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The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions 580

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

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  • by obli ( 650741 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:54PM (#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?
  • by Deltaspectre ( 796409 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:14PM (#14311127)
    So I was looking at the questions and I wondered what the terminal velocity of a bullet was... :P

    I'm sure I got some figures wrong somewhere but is 260,000 m/h a reasonable figure for terminal velocity for a bullet?

    My calculations (based on Wikipedia mostly)

    sqrt((2*7.5g*9.8 m/s^2)/(.295*1.2kg/m^3*74.661912907937mm^2))

    In the format of sqrt((2*mass*acceleration due to gravity)/(drag coeffecient*density of fluid it's traveling through*cross sectional area)

    Is this within reason? 74.5 m/s or 268,478 m/h
    P.S. Sig figs be damned :D
  • by Evil Closet Monkey ( 761299 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:18PM (#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 E-Sabbath ( 42104 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:18PM (#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.
  • Whose robot was it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by reset_button ( 903303 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:24PM (#14311203)
    ADAM SAVAGE -- ... interviewed Jamie and I about a robot we had in the original "Robot Wars"...

    JAMIE HYNEMAN -- ... interviewed me some years ago during "Robot Wars" when I had a notorious robot ...

    ... we, or I?
  • by Zardus ( 464755 ) <yans@yancomm.net> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:30PM (#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.
  • by Cheeze ( 12756 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:31PM (#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.
  • by Blue-Footed Boobie ( 799209 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:32PM (#14311265)
    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-SuperShine Cleaner, it will be clean in a jiffy! Yes, from Spaffco!". Makes 'modern' product placement seem pretty harmless, eh?

  • Re:Blendo... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slackadmin ( 840635 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:35PM (#14311297)
    It is somewhat interesting that in the M5 industries press page How to Combot, the book caption on Build your own Combat Robot actually says Jamie Hyneman a.k.a "Adam Savage". Strange. http://www.m5industries.com/html/press/combot_book .htm [m5industries.com]
  • Re:Very Cool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by damsa ( 840364 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:45PM (#14311372)
    Also Alton Brown from the Food network.
  • Re:Computer Myths (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:55PM (#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.
  • by midnightblaze ( 788520 ) <juancnuno@fastmaMOSCOWil.fm minus city> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:58PM (#14311497) Homepage

    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).

    I found this very interesting. I would love to travel to the far reaches of the universe, just to see what's out there. But I would get lonely eventually. And not being able to return? I feel people need interaction with others as much as sleep and food. OK, well maybe not AS much, you certainly wouldn't die from lack of human contact. But it'd mess you up. It'd mess me up.

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:00PM (#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 @04:01PM (#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 j-cloth ( 862412 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:11PM (#14311631)
    The problem with subscription based is: who pays for startup shows? Would you pay for a new series in September before you know whether it will be worth it (say, Battelstar Galactica) or not (say, Enterprise). And what if you subscribed to a Fox show? Think they'll give your money back when they cancel it mid season? In the current model, the advertizers and producers take the risk -- and I'd rather it be them than me.
  • Re:Kari? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:11PM (#14311641)
    Why dont they post the digital scan they made of her ass on the airline toilet episode to keep all the lonely geeks happy!
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:11PM (#14311643) Homepage
    How true would this be?

    I only ask this because I grew up in Bakersfield, California in the 1980's when oil drilling there was still pretty big. A friend of my parents had a son who would visit us from time to time (my parents and their family knew each other for a long time), one of his first (of many) jobs he had was working on an oil rig. One day he came over after working in the fields to show us something.

    He showed us where a bolt fell off the top of a rig he was working on and hit his steel work helmet. It dented it in about 3/4's inch, just barely before the webbing around his head.

    Now, I was kid at the time, and impressed, but I never got the idea that he was lying about that incident, or just making up bullshit for a story. I suppose it is possible, though...

    Now, a bullet (depending) isn't likely as big as a bolt, but I would imagine that a large enough calibre bullet would have as much or more mass than a bolt, and tumbling or not, it would be falling from a greater distance. I can't imagine that if it hit you (head, body, or anywhere) that it would just leave a bruise - I would expect more damage than that (and if it hit you on the head, I would expect major damage up to and including death).

    Does this seem plausible, or am I completely wrong?

  • by SeanDuggan ( 732224 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:29PM (#14311783) Homepage Journal
    As the secondary characters get more screen time, their names appear in the main credits, even if they were not before.

    You can see it in nearly all non-sitcom TV shows (it doesn't usually happen in sitcoms cause the characters rarely shift and change).
    It's also interesting to try to predict who's going to be leaving the show based on their names disappearing, changing order, or changing font sizes. I remember that shortly before Giles got written out of Buffy, he started appearing as an "also starring" credit, which was a big tipoff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:42PM (#14311892)
    Why? Do you think that truck makers think that "truck owners are retarted so let's throw out all Aerodynamics?"

    The engineers know best, otherwise you would have found vented tailgates years ago.

    Most of us in the Automotive industry have known this for over 2 decades and make fun of the idiots with the mesh tailgate nets.

  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:42PM (#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 Jetson ( 176002 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @05:00PM (#14312044) Homepage
    I would love to travel to the far reaches of the universe, just to see what's out there. But I would get lonely eventually. And not being able to return? I feel people need interaction with others as much as sleep and food. OK, well maybe not AS much, you certainly wouldn't die from lack of human contact. But it'd mess you up. It'd mess me up.

    Maybe someone autistic would volunteer to go. There are benefits to having a reduced desire/need for social contact...

  • by MedBob ( 96899 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @05:02PM (#14312056) Homepage
    Didn't they leave a laser http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/21jul_llr. htm [nasa.gov] target on the moon, that is designed to bounce back a laser aimed at it? Perhaps if you could independently confirm the existance of that mirror, you could prove that there have been men on the moon.
    It would also give you the chance to play around with some cool high-intensity lasers as well!
  • by joggle ( 594025 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:10PM (#14313042) Homepage Journal
    Yes, a bullet fired straight up from the surface of Earth in a vacuum would reach about 23 miles up. However, the bullet is going supersonic at first which generates a huge amount of drag. After it is subsonic the drag would still be substantial. It's difficult to estimate accurately, but I bet the height a bullet would achieve with a muzzle velocity of 2800 ft/s would be about 3-7 miles.

    The height the bullet achieves doesn't matter though. Once the bullet hits terminal velocity during the fall it won't accelerate further. I know bullets are aerodynamically stable so it should be able to achieve a pretty high terminal velocity (on the order of hundreds of feet per second I think).

    As for orbiting the moon, no chance. While the speed of the bullet would be nearly fast enough (perhaps even fast enough with a high-powered rifle), it would be impossible to make a bullet orbit the moon since it would need a course correction (at least if it is to orbit at any altitude at all).

  • by kbielefe ( 606566 ) <karl...bielefeldt+slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:19PM (#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 martinX ( 672498 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:26PM (#14313149)

    Broadcasters have enjoyed a half century of total control of the means, timing, and content of all entertainment of the public.

    Not at all. Broadcasters have enjoyed a half century of total control of the means, timing, and content of television and radio. Before that, there were playhouses which were "controlled" by evil playhouse owners. Before that, I suppose people entertained themselves in small groups. Or paid minstrels. Possibly evil minstrels. Either way, it's pay someone to do it, or it's DIY.

    Don't be a slave to the broadcasters or their programs. Take what you will for as much as you will pay.* If the price is too high, read a book, join a club, build something. Don't show the bastards by breaking the laws that they paid for, show them by sidestepping the "must watch this TV show" cycle. It's TV, not oxygen.

    *e.g. I don't have cable TV. Lots of nifty shows on cable, but the price is too high for me. So I stick to FTA and ads.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"