'MythBusters' host to take audience behind the scenes of popular science show

AMES, Iowa -- Grant Imahara used to drive R2-D2 and the Energizer Bunny.

He also engineered a nifty light and radio upgrade for R2-D2 and a custom circuit to keep the bunny beating that drum at a constant tempo. And he's engineered (and wrote a book about) some mean combat robots.

He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, lots of experience as a licensing engineer and model maker for filmmaker George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd. and Industrial Light & Magic, and he's been part of the Discovery Channel's "MythBusters" cast since 2005.

Yes, Imahara admits on his Web site, "I do more than play a geek on TV, I am a geek on TV."

Imahara will show some clips and talk about the mythbusting show at 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20, at Stephens Auditorium at the Iowa State Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public.

"MythBusters" features experiments that attempt to prove or disprove popular myths. Could, for example, a burglar outwit a guard dog with a nice steak? Could a ninja stop a samurai's sword with his bare hands? Or, is it possible to fold a piece of paper in half more than seven times -- even if that paper is the size of a football field?

Imahara and the rest of the cast devise experiments to test the myths -- and entertain themselves and their viewers.

"It may be the best science program on television, in no small part because it does not purport to be a science program at all," wrote John Schwartz in a 2006 New York Times feature story. "What 'MythBusters' is best known for, to paraphrase (show co-host) Mr. (Jamie) Hyneman, is blowing stuff up. And banging stuff together. And setting stuff on fire. The (show's hosts) do it for fun and ratings, of course. But in a subtle and goofily educational way, they commit mayhem for science's sake."

Imahara will give you a peek inside that mayhem.

Imahara's appearance kicks off Engineers' Week at Iowa State. Event sponsors are the Engineering Student Council, the College of Engineering's Engineers' Week 2008 and the Iowa State Committee on Lectures.