Adam Whitney Savage is an American industrial design and special effects designer/fabricator, actor, educator, and television personality, formerly known as co-host of the Discovery Channel television series MythBusters and Unchained Reaction.
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EDIT: It's now 10:30 am PT and I have to shoot a few pick-ups, then I have some VO. But I'll keep checking in here and answering your questions throughout the day today. So keep them coming!
Hello again, Reddit! I am unemployed explosives expert Adam Savage, maker, editor-in-chief of Tested.com and former host of MythBusters. It's hard to believe, but MythBusters stopped filming just over a YEAR ago (I know, right?). I wasn't sure how things were going to go once the series ended, but between filming with Tested and helping out the White House on maker initiatives, it turns out that I'm just as busy as ever. If not more so. thankfully, I'm still having a lot of fun.
But enough about me. Well, this whole thing is about me, I guess. But it's time to answer questions. Ask me anything!
Your comment on praying to the patron saint of ballistics has been immortalized as a quote in Sid Meier's Civilization 6. Any comment on that? http://i.imgur.com/ngfeK4n.jpg
EDIT: Fixed link.
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO WORK WITH SIMONE GIERTZ?
Somebody else than Simone 😎
She's a force of nature. Love her and her output. She's just as nice as you hope she is.
Your questions are all so good. I'm typing as fast as I can!!!
You've inspired a lot of young people, myself included, to really delve into science and the scientific method, so thank you for helping me discover a passion, first of all!
If you had to add one person (dead or alive) to the Mythbusters team, who do you think would be best suited for the job?
You recently announced a joint show with Michael from VSauce. How did this venture come about, why did you choose to do it, and what are you most excited about with that venture?
I love live shows. I love touring and I love interacting with a live audience. There's stuff that happens in a room with people around that is genuinely electric. Jamie was done touring at the end of 2015, and Michael Stevens and I were mutual fans and started discussing it and it seemed like a natural. Magician Michael Weber, an incredible magic designer and writer is our director.
Hey, Adam! What are your essential cheap tools that everyone should own, and what are some that you feel need to be higher quality in order to be worth bothering with?
Great question! Everyone should have a multi tool. Everyone should have something akin to the iFixit bit kit (to be able to take apart anything).
Tools that are shit until you spend $:
Air powered rivet gun. Don't waste your time on the $30.00 one.
Nippers: go ahead and invest in a set of Knipex nippers, the last pair you'll ever need.
Hi Mr. Savage, and greetings from Iceland. As some here surely know, the 'Mythbusters B-Team' has been up to no good and is due for a hopefully spectacular opening with their new show 'White Rabbit Project' on Netflix in just a few days. Have you been involved in any way with the project, even if just in an advisory role? Will we be getting a podcast about the show on tested.com? Are you or Jamie gueststarring in any of the episodes? Thanks for your time, and keep up the great work.
We aren't in any of KG&T's show. I really hope they're successful as all getout. Can't wait to watch it.
Hey Adam! How are you doing today?
Well it was a bit of a rush to start but I'm ok now. I got to the shop a little early and sorted tools so now I feel normal.
Thanks for asking
Hey Adam! What is a Life Pro-Tip you'd like to give to dudes all over the world?
Talk less, listen more. Mansplain much less.
I have been tasked with creating a makerspace in a library. My question is, with the high number of maker activities going on nearby, how do I make the new space useful and not redundant?
I work in a county with a population of about 450,000. There are already 8 makerspaces, 2 STEM coordinating organizations, a museum of science, and many specialized STEM initiatives in the area. We are 3 miles from the nearest space and 4.5 miles from the next nearest. It's a terrific environment. However, I am struggling to figure out how to serve the needs of the community and draw people in, when a lot of the needs are being addressed and there are already a sea of options.
I have considered developing services for the makerspaces but would appreciate a model if you (or anyone) know of one (I am eagerly eating up news from Nation of Makers). As always, we are constricted by space and staff time.
Make sure you have some sewing machines! Everyone should learn how to sew. It's liberating. Also leatherwork has a low cost of entry and high reward for effort.
As for models, that is exactly what the Nation of Makers (I'm a board member)is about: sharing playbooks and models that work!
More on that soon!
I want to start off by thanking you, Mythbusters was a huge part of my childhood and it introduced me into the wonderful world of engineering. It helped me decide that I wanted to pursue a career in civil engineering, and now in my third year as a CE student I couldn't be happier with my decision. So thank you so much for that, and also for participating in this AMA today!
So my question for you is, is there any myth that you wanted to do but didn't have the right technology? If so, do you think it'll ever be possible to test it?
I've started tweeting myths I wish I could have gotten to. Under the hashtag #mythsiwouldstillliketotest. Like the roomba that went over someone's dog's poop and covered THE WHOLE HOUSE WITH A POOPOCALYPSE. We would totally have tested which type of stool would yield the worst scenario. Also cat vomit.
Like everybody else, I love tested and the work you're doing to jump start Making. I'm a maker of music (or noise...) and I as wondering who you listen to on your drive to the shop or while you're working or just to decompress? Thanks for being such a huge inspiration to me!
I also can't get enough of Justin Timberlake's song "Mirrors".
Such good pop!!
My kids make fun of me and say I have the musical taste of a 14 year old girl. I'm ok with that.
I'm about to take my last physics test of the semester. Any words of advice?
Can we get a hint or two as to what we can expect from your Brain Candy tour?
A two hour bombastic variety show using all the tools of the theater and stage magic to illustrate cool science, hosted by a pair of better-than-average explainers. With craptons of audience participation. I can't WAIT to hit the road. We're writing it right now and it's awesome.
In-N-Out or Five Guys or something completely different?
Favorite burger is a Jardiniere in San Francisco (the owner, Traci Des Jardins is a friend so clear conflict of interest on my part) and lately she's been serving the Impossible Burger (all plant proteins!) which is INSANELY DELICIOUS. Serious. They serve it at the bar. Go try one.
Do you still get to hang out with Jamie?
I don't see Jamie much since we stopped filming. But we still do appearances together on occasion; we did one in Connecticut last this month.
Otherwise, I'm really busy working on Tested.com and my new tour and Jamie is very happy being out of the public eye, working on secret projects with mysterious clients -- pretty much what you'd expect from the Hyneman.
He and I still talk about the same things when we're together: Tools we just found out about. Technologies were both interested in (drones, high torque motors) and projects we are working on. Been having that convo with him in one form or another since 1994.
Hi Adam! You talked on the Still Untitled podcast about saying, "I HAVE NO BUSINESS MAKING THINGS!!!" to yourself. Are there any specific methods you want to share about boosting your self-esteem or confidence, both short- and long-term?
Well, the first step is was to understand that it's just part of the mechanism. That is: that feeling shitty about doing what I do will occur from time to time but doesn't define me. Then it's about pushing past the lack of desire to do anything about it.
How does one do THAT? For me with any project there's a list of, let's say, 10 things at any given point I know should happen. When I'm feeling really down that might descend to only one thing. Or even half a thing. That is: I can't really see how to proceed and my usual intuition is in the toilet. So I gingerly proceed with that half-a-thing until things start to normalize. Or I go home and recoup and just be ok with not feeling awesome. That's ok too. It's a huge question you're actually asking and it's somewhat of a disservice for me to try and answer in a couple of paragraphs but that's what works for me. Hope it helps.
Hey adam! How is progress going on the martian suit?
Slowly. Sorry about that.
Hey Adam! I'm glad I got to catch this AMA!
I'm a pretty big fan of anime and manga, and I've been presenting (game shows and discussion) at PA conventions for about five years now. I think it's super cool to see celebrities and public figures from the US show an interest in that kind of stuff (especially positive role models like yourself)!
My question is this: what is your favorite anime and why?
I've seen on your twitter and Facebook that you're a fan of Miyazaki, but I've always wondered if there was more!
Thanks so much for being so cool!
I love Akira. Metropolis. Ghost in the Shell.
Did you want to make things for a living as a kid? (I mean was that the job you had in mind back then?)
Oh yes. first job I wanted was to design for Lego. I was 8
Hi Adam, I’ve been struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome for the past three years, and your Tested builds and videos, as well as your TED talks, have inspired me to develop new interests in making and exploring. Even though I am physically limited by my illness, your creativity is electric and you have instilled in me a deep sense of hope and excitement for learning despite my current situation. Thank you for what you do.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy in myself, that I am not well-versed in art, cinema, culture, etc. On your podcast you have talked about giving your children a well-rounded film education and you have mentioned the process you went through as a teenager discovering new things. To a 19 year old just entering adulthood, what advice do you have? What are some books, films, and experiences that set you on the path of exploration?
You've got more time than youthink. I'm glad you find solace and inspiration in my videos. Keep paying attention to the stuff you find yourself obsessed with. Read everything. At your age I was plowing through Vonnegut, Camus, Ellison, LeGuin, Heinlein, Kafka, Kundera, Marquez, Stanislaw Lem and others.
By the way, THIS is what I'm wearing to do this AMA right now. It is SO cold in my shop. https://twitter.com/donttrythis/status/804388890425442304
How was it working for Micheal Stevens?
Love working with Michael. He talks just like he does in the videos, so that when he's handing you a coffee or talking over lunch, you half expect to do a VERY DEEP DIVE into what it's all about.
I love the collaboration.
Can't remember if you've ever answered this before but have you ever worked with the "slow-mo guys"? They've dona a lot of really cool stuff filming things in super slow motion. The company they are apart of is also doing a really cool series called immersion, trying out things from video games in real life and seeing how easy/difficult they are.
I haven't yet, but I love their work. Hoping to do something with them some day.
I loved the collaboration between you and Alton Brown, since you two were literally my childhood role-models. How was it working with him?
Alton is the best. He's hilarious. He's just as funny as you want and a bit darker.
What's in your CD Player/MP3 player/Music Device today?
Listening to a lot of the Milk Carton Kids and Decemberists. Also Sara Bareilles.
What was the scariest thing you ever did on Mythbusters?
The second Underwater Car stsunt
I'm a huge fan. The idea of writing something you might actually see is slightly intimidating. Thank you for the enthusiasm you bring to all of your projects and all of the knowledge that you have shared with the maker community through Tested.
My question is how do you balance your creative projects when you aren't working or on tour with being a husband and father?
My wife and I have a 18 month old. She has a busy schedule do to her career, so we try to all be together whenever she is free. On weekends when she has work, I watch our son. While I love spending time with both of them, I also can't help but feel like I don't have time for many creative projects. I know as my son gets older I can start getting him involved in projects with me, but for now I feel like my workshop is gathering dust.
Yeah, that happens. The balance between work and home and family is really tough. It gets easier when the kids get older to be sure. For me, sample size of 1, I find it works best when I don't think of the shop as "stealing time". The consciousness around the shop work is vital to maintaining the balance.
Hey Adam, What do you miss most about Mythbusters?
My crew! And also the driving myths.
On Still Untitled you mentioned the idea for Adam's Bookclub. Maybe you meant this as a joke, but I am legit excited for this idea. Mainly because your interests are interesting to me and your recommendations have never failed me. Is there a chance this will become something for real?
I just figured out how I want to do the Adam Savage Book Club and details will be coming soon!!
Dear Mr Savage af
Is there any way someone can make a hobby/job out of explosives without a bunch of qualifications and such?
Now before anyone thinks I'm mental and/or a terrorist, I'm a tinkerer. I like building stuff, dissasembling stuff, reverse engineering stuff and inventing stuff. Ever since I put a can of hairspray on a bonfire and got a huge fireball I've also been intrigued by explosives. Now obviously I don't make bombs in my spare time, closest I got was took the innards of a bunch of boxes of fun snaps, put them in a sandwich bag and sealed it. That made a loud bang.
I'd love to play with bombs and seeing what is and isn't explosive, responsibly of course, and if there's any hobbies surrounding bombmaking.
So is there any avenues I can take without retraining that you know of, or am I already on a watch list by the grace of this comment?
Yours most faithfully
Soz im drunk
This is the best.
Homeland security is on it's way.
I am looking to get into creating/making, but over the years I've been doing things that could fit under making, or hobbyism, I've had tons of fun, but never really gotten all that good at anything or creative enough to come up with something really undone before. Now that my two daughters are getting older (three and six) and have both been to the NY Maker Faire, and love science and making things and such, I'm looking to get back in. What kind of resources can you recommend to a 37 year old father that can also potentially be useful in some way to the girls? We do have a Pi, and some of the "toy" making/enginnering stuff.
CARDBOARD! You can make literally anything out of cardboard. Ask them their ideal costume and help them make it so!
How adorable is Norm's puppy? And can you post more pictures of him?
Norm and Danica's puppy Ripley is the cute singularity.
Hello from the Rocket City, Adam!
With such a hectic life from the traveling and constantly being pulled in several directions, how do you find a good balance of home and work? The desire to have a strong home life and a successful work life can be so demanding, what are some tips for people to help keep a proper balance?
During your Tested video "Adam Savage's One Day Builds: NASA Spacesuit Parts!" a few mistakes happened during your build, but what you said at the end of the video really hit home with me. (Video Link: https://youtu.be/7JrCejRYGAM?t=55m31s)
You discussed a maker's "slump" and how it can truly rattle you to the core. I wanted to thank you for those kind words as I myself have been in that position- but it's taken years to realize that it's simply ok to mess up and I'm not a failure haha! Thank you for showing me that these things happen to the best of us, and it's all about moving forward <3
I love the videos we've been putting out lately more than ever (joey's editing and camera work!) and I'm so glad that coda resonated. it's really important to share with each other our uncertainty and ambivalence when it occurs. The impostor complex happens to all of us all the time.
I see that you're a Hayao Miyazaki fan from some of your comic-con cosplay (No-Face and Totoro). Which Miyazaki movie is your favorite?
Spirited Away. Holy shit I love that movie.
What's something about you that we don't know?
Thanks! I loved Mythbusters growing up and I can't wait to show it to my kids one day.
One of my all-time favorite movies is The Philadelphia Story.
Mr. Savage, are you going to Silicon Valley Comic Con next year?
YES! I'll be there. Can't wait.
Hi Adam! My 3 year old son is a humongous fan of yours. He's bright and very interested in science and engineering.
Christmas is coming and I was wondering what toys you had as a kid that helped foster your lifetime love of science. Or if there are any toys on the market today that you would recommend?
I recently discovered my college has it's own makerspace and club complete with 3D printers, a laser cutter, and a wood working shop. The only thing that it's missing is: makers!
What would be the best way to get people interested in a makerspace?
That's THE question! The best way is to show them obsessive builds by others. Wake that part of the brain up that says "I've always wanted X, maybe I could make it MYSELF!".
Also- sharing the build log/methods goes a long way to helping people understand that it's not beyond them to problem-solve.
Dear Adam Savage
Are you ever going to do a pepakura build like a suit halo Spartan armor or some iron man armor?
- Adam Shuttleworth
I love pepakura but I haven't tried it yet. I love the IM cardboard and foam builds.
Hey Adam! Im a big fan of your one day builds on tested. I think it's because I see a lot of myself in the way you work. One problem that I frequently have is getting caught up in the energy of building so much that organization goes completely out the window. Any tips for keeping the enthusiasm while also being organized?
It's a battle between present me and future me. Present me would like to go home without sweeping up. Future me knows that he'll thank past me for cleaning up and leaving the shop ready for the next morning. It's an ongoing conversation. I also LOVE organizing. I spend at least an hour a day doing it. even in my house if not in my shop.
Hi Adam! What is your favorite beer?
I don't drink anymore, but when I did, it was Sierra Nevada.
I often find my self working on multiple projects at once, sadly some end up on the shelf for a while. Does this happen to you? What do you do to alleviate it?
I have a whole wall of uncompleted projects. That's the nature of things. It's ok. I get to everything eventually. My Alien space suit took 10 years.
Hi Adam! Do you prefer Pepsi or Coke?
Mr. Savage, what is the feeling you get from blowing something up that you worked so hard building/creating for Mythbusters? What was the highest amount of explosives used (terms of poundage) on the show?
Last ep. 5001lbs of ANFO. Big boom
If you are editor-in-chief, wouldn't that count as a job?
You're right, but I like saying that I'm unemployed.
Hey Adam, longtime fan here.
My question is what are your recommendations on making things when you only have a small amount of desk space to work with. For something like building models it's enough space, but I'm wanting to get into airbrushing, and finish up a costume that requires more space than I have available. Any tips?
Quick edit: Been looking for a few resin kits around the internet for blade runner or DL-44's and can't seem to find many leads. Any recommended places to look?
I asked people to tweet their small makerspaces recently and we put up a gallery on tested:
Inspiring small spaces.
Have you ever worn Jamie's hat?
I've held it. That's enough for me.