For nearly 11 years, the delightfully mad scientists of the Discovery series "MythBusters" have entertained audiences with wacky experiments that usually involve blowing something up on the way to pronouncing a hypothesis confirmed, plausible or busted. "Don't try this at home" disclaimers aside, it's a concept that lends itself beautifully to hands-on participation, which is why "MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition" is so much fun.
Now at the Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana, California, through Sept. 7 and opening at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Texas on Oct. 11 on a tour that will visit 15 cities in the U.S. and Canada, the exhibition brings the TV show to life with interactive experiments.
"MythBusters" fans of all ages will find familiar artifacts on display that include props, contraptions, clothes worn by hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman and their team, Tory Belleci, Grant Imahara and Kari Byron, and lots of remnants from explosions. Among the 60-plus artifacts are a canoe and an airplane made of duct tape, Buster the dummy, and a 20-foot, 400-pound mechanical shark, its teeth covered in plastic to prevent kids who stick their heads its mouth from getting hurt.
Many of the show's most popular experiments are replicated with an interactive element. Visitors can try to remove a tablecloth without disturbing the place setting, find out what it's like to drive blind, and in one of the most popular attractions, see if they get wetter walking or running through a rain tunnel. In time tests, kids enter a phone booth to see how fast they can put on a superhero costume or dodge a laser light "bullet." Other popular myths put to the test involve which side a dropped buttered toast will land on and whether a remote-controlled airplane will fly when attached to a conveyer belt.
Several times an hour, visitors are treated to a live demonstration of an experiment that posits, "Is it possible to dodge a paintball?" Audience volunteers test variables of distance and reaction time to sound and light signals in a 10-minute show. Sarah Melvin, a Discovery Cube employee and big MythBusters fan who trained specifically to co-host the demo, says it never gets old. "It's really fun for me. I love seeing kids' reactions, and that they learn something," she says.
General admission to the Discovery Cube costs $16.95 for adults and $12.95 for seniors and children 3-14 (which includes other exhibits like eco-friendly, interactive displays on recycling and shopping) plus $5-$10 for adult and senior entry to MythBusters.
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