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The Mythbusters Explain How Superman Shaves, Try to One-Up Bill Nye

The Mythbusters' theory on how Superman shaves might be a little far-fetched, but I still had a great time talking with them about it.


In 2003 my mother said, “There’s this new show you’d probably like. It’s got people doing science and explosions to test myths.” She was of course talking about Mythbusters, and she was absolutely right about my liking it. I love it when people do science and explosions, and I’m pretty confident most folks that read Geekosystem do too. That’s why I jumped at the chance to interview Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage for Gillette’s How Does He Shave? campaign.

I know Adam and Jamie have dealt with their share of technical malfunctions in their careers, so I’m sure they can sympathize with me when I say that unfortunately the audio of our interview didn’t get recorded. Unlike the other interviews I did where I transcribed my conversations from recordings, here I’m just working off notes taken during and immediately after the call.

If any readers work for the NSA, it’d be great if you can send the secret recording of the call over to the Geekosystem office.

Adam and Jamie are known for their problem-solving abilities, so it’s interesting to watch them work out their theory in this video:

What I found surprising about their Large Hadron Collider theory — besides the fact that LHC is in the middle of a two-year shutdown — is that their solution didn’t involve them building anything or blowing anything up. That’s sort of what they do best.

I pointed out to Adam and Jamie that the LHC was shut down until 2015, and asked if Superman would have to resort to a backup plan. Adam replied by saying that Superman shaving was the real reason the LHC was “shut down.” Seems legit.

In their video, they mention that the stubble is wormholed — that’s a word now, by the way — away from Superman’s face and winds up in a sort of Van Allen belt around the Earth. This would obviously be dangerous for any spacecraft, but Adam points out a potential silver lining. He said that if you could figure out a way to harness the stubble, you could make the most powerful sandpaper in the world. You could sand down anything, but it would also cost millions of dollars. That opens up some nice side business opportunities for Superman, since harnessing his space-stubble wouldn’t be a problem for him.

Before settling on their Large Hadron Collider theory, the Mythbusters went through a few other ideas. The first of which involved Superman scraping his face along roads as he flew. This would grind down his beard, and was similar to our friend Bill Nye’s theory. I pointed that out, and Adam was quick to comment that the theories were similar, but that theirs was better than Nye’s. Not only would their road-scraping idea help Superman shave, but as they pointed out roads need to be resurfaced, so Superman would be doing a service for the highway commission.

Since our friend Bill Nye’s theory focused mainly on the concept of grinding and not a specific grinding device, and because I was a little disappointed Adam and Jamie didn’t build anything, I asked them how they would fabricate a grinding tool for the Man of Steel. The first step would be to get a lot of diamonds. Their favorite method of collecting diamonds? Explosions, obviously.

They would then build a sort of shell molded to Superman’s face that would use the diamonds to grind his beard away when he put his face inside. They did a better job of explaining it, and it sounded like a pretty good design considering they were working on the fly. A recording to transcribe from would have been handy here.

The other alternate theory they came up with was Adam’s idea that Superman could just pluck the hairs out at super speed. Jamie and I disagreed about whether this would hurt to do or not. Jamie said it wouldn’t hurt Superman, but I think it would hurt him — he’d just be able to withstand the pain. Then Adam said it might just be a sign of a compulsive disorder that we all spent a few seconds trying to remember the name of.

I looked it up. It’s trichotillomania.

Since Adam specifically mentions in the video that both he and Jamie shave every day, I was curious exactly how. I asked about their shaving habits, and added that I assume Jamie’s mustache is indestructible. Since Jamie shaves his head as well as his face, he does it in the shower. He added that he just lets his mustache do what it wants. From the looks of it, his mustache just wants to sit majestically on his lip as a shining example for mustaches everywhere. Even Ron Swanson needs something to aspire to.

Being a regular Mythbusters viewer, I’ve noticed that Jamie’s facial hair has stayed pretty consistent over the years, while Adam’s has varied from time to time. I asked if he had any reason for the changes, and he told me that he makes changes based on his wife’s input. Most married guys can probably relate to that situation. I know I can. Thankfully, my wife likes my beard.

This also calls into question Mayim Bialik’s assertion that women don’t like beards, and backs up our report that beards make men more attractive.

For the last bit of our conversation, I brought up the fact that I got our friend Bill Nye’s permission to refer to him as “our friend Bill Nye” whenever we write about him here on the site. I asked Nye because he comes up on Geekosystem with some regularity, and so do Adam and Jamie, so naturally I asked if we could call them our friends as well.

Adam said, “Absolutely,” and then paraphrased a Kurt Vonnegut quote about friendship. Instead of me paraphrasing Adam paraphrasing Vonnegut, I found the quote from Vonnegut’s Palm Sunday:

If you have met a person only once, and you are a New Yorker, you are entitled to say, whenever that person’s name comes up in conversation, ‘Yes – so-and-so is a friend of mine.’

Our interview was on the phone, but my phone and I were in New York, so I think it counts.

Adam then added, “Next time you interview us you can call us your ‘very good friends.'”

I told him that would put them one up on our friend Bill Nye.

Adam said, “We already are.”

Come on, guys. We’re all friends here. There’s no need to fight over us.

(via Gillette)

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Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.