In which a show devoted to careful testing of dangerous hypotheses hosts a guy who secured hundreds of billions of dollars for “shovel-ready projects” before first finding out whether they exist. Perfect.
My proposed experiment: See if it’s possible to completely explode a once-in-a-lifetime Democratic congressional majority. By December 8, I’m guessing that one will be confirmed.
In an episode of “Mythbusters” on the Discovery Channel to be shown on Dec. 8, President Obama will help determine whether the Greek scientist Archimedes really set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun…
“Did Greek scientist and polymath Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun?” a press release for the show asks. “Will Adam and Jamie be able to pull this off, or will they have to report back to the president that they failed?”
Producers of the television series are not saying exactly how Mr. Obama will help prove — or disprove — that myth. But the first presidential appearance is intended to help spur interest in math and science as part of the White House effort to increase American competitiveness in those subjects.
Obviously we’re in for some hammy Oval Office vignette where he deputizes them for a secret military project or whatever to develop the Archimedes death ray. As fun as it is to goof on him about it, though, I think it’s actually a cute idea. There’s nothing on TV that I’ve ever seen that makes science as compulsively watchable as “Mythbusters”; a presidential cameo and the media buzz that follows it is a low-cost way to get families who’ve never seen it to tune in, which will hopefully start some mathematically inclined young minds churning. If he’s going to be overexposed, at least let it be for a good cause. This is.
The death ray’s a good choice too for an episode like this since the idea of it is sensational enough to hold kids’ attention. Here’s video of Mythbusters’ first attempt to build one a few years ago. Skip ahead to 1:40 for the segment.