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Kari Byron – Host of Head Rush, MythBusters – Speaks with

September 15, 2010

Kari Byron - Host of MythBusters and Head Rush

If you’ve ever watched MythBusters and were convinced you’ve seen Dublin hills in the background, you’d be correct.  MythBusters has filmed many episodes in Dublin at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office bomb disposal range (the bomb squad is based in Dublin – another fun fact for the water cooler at work).  According to Sgt. JD Nelson, Public Information Officer and Bomb Technician for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office,  “We got connected with MythBusters about 6 years ago through retired FBI agent Frank Doyle who has appeared in many episodes.  MythBusters needed a place to do an experiment with explosives, we had a suitable bomb range and the rest is history. I’ve helped them with at least 25 episodes.  Every time that they come out I learn something new.  Their crew and staff are nothing but nice which is why we continue to work with them.”

Interested in learning more about Mythbusters’ long relationship with Dublin, reached out to Kari Byron, one of the hosts of Discovery Channel’s popular MythBusters and host of a new science-themed show Head Rush that debuted in August on the Science Channel (Head Rush is targeted at middle school-aged children).  Ms. Byron graciously agreed to a interview: I love the way MythBusters and Head Rush take key elements of the scientific method and make science fun – do you get feedback from teachers and scientists on how you are doing?

Kari Byron: That is an element of the show that I really hope will evolve.  I am anxious to involve teachers, parents and the science community in the development of Head Rush through feedback.

OD: I was reading an interview from a few years ago where you said: “You don’t have to have a thousand degrees to play with science: you just have to ask questions.”  Do you see yourself as helping break the stereotype of a scientist or engineer as the nerdy, uncool and typical kid?

KB: I am not a scientist.  I am just a curious person.  I would like to break the stereotype that you have to be nerdy to be interested in science; and also feature scientists and engineers that break that perception.

OD: I get the sense viewers only see the tip of the iceberg when watching MythBusters – how much preparation and research goes into a typical episode?

KB: You are definitely only seeing a small part of what goes into an episode.  We don’t fake the science.  Sometimes our testing and calibration of our rigs take days.  You only see the highlights.  From start to finish, research to editing, a myth takes 3-6 months to make air.

OD: I’ve recognized the hills of Dublin, California in the background of many Mythbusters episodes, and kids at our local schools are notified when MythBusters is filming.  What are some of your favorite explosions filmed at the Alameda County Sheriff Office’s bomb disposal range?

KB: There have been so many.  Sgt.  J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s office has become part of the MythBusters family after so many blasts.  Personally I loved the Creamer Cannon blast.  It wasn’t the most aggressive but definitely one of the most beautiful and surprising.

OD: How did you end up selecting Dublin as a home for many of your explosive episodes?

KB: We have some really good friends at the Sheriff’s department.

OD: MythBusters viewers are frequently reminded “kids – don’t try this at home”.  Have you ever been in a situation in MythBusters or your new show Head Rush where something went wrong that made your heart race?

KB: We have a stringent safety procedure.  Where things go wrong is usually in the simple things like hammering your thumb or tripping on something that you forgot to put away.

OD: I was reviewing your website and find your sculptures reminiscent of stop motion films like Coraline – almost as though your sculptures are frames cut out of an animated sequence.  Do think of sculpture that way?

KB: I never really thought about it that way.  That is a cool perspective.  I have always just been better sketching in 3-D than on paper.  I guess that says something about how my brain works.  🙂

OD: Do you think of yourself as an artist first, paying the bills with your TV jobs or are both worlds now equally important?

KB: These days I think of myself as a mom first.  That is the most important job I have ever had.

OD: I suspect many people believe art and science to be completely different worlds.  Is that true in your experience?

KB: Not at all.  Science is an art.  Both are a process of dissecting the world to better understand it.

OD: Finally, my ten year-old daughter wanted me to ask you where you went to college.  And I’ll add on to that question – what are the top 3 reasons you think kids should aspire to attend college after high school?

KB: I graduated from SFSU.  College taught me problem solving, time management, and gave me an expanded world view.  I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.

Kari Byron graduated Magna Cum Laude, May 1998 from San Francisco State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Sculpture.  Ms. Byron’s artwork can be viewed at

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