I attended the annual Skeptics gathering The Amazing Meeting last month and one of the speakers was none other than Adam Savage from the Mythbusters television show. He happened to mention that he loves interacting with fans and that he is not yet inundated with emails so I decided to increase his inbox by one and get him to answer a few questions for me to share with you all. So here is my first interview with a Major Star and all round nice guy:
[Scepticon] I was at your talk at TAM6 and so have the pleasure of saying you signed my balls, how did it come about that you had hundreds of ping pong balls to give out and what’s the significance?
[AdamSavage] We raised a boat from the bottom of the ocean with about 20000 of them.
[S] I was excited to see you at TAM6, were there any attendees that got your fanboy heart pumping?
[A.S] Well Randi of course. He’s my friggin’ hero.
[S] You revealed something of your inner nature during your talk, have you always been so detail oriented or is this a trait that has developed because of your professional model making?
[A.S] I have not always been so detail oriented. I had to get into the story of what I was building before I understood how to take the time to get everything right.
[S] Is there anything you’ve done in your professional life that you thought after the fact “That was REALLY stupid”?
[A.S] Every day. Seriously.
[S] Have you ever considered doing creationist myths on the show? Like fitting all animals into one boat and the Grand Canyon being formed by a single catastrophic event?
[A.S] Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to tackle some kooky beliefs, like the fact that the earth is 6k years old, it falls under the rubric of “ooogie boogie”, i.e. crop circles and the like. We won’t waste the time to fruitlessly prove a negative.
[S] Do you think there are any topics that you shouldn’t tackle on the show, either for political, moral/ethical reasons?
[A.S] Not for those reasons alone no. There are tons of things we won’t tackle for a variety of reasons. Some are a combination of the above. We also work for a large corporation. There are realities to that model which we must remain sensitive to.
[S] You’ve said that you’d like to be able to cover evolution in some way on the show, are you familiar with Dr Richard Lenski’s work on observing the evolution of novel traits in bacteria?
[A.S] I am.
As for whether we’d do that, see above.
[S] You have said that one of the things you’re most proud of on the show is the elegant science. Is there a field of science that you find particularly fascinating?
[A.S] I’m proud of our methodology. And elegant methodologies can be found in EVERY branch of science. I’m partial to the physical sciences, but not being an expert, my opinion must be taken with a grain of salt.
[S] I saw recently that the Mentos/Diet coke reaction was studied by a group of physics students, how does it feel to see one of your projects more rigorously studied like this?
[S] I have heard it said that you and Jamie are not friends and don’t hang out, the same is said of Penn and Teller. Do you think this is the key to a successful long term professional partnership?
It certainly helps. So does a relationship made stronger by contrast and based on a powerful mutual respect.
[S] I saw you on CSI with Jamie, what was up with that?
[A.S] We love them. They love us. They actually borrowed one of our experiments on an earlier show. An exploding truck tire beheading someone. Anyway, I called their writer’s room to express my enthusiasm and they responded by putting us into a show! We had a blast. Everyone was incredibly nice.
[S] You have a full suit of storm trooper armour, that’s really cool, where does someone get one of those?
[A.S] Geeks on the web.
[S] Is there any question that you are just dying to get asked in one of these interviews that no-one ever does?
[A.S] That’s a great question. Honestly no. I get great questions all the time.
I would like to thank Adam for taking a few minutes away from his busy schedule and his family to answer these questions for me, I very much appreciate it.
Adam’s talk covered his creation of a Dodo skeleton and his quest to make the perfect replica Maltese Falcon, it was both inspiring and illuminating and I’m glad to have been given a guided tour of Adam’s psyche. For a fantastic audio interview with Adam live from TAM6 see Skepticality Episode #80 which also includes an interview with the always entertaining Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
This experience has been amazing and it makes me think that I might try to get interviews going with other skeptical and scientific big names. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions of who I should try next.