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June 25, 2009
Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage Named Honorary Sigma Xi Members
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - It's no secret that Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, hosts of the Mythbusters television series on the Discovery Channel, are never happier than when blowing up things. For their efforts in exploding (and sometimes confirming) popular myths and urban legends, they have been named honorary life members of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.
"Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage test popular myths through experiments that rely heavily on science and technology," said Sigma Xi Executive Director Jerome F. Baker. "Their television series has done much to bring science into the mainstream. We are delighted to recognize them for their outstanding work."
Hyneman and Savage will be formally inducted into the international honor society for research scientists and engineers during the 2009 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and International Research Conference in Houston, Tex., November 12-15.
Since 1983, 43 noted science advocates, science journalists and friends of research who have made important contributions to science but are not eligible for Sigma Xi membership have been elected honorary life members by the society's board of directors.
When it comes to urban legends, separating fact from fiction can be a tough job, but Hyneman and Savage have proven themselves equal to the task. Each week they take on three myths and use modern-day science to reveal the underlying truth.
They do more than explain whether something may be scientifically possible. Through trial and error, they actually demonstrate it.
Filming for the series is primarily based in the San Francisco area. Planning and some experimentation usually take place at the cast's workshops. Myths or tests involving explosives, firearms and vehicle collisions are relatively common.
By the end of each episode, each myth is rated Busted, Plausible or Confirmed. Candidate myths come from many sources, including the personal experiences of cast and crew, as well as fan suggestions.
After six years, Mythbusters remains one of Discovery Channel's highest rated shows, having tackled more than 550 myths and performed more than 2,500 experiments. Hyneman and Savage also travel the country to corporate events, museums, high schools and colleges, telling tales of their experiments, explosions and hijinks.
Jamie was raised in Indiana, where his father ran an apple orchard and his mother was a librarian. Early on, he exhibited an adventurous streak. Graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Russian, he decided to go to the Caribbean and work on a charter sailboat. Six months later he owned his own boat and started a charter diving business.
He next decided to try his hand at special effects. Within two years in the New York City area, Hyneman had worked on several feature films and dozens of commercials. He moved to the San Francisco bay area to get on the crew of some effects-intensive major feature films.
Over the years he worked on Robocop, Arachnophobia, Naked Lunch and numerous other films until he was hired to manage the Colossal Pictures model shop. After several years of involvement with Colossal, he took over the model shop when Colossal was forced to downsize during the dot com bust. This is how M5 Industries was born. Jamie evolved M5 into a successful, versatile effects business that specializes in problematic custom builds.
Over the years, he has had a hand in producing effects for more than 800 commercials, dozens of feature films and hundreds of prototypes. He holds several patents, numerous awards for effects projects and has kept a steady flow of R&D projects running at M5.
Hyneman lives in San Francisco with his wife of 20 years, who teaches science in the bay area.
Adam Savage was born in New York City, the child of a psychotherapist and a filmmaker/painter. Early in his career he worked as a projectionist, photo developer, graphic designer, animator, set designer, gallery owner, actor, sculptor and prop-maker. In the summer of 1990, he went to San Francisco and fell into its thriving theater scene, working for dozens of companies.
He welded, fooled with pneumatics, hydraulics and electronics and picked up some rudimentary machining techniques at Amorphic Robot Works, building all sorts of robots. He was also sculpting and exhibiting his work in shows around the country.
This quirky mix of artistic, theater-design and mechanical skills gained Adam a reputation for solving difficult mechanical set problems for theaters. And that eventually caught the eye of the special effects industry.
Savage started in commercials for clients as diverse as Sega, Coca-Cola, Nike, Burger King and Chevrolet. He later moved to George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, where he worked on Star Wars, Galaxy Quest, Space Cowboys, A.I. and Terminator 3, among others.
In the spring of 2002, his old boss Jamie Hyneman called to ask if he'd like to participate in a demo reel for a TV pilot -- a new show for the Discovery Channel. Savage lives in San Francisco with his wife, twin boys and "the best dog in the doggone world."
About Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society for research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters in North America and around the world. Over the years, more than 200 Sigma Xi members have won the Nobel Prize. In addition to publishing American Scientist magazine, the society sponsors a variety of programs that support and promote science and engineering education, research ethics, the public understanding of science and the health of the research enterprise.