The first thing the Mythbusters say before starting an experiment on their television show is, "Don't try this at home." Fans of the show will finally have an opportunity to disregard this advice and try their favorite experiments at Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition. The interactive exhibition opens this weekend at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where guests will have the opportunity to test the myths themselves. Westword got a sneak preview of the exhibition; here's what we saw:
The journey into mythbusting begins with an exhibition of props from the show -- like the animatronic shark they used to test whether it's possible to poke a shark in the eye while being thrashed in its jaws -- and an introduction video. "If you're not a huge fan of the show, that's okay. You can still come and see the exhibit and have the same experience," says Charlotte Hurley, public relations manager at the museum. "The video and this room are kind of meant to bring those who don't know about the Mythbusters up to speed so everyone is at the same level as you go through the exhibit."
Next is the Blueprint Room, which showcases the process the Mythbusters go through before trying to bust a myth. The hosts of the show, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, are well-known for their work in special effects, and explosions are a staple on the show. But the exhibition tries to show the importance of scientific experiments. "One thing that people sometimes misunderstand about the Mythbusters is that they think that they're just out to blow things up, and they do blow a lot of things up, but a big part of what they do is they investigate things scientifically," says Brian Hostetler, educator and coordinator at DMNS. "They're really thinking about the whole process, they're eliminating variables, they're testing new variables, they're trying out a bunch of different ways to make the myth work."
Past the Blueprint Room, the fun begins. Visitors get to become Mythbusters and try out various experiments. "For me, this is what really makes this a crazy exciting exhibit, is the ability to do stuff," Hostetler continues. "It's not just looking at the props. Really the excitement for me is visitors getting into this area and getting to experiment and go through the scientific process, and play, and try different things."
One of the first experiments is Big Bad Wolf, where visitors can build structures out of blocks of different weights, representing straw, sticks and brick. Then the structures go in front of a vent that blows a gust of air. "Either your structure will stand, if you built it really well, or it will fall down. Three quarters of the people who try this, on the first try they fall down," Holstetler says. "But what we want is people not to be like, 'Oh, it fell down,' and then move on to the next experiment. We want it to fall down and then try it again."
Bound to be the main attraction is Running in the Rain, mainly because in this area, it's actually raining indoors. The experiment aims to test whether a person gets wetter when running or walking through the rain. The rain water contains a chemical dye -- which isn't harmful to clothes or skin -- that can be seen under a UV light. After running or walking through the rain, visitors step into a black light area to see how many raindrops they collected. "That's a fun one," Hostetler says. "We're going to get a lot of people that will want to experiment with that a lot."
Another likely candidate for crowd-favorite is Tablecloth Chaos, testing whether it's possible to pull a tablecloth from under a set of dishes. (I tried this one myself and failed miserably the first time. But with some help from Holstetler, I eventually did it. I won't tell you the secret.) "We are fully expecting that at some point guests are going to want to stack every dish we have on one table and try it," he says.
Other experiments include holding on to a ledge for as long as possible, seeing whether toast always falls butter -side down, sitting on a swing held up by interlocked phone books and testing whether a model airplane can take off from a moving conveyor belt.
There will also be a live show, where visitors can participate in busting yet another myth: Can you dodge a paintball? The show will run every twenty minutes throughout the entire day. "The point of the show is to kind of walk visitors through that scientific process that we use all over in the exhibit," Hostetler says. "We fire a paintball at you -- these are moving at about 250 ft per second, which is about 170 miles and hour when they fire them. And when they fire, you have about 0.2 seconds to get out of the way. We build in the delay, and if you try it multiple times, you'll eventually be successful."
The exhibition ends with a section where guests can submit a myth that they would like to see busted on the television show. All the submissions will be reviewed by the producers of the show.
The exhibition opens Friday, October 11 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and runs through January 5. Tickets, which will be for timed-entry, are $22 for adults and $16 for kids; advance reservations are recommended. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the museum website.
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