviewed me some years ago during "Robot Wars" when I had a notorious robot 'Blendo' which was instantly killing all the other robots. I was therefore somewhat notorious, so Peter spent a little time with me and when he had the idea to do the show he contacted me. I thought I could do the show but not carry it by myself, as I am not all that animated. I called Adam, who was an ex employee of mine and who was the liveliest FX guy I knew. We did a demo tape and the rest is history. The build team came as a result of the fact that the demand for the show is high, but as we do everything ourselves and don't just show up and talk, there is not enough time in a season for us to do all the shows they need - they wanted more builders. All three of the build team are people that Adam and I know well, and have worked with us in the past.

From the Front vs. From Behind? by unipus
Hey guys, great show! Just wondering, what's are the best and worst aspects of moving from behind the scenes to in front of the lens?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- It's nice to be able to put your skills out there and be appreciated - if a tree falls down in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, did it make a sound? And then also the show allows us to do things we would never have the opportunity to experience otherwise, so it has been a wonderful education about the world at large. But personally I find the camera obtrusive and it gets in the way of my normal process. When I am at my best it is a situation where the rest of the world goes away and I am completely absorbed in designing something. Time stops. Nothing else Exists but the task in front of me. Now try to do that in front of a camera with a bunch of people around, having to repeat things so the camera can get it from different angles, and then stop and talk about it, and often have to truncate what you say so that you make a nice concise and clear statement about it..... and remember, I am a guy that does not normally talk much. Very disconcerting!

ADAM SAVAGE -- For me the best thing is that people are inspired by what we're doing. That was a result we never saw coming. There are times when I'm with my kids and people come up and don't know what to say, but really, we should all have such problems that folks are constantly wanting to tell you that they like your work. The hardest part is waiting for the camera. Jamie and I have to do things on the show super fast, and we do, but man, if we weren't shooting a show, it would go so much faster I swear. The rule is: if it doesn't happen on camera, it didn't happen. Sometimes when we're in the crunch, that can be very stifling. But again, we should all have such problems right?

Favorites? by MikesOnFire
What is your favorite Busted Myth and your favorite Confirmed one?

ADAM SAVAGE -- I've always been partial to the Penny Drop myth, i.e. will a penny dropped from the Empire State Building kill you when it hits the ground? To me, that was one of the most elegant and simple applications of science to a question that we've done. Until last week. We just worked on a myth called "bullets fired up" -- i.e., will a bullet fired directly vertically kill you when it comes back down. We did tons of research on it, and in the end, added significantly to the body of knowledge that's out there on the subject. I won't give away the ending, but we nailed this one.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- There are no favorites! The myths are so varied in what they involve that it is comparing apples and oranges. Compare putting rockets on a full sized automobile that has been radio controlled and driven from a helicopter, to training goldfish. They are all interesting and fun - maybe some are more dangerous or exciting than others (like the rocket car), but then goldfish memory or failing a drug test by eating a poppyseed bagel is more relevant to real life.

Blown Away? by bobertfishbone
Have you ever been completely blown away by what you've found? Has there been an experiment where you two just sit back and say "Huh...who woulda thought?" Most of the myths are pretty easy to debunk, but I'm just curious as to whether or not there was actually one that you guys did that totally shocked you in being true.

ADAM SAVAGE -- We're constantly surprised by the results of what we're doing. Every day. There are countless times when we have what we think is a solid idea of what the outcome of one of our experiments will be, and the result is totally the opposite. That's probably one of the best parts of the job: being confounded by one result and coming up with a way to understand it, and to make it understandable within the confines of the show. The most surprising result? That would have to be "Liferaft Skydive." I wouldn't have bet in a million years that a raft would remain stable all the way down (from 3,000 feet!) and to see that raft, with Buster the crash-test dummy inside, float safely to the ground like a leaf. Amazing.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- A total shock? I don't really think so -- I'm kind of philosophic about it. We are always learning new things as we shoot the show. For example, I did not know earlier that a hand gun bullet that is going relatively slowly will travel further through water than a bullet from a high powered rifle, because the rifle bullet is going so fast it just explodes from the impact and is stopped in a couple of feet. But that is just one factoid out of a thousand that we have run across in the course of doing our job. Pigs still generally don't fly.

Houston, we have a myth? by richdun
Assuming an unlimited budget, what myth would you most like to test? How about using 1960s technology to try and land on the moon?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- You read our minds! On a side note; I once asked Adam if he was given a rocket ship and told he would be able to travel anywhere in the universe, but he would never be able to return, would he do it? Well, both of us would (but not together).

ADAM SAVAGE -- That's exactly what we want to do! Remember Salvage 1? The TV show with Andy Griffith about the guys who go to the moon with a ship they built in their garage? Jamie and I have done the research, and figured that the only way to end the debate about the "myth" of the Apollo moon landing is to go there, and bring back something that was left there during one of the Apollo moon landings.

Myths that didn't make it? by skywalker107
What Myths have you tested that have never made it on the show? What about them made you and the producers decide they didn't qualify to go on the air?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- There are certain things that are not appropriate -- for example, myths with a highly sexual content. This is one side effect of the fact that the show seems to be popular with all ages and demographics, and that Discovery is a family oriented network.

Myths you cannot do? by jessejay356
Have there been any myths that were either too expensive or dangerous that you just couldn't get done?

ADAM SAVAGE -- We're relatively undaunted. We've found ways to do myths we thought impossible to do only months before. Besides going to the moon that is.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- We usually figure out a way around that. This is where our particular skills come into play; a lot of what we do on the show can be done by the average Joe, but for the most part the average Joe would not be able to do it as fast, safe or inexpensively.

Bittorrent? by boatboy
Your show is available on bittorrent networks to download and watch when/where it's more convenient. Some users, however, could download the show without paying for it via cable service. How do you personally feel about this? (Cheated\Angry\Flattered\What's A Bittorrent?)

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- There will likely always be a certain amount of this kind of opportunism, and I suppose it will be self regulating to some degree. If there is too much, then quality programming will be reduced, and there will be nothing to steal. Other similar ways of avoiding commercials are also having this effect, and companies like mine are going to go out of business because the advertising revenues are being cut. Somebody has to pay for good programming, and if you cut out all the ads, and cut out the cable revenues, then you will end up with nothing but the kind of programming that is on public access stations, which is fine if that is what you happen to like, but limiting and a bit of a waste for a medium that is as powerful as TV.

ADAM SAVAGE -- Personally, I cannot condone the downloading of copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder. That being said, I look forward to a future where such a thing will be possible, and encouraged, and conducted in such a way that properly takes care of the needs of the artists, the distributors, AND the end users. We're not there yet, but Creative Commons is a step in the right direction to be sure.

working at M5? by kin_korn_karn
How do you recruit talent for M5? What qualifies someone to work there?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- I pull people from the local talent pool on an as needed basis. Often by referrals from co workers or from ILM which is the only other significant shop in the Bay Area for our kind of work. I look for experience with a range of mediums, but otherwise I'm big on basic intelligence and work ethic. Putting together a crew is kind of like making soup: it's the combination of things that makes it work.

Injuries? by jacksonai
What is the worst injury anyone sustained while trying to bust a myth?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Besides a couple of stitch-worthy cuts that I've sustained, I'd say the greatest injury has been to my dignity when receiving a rectal thermometer during the "Goldfinger Revisit" myth.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- So far we have only had minor cuts and scrapes. The worst of these was a broken finger sustained, ironically, by one of the crew when handling safety equipment; specifically the bullet resistant Lexguard panels we use which are quite heavy. We are becoming increasingly aggressive about maintaining safety on the show as over time -- as we are often replicating circumstances in which someone got hurt or killed, let's just say we have reason to be cautious.

Repeatable Experiments? by Aggrazel
I'm a father of a 7 year old who absolutely loves your show. We have it on our tivo and I'm constantly pausing the show to ask him what he thinks will happen in your experiments. You start every show with "Don't try this at home" but sometimes there are experiments that you do which you could probably try (safely) at home. Have you ever considered having a show where you say, "DO Try this at home?" Its fun to see my child get such a love of science in such a fun way.

ADAM SAVAGE -- That's a great idea! There's a book coming out next year called "MythBusters: Don't Try This at Home," that's actually about myths we did, and we offer ways that YOU can illustrate and test some of the concepts at home, safely.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- The fact that young people are becoming interested in science as a result of the show is by far the biggest bonus for us, and one that took us by surprise as we had no intent that the show do this. However one of the reasons it has worked is that very fact that we are not really trying to be educational. We blow stuff up, we screw around. Adam puts things up his nose. Sometimes we do stuff just because we are curious. We are interesting to young people perhaps because we are a little bit out of control. Putting this into a context that you can do at home is a little difficult, and I would suggest that this be the realm of the parent, who in doing so will also learn and be all the more involved with the child, all in all a good thing. As long as the parent doesn't blow up or otherwise harm the child, which would, of course, be counterproductive.

Source Material? by DigitalSorceress
I've been a fan since your first season, and in that time, you've covered quite a few of the big, classic myths and legends. Are you ever concerned that you'll "use up" all the best source material, sort of running out of steam as it were? Or is the internet such a fertile ground for kooks and bad jokes that you figure you can go on indefinitely?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Every time I think we may be reaching the end of large scale, popular myths -- every time I can't imagine how we'll mine any more things to test out of the popular consciousness -- every time I think that we'll end up doing esoteric, historical myths at the end of the series' run (not that that's a bad thing), we come across something amazing, that nobody can believe we hadn't thought of before.

Fact vs Fun? by elrick_the_brave
When I watch your show, it's obvious that there is a lot of fun going on. Who wouldn't like blowing up, breaking down, stinking up, falling down, and all-around destroying everything? For those of us not of TV-land.. how long does it take for you guys to produce an average episode.. how much of it is fun vs time spent working on getting it right? What is the most tedious part of busting myths?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Normally, it takes us about a week to film a single myth. That's an average. We've done them in as little as a day, and taken as much as 3 weeks or more to complete the big ones (can anyone say "JetPack?"). It's not a contiguous week though. We'll work on one myth in the morning, a second after lunch, a third the next morning, and shoot blueprints for 4 or 5 myths in the afternoon. Since much of what we do requires elaborate research, not to mention extensive permits, safety forms, and insurance clearance, at any one time we might be working on 4 myths or more.

As for the fun/tedious quotient: it IS a lot of fun, no doubt, but it can also be very exacting work. One of the most frustrating things about doing the show happens to be the thing that's most fun about it: what we do rarely conforms to our expectations. We thought testing formulas for skunk removal would be simple. Get sprayed, clean it off. Turned out that just finding a skunk with full juice sacks during mating season was nearly impossible. Who would have thought that? And that's generally the rule: NOTHING is ever as simple as we think it's going to be. Really though, that's the most satisfying part too. When we beat our heads against the wall for a while, trying several different tacks towards a question, and then we achieve an elegant experiment and a bonafide result, those are the good days. And they far outnumber the bad days.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- It takes about 3 weeks on average to do a show. While we do have fun from time to time, the bulk of my experience is worrying about keeping to the schedule, worrying about getting results, trying to keep people from getting hurt, cleaning up messes. We are in general cut up, bruised, achy from lifting, and stressed out. That being said I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, and Adam in particular is excited because he has an unlimited quantity of stories to tell at dinner parties.

Computer myths? by Short Circuit
Have you ever considered taking on some computer myths? Like whether or not it was ever possible for a virus to destroy old monitors?

ADAM SAVAGE -- The biggest problem with these for us is that they're not that visual. That being said, we've wanted for years to test different techniques for eliminating spam. Set up 2 brand new computers, hook them up to the internet, surf a little, and see what kind of spam they get. Then test to see what the actual real-world results of spam fighting techniques are (should you really click on those links that say they'll stop if you do?).

Fan science? by SilentChris
How often do fans question your results? Have you had any diehard science/physics freaks tell you you're wrong? Are there more "myth revisits" planned because of this feedback? How does it feel to have your decisions nitpicked?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Fans question our work all the time. Constantly. Fully 10% of the email I get is people telling me we got it wrong. I appreciate all the comments/criticism, etc., and much of the time, the criticism leads to a revisit, or a rethinking of our methodology. We don't claim to be infallible, and we're always totally willing to revisit our results. I like to think that places us in good company. The only criticisms I dislike are the ones that dispense with common courtesy. Sometimes I'll get just a sentence telling me that I'm an idiot, with no greeting and no signature. Jamie and I both read every email we get, we just don't have time to respond to them all.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- We get grief from fans all the time. As far as I'm concerned, 'myths' are just an excuse for us to play around with things, and we have no corner on truth or science or anything like that. I am aware that good science doesn't work on a shoot schedule, no matter what. What I do like is the fact that the show is thought-provoking -- and if someone disagrees about a result, then great! It means people are thinking.

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The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • Kari? (Score:5, Funny)

    by fliplap (113705) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:34PM (#14310806) Homepage Journal
    Wait, all this...and not a single Kari question?
  • Blendo... (Score:3, Informative)

    by canning (228134) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:43PM (#14310879) Homepage
    In case you're like me and never watched "Robot Wars"

    http://www.tectonic.force9.co.uk/bestbots.htm/ [force9.co.uk]
    http://www.m5industries.com/html/press/sfweekly.ht m/ [m5industries.com]
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:43PM (#14310880)
    JAMIE HYNEMAN -- Other similar ways of avoiding commercials are also having this effect, and companies like mine are going to go out of business because the advertising revenues are being cut. Somebody has to pay for good programming, and if you cut out all the ads, and cut out the cable revenues, then you will end up with nothing but the kind of programming that is on public access stations, which is fine if that is what you happen to like, but limiting and a bit of a waste for a medium that is as powerful as TV.

    Or, like they have been doing more and more, they are going to move to blatant advertising inside programs via product placement, discussions by characters about products and then linking outside-show ads to that, or making TV shows "commercial free" and "sponsored by Foo" (i.e. 24's season premeire a couple years ago -- which is one of the reasons I stopped watching the show).

    The shows that have been doing this (Survivor, The Apprentice, etc) have done nothing but piss me off more than their existence already does. The fact that my wife watches them and I like to be w/her forces me to watch these programs. The blatant in-show advertising is actually starting to piss HER off. Want to alienate your viewership? Piss off those that actually wanted to watch your shows.

    ADAM SAVAGE -- Personally, I cannot condone the downloading of copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder. That being said, I look forward to a future where such a thing will be possible, and encouraged, and conducted in such a way that properly takes care of the needs of the artists, the distributors, AND the end users. We're not there yet, but Creative Commons is a step in the right direction to be sure.

    Sadly the networks cannot condone properly taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.
    • by no_opinion (148098) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:57PM (#14310994)
      Sadly the networks cannot condone properly taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.

      So you are actually trying to argue that users "need" to download a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder? That is a "want" of end users, not a need, just like I want $1 million. There is no rational justification other than self interest.
      • I want to download the content. That I am given no legal way to do that means now i need to steel it to get it in my preferred medium. :)

        that was meant as a joke, but seriously, is offering me a free download with commercials and a non-free commercial free version really that much to ask? There are people out there than can do this without too much hassle for FREE. Try giving me nice, easy-to-find, legal links. As long as you don't try to take advantage of customers (hint: pricing) there is plenty of mo
    • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:04PM (#14311044)
      Sadly the networks cannot condone properl taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.

      Your version of the "needs of the end users" is an endless black hole. The end user always wants faster, better, cheaper.. hell free and lots of it! Yes, sadly the networks can not afford to produce quality programming and give it away for free, without advertising or some other revenue source.

      Your cynicism is misplaced - it should not be directed at the pockets of the networks, but rather at your own inability to recognize that the problem is that the end-users who choose to pirate are an unbalancing force in the ecosystem, and if and when that ecosystem comes crashing down (as many here so often claim they wish it will, at least as music is concerned), then they better be the last in line bitching about how suddenly there are fewer shows on TV (or music CDs in the stores) or that copyrightholders increasingly resort to stricter and stricted methods to try to bring some balance back.

      • by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:42PM (#14311896)
        then they better be the last in line bitching about how suddenly there are fewer shows on TV (or music CDs in the stores)

        I don't think that would happen. If congressed outlawed copyrights and DRM technolgies today there would still be musicians making music, painters making paintings, people writing books, people making movies (albeit low budget), and people still coding programs tomorrow.

        Not saying that things might seem a bit odd and vacant for a while with nothing on TV and no more great leaps and bounds in software investment, but the world would survive. A few artists might starve, but they've been starving for centuries... If you want to make money do something that is about making money... Like being a banker.

        The problems with society today is that all professions are all about their money and not about their passion. (I'm getting a bit OT here)

        Would you like to listen to a musician who makes his music because he wants to make roll around in money or because he likes to make good music.

        Would you like to go to a doctor because he likes his income or his desire to heal people.

        Would you like to have a lawyer who does it out of desire for money or the desire to see justice.

        I know... I know... These statments are overly idealistic and if we forced soceity to not be like this we wouldn't have any doctors, lawyers, or musicians except for the handful who did it for the sake of passion. And life would be very crappy...

        But to tell you the truth... The human race could do without all the TV shows, crap music, and useless media we have today. We spent billions on this useless stuff and yet we haven't got much to show for it other than wasted time.

        The only reason I say we shoulnd't pay these media outlets is that it could be spent elsewhere in technology and things that will directly mankind. You know... Like a space program... Artificial intelligence... Robotics... Nanotechnology... Maybe Immortality if we ever get around to it... Things that would actually make a friggin difference to our lives rather than watching a TV screen to pass time in our wasted lives from conception to death.
    • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:04PM (#14311045) Journal
      So, let me get this straight: you don't want commercials during the show, you don't want one advertiser to sponsor the whole thing and not have any commercials, and you don't want product placements. Do you want all television to be subscription only, then? Cause someone has to pay to make these things, they're not cheap.
      • Either you pay for it by higher product prices (commercials are also not free) or you pay for the TV show yourself.
        In the last case at least your money is going to shows you want to watch.
        And no matter how much you try to resist commercials, they'll get you in the end. And if you don't buy anything anymore for which you saw an add, then what are you going to do? Live of sunlight?
        So yes, bring on paid for shows. It saves me time (not having to watch ads), it saves me annoyance (not having to watch stupid
      • by Zardus (464755) <yans@yancomm.net> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:30PM (#14311250) Homepage Journal
        There are constantly new (or maybe not so new) ideas popping up like iTunes movie store and the like. I've heard ideas being pitched about buying "seasons tickets" to a show and having access to download that show, commercial-free. However, in the end, its all just going to go the way cable did: start out as a new "commercial-free" subscription service and then gradually add ads and the like until its just normal TV again.

        Even making "commercial-free" stuff to start out with is hard nowadays, cause like GP said, shows have commercials filmed in now with product placing, so new services won't even be commercial free.
      • Do you want all television to be subscription only, then?

        Yes.

        Cable was originally supposed to be that way. Eventually, however, the cable networks realised that they could have it both ways and further increase their revenue, so they added commercials to their broadcasting just like the broadcast networks were doing.

        I wouldn't mind paying $2 for an episode of a show that I want to see. I don't know how much these stations make on advertising revenue, but I would think that a million people paying $2 for an
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:55PM (#14311475)
        HBO works that way. It's $11/month on top of what we pay for cable and for that there's about 10 feeds, 1 high def. The programs and movies run uncut and without commercial interruption. Now clearly it's a workable business model since they've been doing it for years, and show no signs of stopping.

        Personally, I could really go for that for all TV. You pay like $10-20 month (currently a fair bit of your bill is the cost the cable companies pays the channels to carry them) or whatever for transport. That goes to the cable company for their part in getting you the programming. That comes with only free things like public acess and PBS. Then you get whatever packages you want. Maybe some channels are $20/month/channel and some are $5/month for a 10-pack. They decide what kind of money they need to support their programming.

        I would much rather pay the same amount for less channels if they were ad free. When you get down ot it, of the about 200 channels I have on my current feed I watch maybe 30 of them. I don't need the massive bundle of crap channels that you have to pay for to get some of the ones you want. For example I like all the discovery channels, there are 5 of them including the main discovery channel. The thing is, you have to pay for quite a bit extra to get them. You don't get any of them on basic cable which is like $15/month and gets you like 15 channels. To get discovery, you need to buy expanded basic which is more like $35/month which is about 60-80. However that only gets you the main feed. If you want discovery science, life, military, etc, you need digital cable. That's like $45/month, and you need to rent a digital reciver so $50/month total and is 100 or so channels.

        Now I'd much rather just pay $10/month or so to discovery, and get their channel pack. Now of course it would add up with all the channels I'd want, but I bet not to more than I pay now, and I'd be much happier with no commercials.

        It IS a feasable method of doing business, espically with digital cable where channel access control is easy for the cable company. The current "ad supported" model isn't necessary and, perhaps with more DVRs, it will go away.
    • I wonder about product placement in Mythbusters... if you have ever watched the show, they use "Mythbusters-branded" (either stick a Mythbuster print over the original labels or paint over them) everything. Cola, bug spray, gasoline, etc.

      For many myths, this would work fine as long as they can get sponsorships for all the front-row stuff required by the myth. "Today, we are going to test wether or not fried chicken provided by KFC has more penetration power than thawed and frozen chicken provided by XYZ usi
    • Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of watching commercials or product placement in TV shoes, but the shows we watch have to be funded somehow. What's wrong with an entire episode, shown commercial free, that touts a sponsor for the 1/2 hour time slot (or hour depending on the show)? I'd rather have a 2 or 3 minute commercial air before my show telling me about some product and how they are providing me the next 27 minutes of television than deal with commercials in the middle.

      The unfortunate situation (
    • Sadly the networks cannot condone properly taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.
      Not only wouldn't it be fiscally responsible to their pockets, it wouldn't be possible. It costs money to pay employees, to purchase equipment, to advertise a show. All that takes resources. You either bring in more resources than you pay out, or you do not have the resources to make the show. There is no magical fairy that is going to give us everything we want withou
      • BBC! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by why-is-it (318134) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:47PM (#14311385) Homepage Journal
        So far, commercial programing happens to be the best model we have for producing good television.

        Oh really? What about the BBC [bbc.co.uk]? The compulsary license model seems to produce a lot more quality programming than the commercial model.

        • Re:BBC! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:17PM (#14311691)
          There's a lot of crap on the beeb too. North Americans think british TV is cool because we've been filtered - they only bother exporting the best stuff.
        • Re:BBC! (Score:3, Informative)

          by RexRhino (769423)
          The BBC is no great thing. They have a few good shows, of course (which is great for people in North America who get the [best of] BBC as a few of the 500 commercial channels in their cable package). But a lot of the BBC is either cheap ripoffs of American shows, or insipid pseudo-intellectual crap so that the viewers can feel "cultured". Yes, "Doctor Who" is great in a Anglo-kitch kind of way, but for every "Doctor Who" there is a "Fat Friends" or "Space Cadets". And the BBC is absolutly monolithic in show
          • Re:BBC! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ford Prefect (8777)
            Yes, "Doctor Who" is great in a Anglo-kitch kind of way, but for every "Doctor Who" there is a "Fat Friends" or "Space Cadets". And the BBC is absolutly monolithic in showing only the whitebread petty bougiouse government beurocrats eye view of the world. Give me commercial programing over the BBC any day.

            ... Of your two examples, neither of which were BBC productions. (Fat Friends: ITV, Space Cadets: Channel 4 - both commercial stations.) There's plenty of BBC-originated shit too, obviously.

            Oh, and the go [bbc.co.uk]
    • Have you ever watched (or listening to) any old shows from the 40s and 50s? Do we really want to go back to that type of advertising? No, I would raher have a few 30 second spots instead of going back to the "way it was".

      For those that don't know what I am talking about, on some old shows the actors would eb doing the "commercials" right in the middle of the show. So, say someone dropped a pie, the other actor would go "That's no problem with New Floor-SuperShine Cleaner from Spaffco! Why, with Floor-

      • I actually prefer those old ads by quite a bit.

        Firstly, they're typeically at the start and end, so the show runs continuously in the middle. The only exceptions I can think of are some of the comedies and variety shows. Listen to some of the Sherlock Holmes episodes. Dr. Watson converses with the Petri Wine spokesman at the beginning and end, and sometimes to move the plot along. But it never disrupts the drama with blatant advertising.

        Secondly, since the actors in the shows were often quite talented,
    • It depends on the show and how the advertising is done. CSI:Miami is a good example of the okay and the bad. Okay: the CSIs drive Hummer H2s in the show. The vehicle for the most part is just there -- the actors don't make a big deal about it. The bad: a few weeks ago they were advertising some cellphone music service. The in show advertising was so blatant that it disrupted the flow of the show (reminded me of the in-show advertising spoof in the move The Truman Show.

      In show advertising doesn't both

  • Good Responses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nos. (179609) <andrew@@@thekerrs...ca> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:44PM (#14310890) Homepage
    It was nice seeing both of them answer most of the questions. I think most of us would agree that its not pure science, but aside from some notable exceptions, they more or less accomplish what they set out to do. Its entertainment and it obviously makes people think critically about what they are seeing on TV... all in all a good thing. Keep up the good work guys.
  • by sl3xd (111641) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:45PM (#14310897) Journal
    Jamie and I have done the research, and figured that the only way to end the debate about the "myth" of the Apollo moon landing is to go there, and bring back something that was left there during one of the Apollo moon landings.

    Except that then the conspiracy theorists would then claim that the artifacts left on the moon were placed there by a separate unmanned mission. They could also argue that the artifacts really didn't come from the moon-- the new visit to the moon was also faked, because it's impossible to get past the Van Allen Belts, and the artifacts never left Earth.

    The people who are so insistent that the moon landings were a hoax simply re-interpret and filter what facts will fit their cospiracy theory; anything that disagrees with their conclusions are simply ignored or swept under the rug.
    • Find one of the skeptics, and strap him/her to the rocket you send up. Make a believer out of 'em!
      • You obviously haven't heard about the Space Cadet reality TV series filming right now.
      • I say we chose Jonathan Frakes. Not only will he be able to do a special about how we actually *did* land on the moon, but he'll be able to play his pretend Thunderbird and Insurrection games the whole way:

        "Flaps to 5" (5 what?)
        "Geostationary orbit has been resumed" (from reentry to the atmosphere a few moments ago?)
        "Give me manual control!" (A Microsoft Sidewinder to control a STARSHIP?)

        I liked Clockstoppers, I really did. It was a cute movie. But he *never* should have been let near Thunderbirds, much les
    • There's actually a psychological phenomena describing this - the name of it escapes me at the moment. All of us do it, though...we tend to ignore facts that don't fit preconceived notions and both recognize and remember better ones that do. For example, you're driving on the highway and someone cuts you off. You see their license plate from state X and think "Dang, those drivers sure do suck out there!"

      What's different with the conspiracy theorists is that they're taking this to an extreme.
    • by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:09PM (#14311081)
      Everything we do today that is outside the reach of common experience is effectively based on belief, just like a philosophy or even a religion is. Science allows us to demonstrate that things are possible, but the fact is that most people, even scientists in other disciplines, frequently have to take certain things on faith, because there is no way that you will ever be able to actually demonstrate the experiments to them.

      The moon landings will always be doubted, and doubtable, until we're heading there for vacations and doing real business there which provides materials or situations that move the moon into the common experience. Even then, the human capacity for doubt is large. Today, when we have people from Asia regularly flying halfway around the world to the US and back, there are still flat-earthers. Not many, but some.

      This is important to realize, because science is good methodology for getting good theories and proving them, but if you are not able to personally experience the results, you may as well be reading about the painstaking methodology of determining the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin, and it will have as much credence to you as anything else, if you trust the source.

      Science is not popular and effective today simply because it produces good theories, it is effective today because a) it produces results we work with and b) we have an educational system that provides non-scientists the ability to replicate some experiments on their own. Without the personal experience, you can say that computers run on electricity all you want, and publish scientific papers up the wazoo about the theories, and people will still be capable of listening to the guy who insists that computers actually run on aether or Brazilian power crystals and that the Moon cannot be landed on because the Radiation belts will kill you instantly (or turn you into the Fantastic Four).
    • anything that disagrees with their conclusions are simply ignored or swept under the rug

      Sounds like some religions. I suppose until a whole group of conspiracy theorists can be given a trip to the moon, the doubt will always remain.

      And even then, they might claim that their memories of the trip were false, or that just because they went, doesn't prove that Armstrong, etc. ever went.

      Until everybody knows somebody who actually lives on the moon, will the conspiracy theorists be relegated to the status of

    • Coincidentally, today I came across a page with highlights from a "debate" with a moon hoax believer. I use quotes because it is basically him making astoundingly ignorant statements and ignoring the replies. It's a pretty funny read, and gives you an idea of the caliber of intellect you're dealing with in these arguments... http://seaofcrisis.com/ext/babb/moonman.htm [seaofcrisis.com].
  • by no_opinion (148098) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:45PM (#14310901)
    Somebody has to pay for good programming, and if you cut out all the ads, and cut out the cable revenues, then you will end up with nothing but the kind of programming that is on public access stations, which is fine if that is what you happen to like, but limiting and a bit of a waste for a medium that is as powerful as TV.

    Myth: the information wants to be free.
    Status: BUSTED (if you want to keep seeing Mythbusters)

    I don't mind watching a few ads if that will keep this show on the air.
    • As DVRs become more common in homes the problem of ad supported shows will become critical. Most DVRs allow users to easily skip past commercials, some even provide automatic skipping of commercials. And being able to watch shows you want to watch when you want to watch them without commercials is fantastic.

      It really changes the way you entertain your brain. :)
  • in a word: yes
    Video of Cement truck being exploded [nyud.net]

    It must be nice to have friends with access to several tons of commercial grade explosives.
  • No favourites? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:53PM (#14310967)
    There are no favorites! The myths are so varied in what they involve that it is comparing apples and oranges.

    This sounds like a myth to me, a canned answer if I ever heard. I prefer oranges to apples personally. And I would much rather do an experiment shooting something and seeing the results than finding out whether a broken clock is actually right two times a day.
  • by obli (650741) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:54PM (#14310971)
    That part about the falling bullet got me thinking: If the myths actually contributed to new knowledge/discoveries, how seriously would they be taken?

    Would the scientific community base future research on an entertainment program?

    Would Jamie and Adam have to write a scientific publication without their crazy narrator and a really stiff academic style to be taken seriously?
    • I seriously doubt that they would have to do the actual writing (just as I doubt they did all of the research), but that doesn't mean that their show couldn't do the preliminary work to demonstrate that research needed to be done.
    • by ring-eldest (866342) <[ring_eldest] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:19PM (#14311166)
      A frequent criticism I have of their work in terms of scientific methodology is that they often only have a single (or very few) subjects per condition, even when it would be a simple matter to add more and achieve a greater degree of generalization. One that comes to mind is the testing of motion sickness remedies; the bias present in this bust precludes generalizability mostly because they only used a few subjects, all of them on the research team.

      Conducting good research of publishable quality would probably take far too much time to fit into their shooting schedule, but I don't see that as a big loss. If anything I think their show is a perfect example of the division between research and entertainment. I think that if their show encourages a single child to pursue a career in science, it has had more of an impact than a dozen published papers a year, regardless of their quality. Science in America is already far to maligned by politicians and misunderstood by the general public.
    • Rarely does a thoroughly un-studied issue suddenly get full-blown peer-reviewed high-budget scientific treatment. Someone has to start with "huh, what's that, kinda interesting, what if I..." - the analysis is barely "scientific" at that point, and often induces scoffs from detractors, but is vital to getting interest going: the initial rough "hey that's neat" overview garners enough interest for someone to take it seriously, and iteratively develop enough interest to eventually warrant hard scientific revi
    • "I saw this on Mythbusters, and got to thinking."

      Somehow I don't think that is the best opening for a paper.
    • I was in B&N just yesterday, and saw Jamie and Adam on the cover of Skeptic magazine. Magazine aside, one of the comments was that the Fedral Air Marshals had viewed footage from the Explosive Decompression myth in their training. They also mentioned that due to the shows success getting in touch with experts is much easier that it was for the first season.
  • Computer myths? by Short Circuit
    Have you ever considered taking on some computer myths? Like whether or not it was ever possible for a virus to destroy old monitors?

    ADAM SAVAGE -- ... Set up 2 brand new computers, hook them up to the internet, surf a little, and see what kind of spam they get....
    Translation: Why destroy an old monitor when we can destroy brand new computers.
    • If they do a bit about spam I hope they setup and test an MTA with grey-listing and spamassassin. But most likely they will play with some version of windows spam tool that is not as effective as grey-listing is.
    • Re:Computer Myths (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mabu (178417) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:55PM (#14311476)
      What they should do is do a myth about "starting your own myth" online.

      They could create an e-mail of some outrageous story, and turn it into a myth.

      The cool thing is, they don't reveal that they created the myth until the end. They simply act like they're going to test the myth, but later reveal details on how it was them that created something like a bogus e-mail message and got it propagated around the net.

      It would be even cooler if they could get snopes to claim it was true before it was exposed as a farce.
    • Re:Computer Myths (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jerry (6400) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:01PM (#14311535)
      Back in the early 80's I was working on an IBM computer and discovered that if I POKE'd a certain value into a certain memory location, and another value into other memory location within 15 ms, the filiment in the CRT would flare up. If not interrupted it would have burned the filiment out.

      Today all one has to do is change the horz or vert sync ranges to some point out of range of the monitor and the monitor could be damaged. This is why about any description on setting up an xserver has warnings about the the horz and vert sync range setting:

      http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/haserver/RHHAS- 1.0-Manual/s1-cd-rom-gui-xconf.html [redhat.com]
      "Caution Caution

      Do not select a monitor similar to your monitor unless you are certain that the monitor you are selecting does not exceed the capabilities of your monitor. Doing so may overclock your monitor and damage or destroy it. ."
      • Re:Computer Myths (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fallen_Knight (635373)
        Use a new computer before you talk.

        if you set the refresh rate on a new moniter to high it just turns off and puts up a message saying that its to high.
        Been like this for at least 5+ years, probably more.

        The warnings are in there because waaaaaaaaay back in the day, yes you could damage a moniter by setting the refresh to high, but no longer. On a mondren moniter its safe to safe there is NO way to damage it with normal hardware via software.
  • I am an "over-enthusiastic" 17-year-old chemistry student from Grane Street, Haslingden, Lancashire, UK and I must say that I think you're the best. I have followed your work throughout my A-Level chemistry course and you've been a great inspiration to me.

    Thanks!

    p.s. I was very disappointed with the police explosions. They could learn a thing or two from you both!
  • by Evil Closet Monkey (761299) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:18PM (#14311157) Homepage
    Have you ever considered having a show where you say, "DO Try this at home?" Its fun to see my child get such a love of science in such a fun way.

    BEST question and answers here! Sit down with your kids, engage them, challange them, let them have fun, and have fun yourself doing it! Who'd a thunk it!?

    Thumbs up Aggrazel!

    • by kbielefe (606566) <karl.bielefeldt+ ... noSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @06:19PM (#14313095)
      Sure, every self-respecting geek experiments on their kids.

      Experiment #1: When my baby girl was old enough that she would turn to look at us when we said something, we got a long tube that we could talk through so that my voice would appear to come from my wife, and vice versa. Turns out my daughter looked at the correct parent, no matter where the voice came from.

      Experiment #2: "Her favorite TV show is the wiggles, just look how captivated she is," my wife says. "She just likes the flashy light," I say. "Look, she's just as captivated when I turn it to C-SPAN." Of course, that wasn't very scientific of me, because politicians are often the most childish people on TV.

      Experiment #3: Baby likes banging on the computer keyboard, so I set her up with her own account and let her go crazy to test the million monkeys theory on a smaller scale. She hasn't written anything that compiles yet, but at least she has a much lower security vulnerability rate than internet explorer. It's all about choosing the right metrics. Note that there is no measurable difference in her productivity between the dvorak and standard layouts. Bonus: I can now make ad hominem attacks on slashdot that my one year old has more desktop linux experience than you.

      So what about you other slashdotters who have spawned child processes? What (harmless) experiments do you do on them?

  • by E-Sabbath (42104) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:18PM (#14311159)
    Long ago, there was a program named Shiva written, that caused the floppy drive to swing back and forth, creating a harmonic resonance with a IBM PC 5150, which broke it apart.
    Source: The Devouring Fungus, IIRC.
  • by Cheeze (12756) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:31PM (#14311258) Homepage
    I think Mythbusters is the modern-day Mr Wizard. I grew up on Mr Wizard (and Bill Nye to a lesser extent) and it is what sparked my science interest.

    Great show guys.
  • Kari Myth? (Score:3, Funny)

    by steelmaverick (936668) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:40PM (#14311333)
    Lets test the myth to see if kari would go out with us /.er's!:

    /.er's: Hey Kari, would you go out with us?
    Kari: No.
    Myth: BUSTED (and a restraining order against us)
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:00PM (#14311518)
    That pickup trucks have less drag with the tailgate up than down. The bed develops a cushion of air. I have a big Dodge RAM, and have seen leaves and bits of paper endlessly circulating around the bed but never flying out. I never though it meant better drag, though.
  • Bullet fire up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:01PM (#14311533) Homepage Journal
    Will be specially funny for me to see that, as i was a somewhat victim of that kind of experiment. Some christmas ago i was dinning with my family, in some moment out of nowhere something hit me in an arm over an elbow, and after trying to search what happened we found a bullet in the floor. Even if it had to go thru a zinc ceiling not sure what could had happen if it hitted me in the head or in a more fleshy part of the body.

    At least now i can say that for the testings made so far, i'm bulletproof... the only one that hitted me so far bounced.

    • by SonicSpike (242293) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @05:36PM (#14312803) Homepage Journal
      A falling bullet actually killed Henry McDaniel of Orlando almost a year ago. It was big news locally. Here is the scoop:
      http://www.local6.com/news/4084756/detail.html [local6.com]

      Man Arrested In New Year's 'Falling Bullet' Death
      Bullet Traveled 1 Mile Before Piercing Man's Heart

      POSTED: 5:51 pm EST January 14, 2005
      UPDATED: 10:28 pm EST January 15, 2005

      ORLANDO, Fla. -- Orange County sheriff's deputies have arrested a 24-year-old man Friday who allegedly fired a bullet into the sky on New Year's Eve that later fell to earth and pierced a man's heart, according to Local 6 News.

      Henry McDaniel, 75, was walking in a neighborhood near Orlando just before midnight when he collapsed in the street, witnesses and sheriff's officials said. He had been at a party celebrating the New Year with friends and had decided to visit another house.

      Before he collapsed, McDaniel told friends who were standing with him near the street: "Boys, something hit me. Something hit me."

      Doctors at Orlando Regional Medical Center later discovered the bullet, which struck his heart.

      Officials blamed the death on a common but illegal practice by New Year's Eve revelers to shoot into the air and began an investigation.

      On New Year's Eve, an Orlando police officer responded to the 1000 block of Plymouth Avenue after reports of gunshots.

      The Orlando police officer reportedly confiscated a gun from Richardo Roach, 24, (pictured, left) and then contacted the Orange County Sheriff's Office after hearing about McDaniel's death. Roach reportedly admitted to firing the gun into the air, Local 6 News reported.

      The weapon was examined forensically by the Sheriff's Office and then by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It was determined that the confiscated weapon fired the round that killed McDaniel.

      The bullet traveled more than one mile before it came down and hit McDaniel, Local 6 News reported.

      Roach was interviewed by officers and later arrested. He has been charged with manslaughter.
  • by GregGardner (66423) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:12PM (#14311648) Homepage
    ADAM SAVAGE- We thought testing formulas for skunk removal would be simple. Get sprayed, clean it off. Turned out that just finding a skunk with full juice sacks during mating season was nearly impossible. Who would have thought that?


    Come on, guys, everyone and their brother knows off the top of their heads the relative volume of skunk juice sacks in relation to their mating season! Geez!
  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:17PM (#14311692) Homepage
    They don't know the difference between spam and viruses (virii?)...

    >> ADAM SAVAGE -- we've wanted for years to test different techniques for eliminating spam. Set up 2 brand new computers, hook them up to the internet, surf a little, and see what kind of spam they get. Then test to see what the actual real-world results of spam fighting techniques are (should you really click on those links that say they'll stop if you do?).

    Oh well, the rest is cool.

    MadCow
  • by bsartist (550317) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:08PM (#14312105) Homepage
    For the father of the seven-year-old who wants experiments to do at home - try watching Zoom, on PBS. It's all about doing experiments and other activities at home, documenting the results, and sending them to the web site [pbskids.org] to compare with other kids' results. Basically, it's teaching the foundations of the scientific method. (Full Disclosure - I was lead developer for the Zoom web site for two years.)
  • by markana (152984) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:28PM (#14312258)
    Comparing the airspeed of African and European swallows, both with and without coconuts. And if such laden swallows could achieve the necessary range to carry the coconuts to England.

    *That* I'd like to see.....
  • by mallie_mcg (161403) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @06:33PM (#14313193) Homepage Journal
    Specifically the methodology used in most tests.

    Ever since the Air Conditioner test I have not been happy to sit and watch mythbusters with my friends. The issues I felt with it were that it was not scientific enough or appropriate to the myth that they were trying to bust.

    • Two seperate vehicles used, and not reverse tested - no comments relating to serviceing, mileage, economy each vehicle has - things like air filters make a big difference, and many mass produced cars will vary in economy by up to 10% (our fleet of 3.6L Commodoores do)
    • Vehicle chosen does not represent vehicle shape or aerodymanics that this "myth" relates to - referring to more common passenger sedans, not urban assult vehicles
    • The Air Conditioned Vehicle was on coldest for the duration - the point of the use your A/C not the Windows is to keep you at a comfortable temperature - not to have it on full blast - so the myth morphed into something else that they were testing


    It's things like that were the myth that is being tested is not what the myth originates about, and the scientific method (or lack thereof) that annoys me. Before that one I quite enjoyed the show, post that one, I became super critical of all tests! Other stuff that annoyed me - cans in cars exploding - which was "busted" I have personally had it happen to one of 12 sitting in a car, i think the hiding of branding gave extra strength or something to the can. Admittedly it appears that that one is more related to manufacturing flaws and faults in the container than anything else

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