Dear Mythbusters,By Quenby Moone
November 11, 2010
Attn: Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, hosts of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel.
Hello. I’m writing in hopes that you can help me–not to bust a myth per se, but to figure out what to do with my six-year-old son now that he’s become addicted to Mythbusters.
“I need some alkaline metals,” he said. “For an experiment.”
“Alkaline metals. You know, like rubidium or potassium. Highly volatile.” He continued eating his pancakes.
I have a feeling that alkaline metals are tightly regulated minerals not packaged in your average starter science set.
“Here you go, Mom,” he said, handing back my iPhone over which he has far more mastery than myself. He made me a shopping list:
I’m pretty sure I can find a junked car, but I’m not sure where to acquire thermite, which my son informs me is “made of explosions.”
“It’s kind of like powdered dynamite, but more powerful,” he tells me. So why does he need both, I wonder?
“To explode the cars,” he says.
He’s using Lego’s. “I’m building a cargo robot so that I can haul stuff around. I need some supplies.”
“Won’t the Lego’s work?” I ask.
“That’s for the small scale experiments,” he says.
Oh. I see.
“Can I blow up the toilet?” he wonders. I can’t tell if he’s asking for permission or just idly pondering aloud, but I know this refers to the alkaline metals, which, when mixed with water make a charmingly concussive “Boom,” though, as I recall, they do not actually break the porcelain of the toilets which gave their lives for Mythbuster science.
Is there a school where he can learn to handle highly explosive material without shattering either our plumbing or himself? Are you offering internships to tiny wannabe Jamie’s and Adam’s? Is there a pilot program that teaches little pyro-technicians the safety skills needed to blow small appliances skyward? (Let’s start with toaster ovens, say, or hand-held mixers. Not the water heater which you blew straight out of a house. More like Modest Destruction 101.)
I would be obliged if you could steer him clear of toxic chemicals, or at least teach him to always wear his OSHA compliant mask. No bug bombs of death, if you please. I’m squeamish about radioactive material too, though you seem to work it into the show every now and then.
His obsessions were a little easier to navigate when he watched the photography show Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe. We just handed him a camera with the assurance we would go to Madagascar someday and take photographs of the endangered lemurs and chameleons dotting the island nation. But now he wants to build a shark cage, sink his own version of the Myth-tanic, and buy a small decommissioned plane upon which he can run “experiments.”
Luckily, he told me recently he’s got “fire-phobia” so it may be a while before his desires win the battle against his greater wisdom. But you planted a seed, Mythbusters. I fear when it germinates we’re going to raise Tory Belleci.
Any recommendations you may have in channeling his nascent Mythbusting gene into something which won’t demand extra insurance would be greatly appreciated.
Yours very truly,
P.S. My son just informed me that thermite is a compound made from iron oxide and aluminum powder. This sounds easy to acquire; please tell me that he doesn’t already know how to cook up the very thing that torched the Hindenburg. Please.