One thing that Hyneman has learnt from working on the show is that even the least scientific-sounding experiments can be astounding.
During a test they casually conducted to see if elephants are indeed afraid of mice, as people commonly believe, the Mythbusters team was completely “shocked” about the results.
Hyneman recalls: “We were at a game reserve where we knew elephants would cross a certain path. So we hollowed out a ball of elephant dung, which is quite large, and put one very unhappy mouse in there, tied a piece of monofilament to the dung and put it on the path.
“When the elephant came by, we yanked the string, and the mouse was exposed, and we thought the elephant wouldn’t even notice it and were just hoping that it wouldn’t step on the poor mouse. But what happened was practically like a cartoon, where the elephant came screeching to a stop and seemed almost to tiptoe around the mouse. Our jaws dropped.”
The team then tried again with another ball of dung without a mouse “in case the elephant was just started by animated dung”, but the animal ignored it.
“It’s not science if its not repeatable, so we did the same thing with the dung with another mouse and another elephant, and the exact same thing happened. So even a small story like that without any explosives or chemicals or anything, turned out to be one of our favourite, most surprising kind of things we’ve ever done.”
I love science, actual science, with the repetition. Although I can talk about cosmological stuff with great affection as well.