The MythBusters: Combining science and fun

Jamie Hyneman (left) and Adam Savage (right) from Discovery Channel's "MythBusters," pictured here in San Francisco in 2006, came to UConn Friday, Nov. 4 to discuss science, television production, and their long-running show.  Savage and Hyneman took questions from the moderator, TJ McKenna, and the audience.  (Rob Lee/Flickr Creative Commons) 

The two hosts from “MythBusters” visited the University of Connecticut to chat about science, television production and their long-running show on Friday night.

“MythBusters,” a program on the Discovery Channel, featured Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, two special effects engineers who tested myths and urban legends on the show. The show reached its 14th and final season this past March.

Savage and Hyneman took questions from the moderator, TJ McKenna, and the audience. McKenna is a UConn Ph.D. student, scientist and television host for the Connecticut Science Center.

McKenna asked the pair if they had ever made up a myth that they really wanted to do an experiment on. The answer was no, but Savage said he tried to post a fake myth on a few chatrooms to generate belief in the myth, but it never worked out.

Audience members lined up to ask questions about their favorite explosions, hardest experiments, future plans and fame.

Savage and Hyneman said fame happened very slowly, but it still surprised them when people approached them on the street to say hello. Savage, the more humorous of the two, said he used to sit on airplanes and watch people watching “MythBusters” on their mini television screens. He said he always wanted to walk up the aisle and lean into the person to say, “Well, do you have any questions?”

The pair said one of the hardest experiments was when they bungee-jumped for apples. After Hyneman jumped several times, he asked the expert at the top of the lift if jumping ever gets easier. Hyneman laughed as he said, “This expert, who has jumped hundreds of times, looked at me and said, ‘Nope, it gets worse every single time.’”

One audience member criticized Savage and Hyneman, asking why they were contributing to the death of wisdom and scientific rigor. The MythBusters understood his frustration and said they always understood their entertainment role. Hyneman specifically seemed to be frustrated with his entertainer role and never fully stepped into the television talent role.

Despite one audience member’s criticism, several of the audience members who asked questions said the MythBusters inspired them to pursue science.

Betty Noe, a third-semester English and French student, said she was not a science person, but has watched a few episodes of “MythBusters” over the years. She said that if she hadn’t taken a “passive” approach to science, as Hyneman and Savage explained, she might not have stuck to the humanities track.

Stephanie Bernier, a Marlborough resident, attended the show with her fiancé, a UConn student.

“I thought it was great and very informative,” Bernier said. “I thought the show was going to be a little more interactive, but it was still good.”


Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.