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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Mythbusters' Brand Of Fake Science Takes OMSI

Posted by Alex Falcone on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Mythbusters is one of my favorite shows that I'm not on. OMSI is one of my favorite places to spend $28 to have children push me out of the way so they can play with the block crane when I WANTED TO PLAY WITH THE BLOCK CRANE. And now those two things have come together in a great new exhibit called "Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition."

[Full disclosure: OMSI gave me free pizza to try to influence my reporting and it worked. For the rest of this review please consider the source and how much he likes pizza.]

The Explosive Exhibition is in three parts. The first part is a bunch of actual props from the show. This is not science but is really, really exciting. They brought the robot shark! The robot shark is in Portland right now! You guys! Robot! Shark! There's also a machine-gun cross-bow, lacerated airplane, and (in a rare bad decision by the producers) a flatulence chair. There's also a slightly creepy display of the Mythbuster's clothes.

Even without a head, Kari is still really hot.
  • Even without a head, Carry is still really hot.

Part 2 of the exhibit is a bunch of "myths" that you test. This part is really well designed and thoroughly fun. (A note on the myths: "Mythbusters" ran out of actual myths to test in like season four. Most of what they test are YouTube videos, movie scenes, and stuff they make up. "There's this myth that if you fill a corvette with strippers and dynamite and drive it off a cliff nothing bad will happen. Let's try it in the small scale!" The exhibition has a couple really good actual myths and at least one BS one.) You can test whether walking/running in the rain gets you wetter (or you can watch people do it because you just came in out of the rain and don't feel like getting rained on indoors), whether fake-toast always lands fake-butter-side down, whether you can pull a table cloth out from under dishes without breaking them, and more. It's pretty great, although admittedly I was at a mostly-adult press event. Had it been overrun with children it would have been less fun. I advise you go to an After Dark event if at all possible.

A toast slapper. Other uses are numerous but ill advised.
  • A toast slapper. Other uses are numerous but ill advised.

***After the jump, they shoot me with a paintball***

Part 3 is a live demonstration. [Full disclosure: I'm friends with a couple of the actors performing this demonstration but since they didn't give me pizza I will review them impartially.] Here, two be-t-shirted deputy Mythbusters test whether a human can dodge a paint ball using the scientific method. (A note about the science: As an adult, you will be underwhelmed by the science which begins and ends at a second grade level. Granted, that's the aim of the museum, but it's also accurate to the TV show. Mythbusters pretends to be scientific, but really isn't. Let's not lie to ourselves; the show is about blowing stuff up, not learning things [see the corvette full of strippers and dynamite myth above]. And that's fine.)

I got to participate in the demonstration and I won the reflexes challenge.

Blazingly fast buzzer pushing.
  • I may have taken this more seriously than the other people.

The presenter asked me if I was willing to try to dodge a paintball. Yes I was. A kid in the audience yelled, "You are the bravest person ever!"

The bravest person ever prepares to be shot at.
  • The bravest person ever prepares to be shot at.

I won't tell you how it ends, just that I didn't let that kid down.

My two main irritation points for the exhibition were (1) a shocking lack of explosions for an "explosive exhibition." There was a Mentos/Coke demonstration every two hours that I didn't catch and some kind of liquid nitrogen explosion that was broken when I was there. Even had I seen both, that's not a lot of explosions for something that's ¼ of the name.

(2) is the photo booth. Upon entering, everybody is photographed in front a green screen and then, on the way out, sold photos of you in front of something that wasn't actually there. It's so stupid. A green screen could be anything anywhere, so it doesn't capture your time with the Mythbusters. In the lobby there's a ROBOT SHARK. Take pictures with the robot shark, and I'd happily buy one. Superimpose me over a robot shark and I could care less.

But those are small complaints. Take your kids, take somebody else's kids, kidnap some kids who love Mythbusters, or just go without kids. It's a good time.

"MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition" is open now through Sunday, May 5, 2013. Admission for adults is $18; youth (3-13) and seniors (63+), $13; member adults, $5; member youth/senior, $3.

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