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Obama on 'MythBusters': Will he get to blow something up?

With President Obama on Mythbusters in December, the show will revisit a popular myth about the 'Archimedes death ray.'

By Staff writer / October 18, 2010

President Obama greets supporters as he arrives at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport on Sunday.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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President Obama is scheduled to appear on the December 8 episode of “MythBusters,” a Discovery Channel reality show. What’s up with that? Is Mr. Obama just trying to match Sarah Palin, who is getting her own show on Discovery-affiliated TLC?

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Well, maybe. But the stated point of Obama’s star turn with Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, and the rest of the “MythBuster” gang is to promote science and math education. Monday is science fair day at the White House – besides officially announcing his television appearance, Obama will play host to the winners of a range of science and math competitions, from the Intel Science and Engineering Fair to the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

“If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement too,” said the president last November.

Appearing on “MythBusters” probably is a pretty good way to get the attention of all the 9-to-14-year-olds in America who are interested in creating explosions with common household items. Which is pretty much all of them, when you get down to it.

If you’ve never seen it, MythBusters examines common legends, myths, or film stunts, and then rigs up actual experiments to see if they’re true – or "plausible," in the show's parlance. For instance, can you actually knock someone out of their socks? It turns out you can! But you have to hit them with the force of a tractor trailer going over the speed limit. (Don’t worry – they used a crash test dummy. They go through a lot of dummies.)

Can you pull the bars out of a jail cell using horses, like in old westerns? No, not unless the “horses” are actually bulldozers tied to the bars with heavy chains.

Obama is going to appear in an episode titled “Archimedes Solar Ray.” He’ll challenge Jamie and Adam to examine an ancient Greek legend that scientist Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun.

We can’t wait – will Obama wear a toga? Will he hold up a big magnifying glass and light fire to a sheet of poll numbers to show the gang how it’s done?

Fans of the show will remember that "Mythbusters" has addressed the Archimedes death ray before – in 2004 and 2006 – but perhaps the presidential visit is giving the topic new life.

Sadly there is no word yet on whether “MythBusters” will follow up its presidential coup with a politically themed episode. Think of the possibilities: Adam and Jamie could examine questions like this: Will "Obamacare" get between you and your doctor in the examining room? Is Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner’s tan natural? And so forth.

Got other political myths you’d like busted, or upheld? Or household explosion tips? Send them to us on Twitter.

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