Jamie Hyneman, probably one of the men most responsible over the last ten years for keeping science and scientific inquiry in the mainstream, is 58 today. Naturally, we celebrate with GIFs of explosions.
Arguably the show’s motto, but even if he weren’t blowing the hell out of random objects on TV for more than eleven years, he’d still be a fascinating guy. Leaving home at fourteen, he’s worked as a dive master, pet shop owner, tug boat captain, machinist, wilderness survival expert and animal wrangler, and he has his degree in Russian linguistics.
But he’s best known for his effects work. Starting on that classic of homoeroticism, Top Gun, Hyneman worked extensively in film, but more notably in ads. Like, for example, this overly aggressive 7-Up machine.
He first came to the attention of Discovery’s producers for Robot Wars. Hyneman and his future co-host Adam Savage built their robot Blendo out of a wok and a lawnmower engine, and it was so effective, it knocked chunks of other robots into the audience. It had to be retired not once, but twice, for this exact reason.
The original concept of Mythbusters was incredibly boring, and you can still see it in some early episodes: Peter Rees, of Beyond Production, pitched Discovery on a show that would recount urban legends. Discovery promptly rejected it, as they had another show with a similar concept in the works, so Rees redesigned it as a show where the elements of the stories would be scientifically tested. Hyneman auditioned mostly as a favor to Rees; they knew each other from previous work, and Hyneman has noted before he thought he was too boring to get the job.
And the rest, of course, is basic cable history. Mythbusters largely created a new subgenre of basic cable show; the show has multiple “tributes” ranging from The Deadliest Warrior to Man Vs. Cartoon. But none are quite as good as the original, which is still going strong. So, happy birthday, Mr. Hyneman, and we’re looking forward to whatever you blow up next season.