Discovery Channel's Mythbusters has been on the air since 2003, and has rarely produced a bad episode, though admittedly the series improved markedly once the second team of three younger 'busters was formally introduced. That's a feat to be proud of. I know I caught occasional episodes over the years, and have devoured at least a few dozen episodes in the past few months alone.
This week they revisit Archimedes's Solar Ray, a myth that they have put to the test twice before. Though I can't recall the team tackling a myth thrice before (twice, yes), this comes at the special request of President Barack Obama, who guest stars in the episode. POTUS's theory is that the mistake made in the past is the lack of human element. Though hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have used actual people on small scale tests, their larger scale experiments were done by computer and mirrors mounted on a board. The President asks them to give it one more shot and report back to him. The episode is part of Discovery Communications's support for the current administration's STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) campaign.
Admittedly, the scenes featuring President Obama are a little cheesy. The series is no stranger to corniness, but usually that's done in the name of humor, whereas in this instance it's supposed to be more serious. In fact, it seems likely to me that the scene where Obama makes the request and the scene where the Mythbusters give him the results were probably done on the same day, and that slightly ruins the magic. However, everything outside of the White House is classic Mythbusters stuff, and as thoroughly enjoyable as most episodes. I won't ruin the results, but the guys seemed to be having an absolute blast staging the test with a group of 500 middle and high school students. Perhaps even more fun than the kids themselves.
The question is, was this worth the effort of revisiting the same thing for the third time? Probably not. To be honest, I would have rather liked to see something new. The night before I had watched the episode "Hidden Nasties", which featured a car being skipped across water, and I thought that was way cooler than seeing sun beams on a sail... again. However, I am all in favor of the STEM push, and Discovery and Mythbusters surely deserve credit for helping in something vital to America's future. As an educator myself, I may be biased in that regard.