There’s a new show on Discovery channel that I’ve really gotten in to; Prototype This! In it, four guys take a wild idea and in a fit of wild rapid prototyping, bust out a working prototype in 14 days.
Now, it sounds sort of hum drum (unless you’re a geek), but it’s really quite remarkable when you consider that THEIR STUFF ACTUALLY WORKS!! Right off the bat, you might think, “So? Isn’t it supposed to work?” Well, yes. Ideally it is. However, the show that this is replacing rarely had anything work. If you never heard of Smash Lab, I’m not all that surprised. It was horrible.
The whole premise of the show was that four “experts” would test every day materials in “extreme ways”. Well, that’s what they said; in truth it was “let’s blow stuff up and call it science!” Watching an episode was like watching four separate Mac guys (from the commercials, not actual Mac users) all try to explain to the camera what was going one, while making it look like natural conversation. Even their ideas were ridiculous: Stop runaway trailers by attaching rocket engines pointing forward (is it any surprise they caught their tow vehicle on fire?). Make a bomb proof house by coating it with Rhino Liner (it didn’t work). Stop cars by using aerated concrete (didn’t have a chance).
Maybe someone should have told them that there are actual experts in the world who are actually working on these problems, who actually know what they’re doing!
When Prototype This! premiered, I was pretty certain it was just going to be a recast of Smash Labs. I was wrong! Even as I was watching the first episode, I was convinced these guys were nuts, and were just wasting air-time with crazy ideas and pseudo-science. Then they made four mind-controlled cars in two weeks.
I guess it helps when you have two PhDs, an actual engineer, and a special effects professional on the team who actually all know what they’re doing! So far, they’ve only had a single build that didn’t turn out . . . but not because they didn’t know what they were doing.
If you’re a geek, or even slightly scientifically inclined, be sure to watch (TiVo) an episode of this series! You’ll start the hour wondering what these guys are smoking, and end it amazed at what they’ve created!
Prototype This! airs Wednesdays, right before Mythbusters. Smash Lab was bannished to the UK, where they have better TV to occupy them anyway.