Blowing Stuff Up for Science

The packed Marriott Atrium ballroom waited patiently for Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage to take the stage for the “M5: Blowing Stuff Up for Science” panel, Saturday at 5:30PM. The moderator urged the audience to cheer as loudly as possible for them after a teaser video for the next season of Mythbusters played. However, after some technical delays, Savage and Hyneman decided to take the stage without the video so as not to make us wait any longer.

The panel moderator started out with a few questions before opening it up to the audience Q&A. The first question dealt with how Savage and Hyneman met. It turns out that almost 20 years ago, Hyneman brought Savage in for an interview at M5 Industries. For a previous visual effects job, Savage had arrived with photos of things that he’d built, but for the M5 interview, he showed up with a case of things he’d actually built. Hyneman’s first impressions of Savage were that he was very quick, bright, and enthusiastic. “There’s something that happens when you meet someone of like kind…good makers of things get close to something and are faced with a problem, and you just sort of absorb it and internalize what you have to do to it to make it happen. Adam seemed to be one of those people…and so I hired him, and he became one of my best employees for quite a while,” Hyneman said.

When asked about his first impressions of Hyneman, Savage replied that he couldn’t believe that Hyneman was for real. “I was like, ‘Seriously, a beret?’” Savage said.

Because of the nature of the show, Savage and Hyneman frequently experience crazy and unusual things. One thing Savage said he never would have encountered if it wasn’t for Mythbusters was spraying a shirt with pheromones and asking women to smell him. He also revealed as a teaser that they tried to herd cats for the upcoming season of the show. Without spoiling it, Savage said that it is just as difficult as advertised.

Savage also talked about doing the Dukes of Hazard car jump. He was driving the follow car while Hyneman was steering the remote rig for the car that was actually jumping. As the stunt car hit the dirt ramp they’d built, Savage had to veer to the right. He looked over and realized that there is a car literally flying next to him. “It was just so much fun,” Savage said.

With all of the non-standard stuff they do, safety is a major concern, and they’ve learned some important lessons along the way, like the guy with the pyrotechnical license is not necessarily the guy with the knowledge. They told a story about blowing up a tree cannon at the end of the episode they were filming. Essentially, they ended up making a wooden pipe bomb. As it exploded and the pieces flew over their heads 300 feet way, the pyro guy said, “I did not see that coming.” After that was when Savage and Hyneman discovered the FBI and their pyrotechnics experts.

Even with all of the explosions and the stunts they do, Hyneman noted, “Neither of us are adrenaline junkies.” They take all the safety precautions that they do and consult with experts and insurance companies because they are “always about to push some damn button and something horrible is about to happen.”

Savage concluded the panel by thanking all of us for being great and welcoming him back for the third or fourth time and especially for welcoming Hyneman to his very first Dragon Con. “This is why we do what we do,” he said.

Author of the article

Maggie Birge-Caracappa

By day, Maggie Birge-Caracappa is the editorial director at a medical communications company in Yardley, PA. The rest of the time, Maggie sees to the needs of her kitty overlords; polices the grammar on all kinds of published material including signage, menus, and food packaging; and cuddles with her wife while watching her favorite shows (Killjoys, Game of Thrones, and Doctor Who among them). She continues to be far too excited to be working for the Daily Dragon. You can find Maggie at her blog, https://inmysize.org and on Twitter @inmysizeblog.

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