Mythbusters unites science with fun

Kari Byron explains how internships help obtain dream careers.

Ezgi Gulec and Jennifer Lauber

The Washburn Lecture Series, presented by WSGA and CAB, hosted MythBusters on the Washburn campus at 7p.m. Feb. 25.

Kari Byron and Tory Belleci, two co-host assistants from MythBusters, shared experiences from the show and answered questions. Tickets were limited but free of charge to students, faculty, staff and the public through the Student Activities and Greek Life office.

Tickets ran out days before the event, but those without tickets were allowed in after the seating of those with tickets. Lines formed in Memorial Union, where the event was held, long before the opening of doors at 6:30 p.m. 

The event started with a video showing highlights from the MythBusters show. CAB members hosted the event and introduced Byron and Belleci, taking turns asking them questions.  This was Byron and Belleci’s first visit to Topeka.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in special effects. But I also wanted to be a stuntman, and I also wanted to act,” said Belleci. “And so it’s weird how MythBusters allows me to do all three, but really badly.”

Byron says she was never really sure what she wanted to do while growing up, but was always very artistic and very curious. She liked building things, especially models. Byron is a trained sculpture and painter and began her work with the MythBusters as an intern.

After the CAB members asked their questions, audience members were also allowed to ask questions.

When asked about the single most rewarding factor of being a MythBuster, Belleci was quick to refer to his younger days. He laughed as he spoke about wishing he could go back to school and tell all his science teachers “ha ha” because he was the worst student ever. Teachers are always telling him how great the show is because it inspires kids and gets them excited about science.

“The fact that we are making a difference in the education world is very rewarding,” said Belleci.

Danielle Marsh, a junior elementary education major, loved the event and found them very entertaining.

“The reason why I even got through science or liked it was because of MythBusters. When I teach science to my kids, I want to make it fun and have them do experiments like MythBusters,” said Marsh.

When asked if they ever fear for their lives on the show, the audience roared as Belleci answered they do almost every day. They are often amazed that nobody gets seriously hurt or dies. Byron explained how they must fill out an insurance form before every experiement, the same protocol used for the “Jack Ass” movie.

“We generally don’t get that hurt. Some cuts and bruises and little stuff,” said Byron.

When asked whether MythBusters ever worried about doing experiments involving guns, Belleci explained that they try not to be too silly or take them lightly, but consider them as tools and part of their experiments.

Belleci also says the moments on MythBusters they love most are when they go into a moment expecting one result and are completely surprised by the actual result.

The myth about whether elephants are really afraid of mice, shown in millions of cartoons, is one example Belleci said. They performed the experiment in Africa where they placed a mouse under dung and used a remote control around wild elephants, who really did lose their minds.

“It just goes to show that cartoons are real,” Belleci said.

MythBusters has had over 300 episodes. They started having three myths per episode but now only have two per episode.

Byron said they don’t usually back out of a myth once they start one and tend to say yes, even if it’s a really bad myth. Belleci said that they don’t really think all the way through the process but to say no is really okay.

For people wanting a career similar to the MythBusters, the team explained how beneficial special effects and artistic degrees are. Byron says she knows of at least one college that offers a bachelor’s in energetic materials, which is basically a degree in ‘blowing stuff up.’

“I would say the closest thing you need to do in finding your dream career is find an internship. That’s how I started…getting to know somebody who is doing what you want to do.” said Byron.