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Issue Date: March 2007


Busted!


Shannon Jewitt
Does watching television really rot your brain?

For once, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, the hosts of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” aren’t trying to uncover the truth about this urban legend. “We’re being successful by putting some thought-provoking material on television,” says Hyneman. 
From investigating whether too many lights can set a Christmas tree ablaze or if tattoos can explode during an MRI, the show combines science and outrageous stunts. Now, the duo is taking its act to E.J. Thomas Hall on March 30 for a Q&A about their crazy antics and their crash-test dummy named Buster. So, which myth is their favorite? “It’s kind of like asking a parent which child is his favorite,” Hyneman says.
 
So since he couldn’t pick, we’ve selected three of our favorite stunts to see if they’re a bust or not.
 
The Myth: Can a man be lifted off the ground with balloons?
The Stunt: More than 6,000 helium-filled balloons were tied to a wooden seat and measured using a “lift meter” to see how much weight they could support.
The Result: Plausible. Savage achieves lift-off in Times Square. Actor Paul Newman even tests out the myth.
 
The Myth: Can someone survive being buried alive?
The Stunt: The duo constructed an aboveground grave, placed Hyneman inside and buried him with several tons of dirt.
The Result: Busted. He lasted only 30 minutes inside the coffin before on-site medics pulled him out because his heart rate and carbon monoxide levels significantly increased.
 
The Myth: Can a large jawbreaker become a potential bomb?
The Stunt: After building a replica of a mouth with the maximum bite force of 170 pounds, a jawbreaker was placed into a microwave and then into the mouth.

The Result: Confirmed. The temperature differential causes the inside layers to heat faster than the outer. The candy explodes, even hitting Savage with some heated fragments.

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