One of the great assets of satellite TV is its ability to educate at the same time it entertains, using its power as a visual medium to transmit information that would otherwise be left to the imagination. One successful show using this formula is Mythbusters, a show hosted by Hollywood special effects professionals that uses science to investigate commonly held perceptions about the natural and man-made world as well as various urban legends and urban myths that continue to persist in American and world culture.

The show has been on television for about eight years now, giving the special effects team and their assistants plenty of opportunities to challenge conventional scientific and cultural wisdom. Their tests have ranged from the silly (can cockroaches actually survive nuclear blasts?) to tests which may actually have significant impacts on our day to day behavior (can you really blow up a gas station by making a call on your cell phone at the pump?). It turns out that it’s highly unlikely that cockroaches would survive a nuclear blast, as the Mythbusters team found out by irradiating several of the insects, although they still do seem equipped to outlive the human race in the case of a nuclear holocaust. And, it turns out that according to the Mythbusters, fears about blowing up gas stations using cell phones are highly overstated.

There is some criticism over whether the Mythbusters’ methods are really scientific in nature. While it’s doubtful anyone is going to be writing a physics or materials engineering paper based on the results of a Mythbusters episode, the team does seem to take reasonable precautions to carefully show how they arrive at their results, and ensure that their tests are performed transparently so that the results can be duplicated. However, the producers of the show, as well as its stars, caution that they are professionals in the use of explosives, chemicals, and other items they use to test the myths on the show, and warn that duplicating their results should not be attempted at home. That said, on several occasions the Mythbusters team has revisited myths when fans of the show have stated on the Internet or elsewhere that there have been methodological flaws in the Mythbusters’ previous attempts to discredit various urban legends.

The Mythbusters, despite the show’s name, have helped to give scientific credence to a number of ideas and concepts once thought questionable. For example, they found that certain hunting rifles, when held improperly, can cause fingers to be severed due to gases escaping from the hunting rifle. Fans of gore can see every detail of fingers being blown off the prosthetic hands the Mythbusters created using a satellite TV service. The Mythbusters have also tested whether a car can still drive after being used to bust open a locked steel fence, and found this action movie cliche was plausible. Therefore, it seems that some of the craziest things we see in movies, and hear about in real life, many not be the myths we once thought them to be.

You can visit www.DirectStarTV.com to find out about satellite TV packages you can use to catch Mythbusters and other shows. There are directv packages with included DVR as well as HD packages of all kinds.

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