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Smash Lab - Not good

January 2008

Discovery channel has a new show called "Smash Lab" that's in the same genre as "Mythbusters". Watched what I think is the first episode on the DVR tonight and I'm highly disappointed. The tag lines in one of their ads is that you can tell your friends you are watching it for the science, but we know why you are really watching it. The implication being that the real reason is to see all the stuff that gets blown up, smashed or otherwise destroyed that you see in the underlying video. The problem here is that their science is poor. In the episode I watched, the cast were testing two methods to see if aerated concrete could be helpful in preventing cars from traveling across a highway median into oncoming traffic. The first thing they did was to gather some control data where they rammed one car at 60 miles an hour into five other stationary ones to simulate a highway crash. Big problem here is that unless it's gridlocked on the other side (which is not what they said they were testing) the cars on the other side of the road would be moving as well. At another point, they were trying to see if a bed of the concrete would crumble enough underneath a car to slow it down before it entered oncoming traffic. In their original setup they defined the average highway median as being about six feet. For their aerated concrete bed though, they had what I'm guessing was about 150 feet. Even crossing at an angle this is way more than they originally defined. Not to mention that when the car shot all the way through it, they thought that it was maybe because it was too light so they decided to use a bus. Once again, moving away from the original purpose of keeping a CAR from crossing into oncoming traffic. There were a few other things too, but you get the idea. All this doesn't even touch on the over-intense, suspenseful feeling they try to get going including some thumping heart-beat background music when they are building up to test. I'm all about showing neat sides of science, but when it feels like an over acted nickelodeon show and they present crappy science, that's a disservice to just about everybody.

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