You're minding your own business, filling up your gas tank, when your cell phone rings. Should you answer it? You've heard you shouldn't use cell phones near gas stations since they can produce small sparks that can ignite big fires.
Can that be true?
It's a tough job separating truth from urban legend, but that's exactly what the "MythBusters" do. And one Mythbuster will soon be on the campus of Eastern Illinois University to reveal some of the secrets behind the making of the popular Discovery Channel program.
Kari Byron will lecture at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Grand Ballroom, MLK Jr. Union. Admission is free and open to the public.
The premise of "Mythbusters" is a simple one. Each week, special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman take on three myths and use modern-day science to show what's real and what's not. They do more than explain how something may or may not be scientifically possible; through trial and error, they actually demonstrate it.
Byron is one of the team members who helps them do it.
Without knowing, Byron had trained to be a MythBuster since she was a kid. By the age of 5, she was setting up experiments to test on her sister and using dolls as crash test dummies. Luckily for her parents, they always caught her right before little sister took a ride down a laundry chute or was the subject of an "around-the-world" attempt on the playground swings.
After graduating from San Francisco State and traveling the world, Byron began her career as an artist, working in sculpture and painting and holding successful exhibitions at some of San Francisco 's leading galleries.
"Artist" was only one of many hats she wore, though, while searching for her place in the world.
Her sculpting skills and love for odd jobs soon led her into the field of model-making and toy-prototyping, which led to a job with Jamie Hyneman at M5 Industries. It was at M5 that Byron got her first big break with the "MythBusters" team.
During a "vacuum toilet" segment of one of the first episodes (which examined whether a person could get sucked into an airplane toilet), Hyneman needed a 3-D scan of a person's backside, and Byron had the right... well, you know. Basically, she was in the right place at the right time. The rest is history.
Today Byron works with the "MythBusters" team, using science and Yankee ingenuity to solve the mysteries of today's most compelling urban legends.