I'm a Head Rush

By Phil Plait | November 14, 2010 7:00 am

Discovery Channel network’s The Science Channel has done a cool thing: they’ve taken episodes of Mythbusters, stripped out the commercials, and replaced them with short segments about science hosted by Kari Byron. They then show these at the time of day right after kids get home from school, giving them a chance to see how much fun science can be.

These revamped shows are now called "Head Rush", and one of the things they’ve added are interviews with scientists, science promoters, and science geeks of all stripes. So when they asked me to do an interview at Comic Con over the summer, how could I say no?

I couldn’t. And they put the video online, too:

You should check out the other videos, too; they have lots of fun people (like my pal Chris Hardwick and White House science advisor John Holdren) showing kids that science is awesome, and there are lots and lots of ways to get involved.

I’m really glad to see Discovery doing stuff like this. Getting kids excited about science is maybe the best way to ensure we raise the next generation of explorers. And even if they don’t go into a science field themselves, that’s OK. They’ll still get to enjoy the wonder and awe the real world can provide, and that’s pretty cool, too.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Science, TV/Movies
MORE ABOUT: Head Rush, Kari Byron

Comments (40)

  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    Congratulations Phil. Superluminous (beyond mere brilliance) for ya! Great clip. :-) 8)

  2. Aaron

    When I was young, I would rush home every day to watch The Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Now I am a graduate student in physics . . . this is an awesome idea!


    But then again, I never did question whether the Magic School Bus was actually “magic” or rather a marvel of science and engineering . . . or just a bunch of smoke and mirrors . . .

    Congratulations, Phil–you sir are a worthy role model!

  3. Ben H.

    Very cool! I like the style. Nice work.

    I like the part where you say “I worked for ten years on the Hubble Space Telescope” and it shows shots of the ISS finishing with arrows pointing at the Russian Functional Cargo Block behind you (circa 1998). Oops.

  4. What a brilliant idea! Your segment is perfect. When I was a kid they did schoolhouse rock. I can still sing most of the those songs. Its amazing how easy learning is when you make it fun.

  5. Huh! It’s great to see that the folks at Discovery Channel are thinking about getting science and math into the heads of kids as COOL STUFF. You, our other brother, our sister, and I grew up knowing that, but many kids I knew didn’t get it.

    For OOB and I, it was Star Trek and 2001, for lil’ sis, I don’t know (maybe it was OOB and I), and for you, Space 1999 (what a terrible program that you continue to love – yeesh).

    Anyway, we have to do everything we can to excite American kids into taking a good, hard look at The Sciences and Math! Congratulations, Discovery Channel!

    Thanks, Phil, for directing me to the other Head Rush segments. They’re cool, and they aren’t all guys like I first thought.

  6. DataJack

    This is beyond cool of the Discovery channel. At a time when History channel is all about ghosts, and A&E is all about psychics, it is great to see a channel step up and do the right thing – teach children science is cool.

    And of course your contribution, Phil, is the coolest yet.

  7. John Paradox

    Head Rush sounds a lot like what some cable networks used to do late night, re-run programs cut down for educational purposes and dropping the commercials. It was called Cable In The Classroom and I know Tech TV did it (until G4 bought them) with shows like Call For Help. In fact, Call For Help had special segments with school kids on video via the Internet to ask questions.
    I even have the last CFH that was on Cable In The Classroom.


  8. Grand Lunar

    I saw this segment when they aired it. Happy to see it on YouTube!
    Believe me, it was too cool. Well, I thought so.

  9. I think this is great! Anything to get kids more interested in science is a bonus.

  10. Michel

    Science is cool… period
    So are cheerleaders.
    So meet the Science Cheerleaders!

  11. alfaniner

    I’ve been recording it since I first found it was on. I usually FF through the Mythbusters segments (as I’ve seen each show multiple times alread) and just watch the interstitials.

    And it’s great to watch a show that doesn’t bookend commercials with lengthy Coming Up”s and recaps.

  12. BigBadSis

    This is what it’s all about. Great idea. Congrats to the Discovery Channel — a head above the rest for sure. Loved your spot Phil. Also loved Mike Rowe’s. Actually, loved ’em all!

  13. Thomas Siefert

    “Terrible” only apply to Space: 1999 if you are talking about season two.

  14. Paul in Sweden

    OT: OFF TOPIC ALERT – This is an alert to the far-left readers of this blog!!!

    Paul in Sweden reads every single Phil Plait post.

    However: Paul in Sweden rarely comments at “Bad Astronomy”.

    Tonight, the second episode of TBBT in which Will Wheaton appears was replayed here and my wife and myself enjoyed it very much.

    So… for you people who believe that I only comment on the CAGW threads… you can take a FF!!


    I do not agree with everything posted here at Bad Astronomy but I do enjoy reading(and sometimes learn :) ) when you write replies.


  15. Jeffersonian

    dude, this is great

  16. Agustina Iansilevich

    Awww… It looks so cool, nice work Phil 😀

  17. Joseph

    Mrs. Frizzle was a Q and the School Bus was something like Mary Poppin’s handbag.

  18. Very cool, except for the aforementioned confusion between Hubble and ISS. Seriously, it’s like they were deliberately TRYING to demonstrate exactly the kinds of misconceptions about science Phil was talking about. Oh, wait…

  19. SRQHivemind

    Even though they got the Hubble wrong, it’s still awesome.
    I grew up on Magic School Bus and Bill Nye.
    Kids these days have The Mythbusters and The Bad Astronomer to add to that amount of already concentrated awesome.

    Kudos to Discovery to being one of the few networks out there that actually tries to stick with their original premise.

    I’m not in the science field. I’m just a lowly college-dropout IT grunt who’s dabbling at writing Science Fiction. With the antivaxxers, the 2012 hysteria and the shunning of Science education by many local governments in favor of teaching to the tests we need this sort of thing more than ever.

  20. Lisa

    Another great way to get kids into science is Phil Plait traveling to places like West Georgia and showing clips from movies about catastrophic impacts. It was worth the hour and a half drive with the kids.

  21. ND

    Nice one Phil.

    When I first read the title I thought it was somehow about something stupid Rush Limbaugh said recently. Glad it wasn’t.

    That Hubble/ISS confusion should be fixed though :/

  22. gypkap

    Suggestion based on SRQHivemind’s comment:

    There used to be chains of stores found in malls called The Nature Center and the Discovery Store (once related to Discovery Channel?) that sold science books, nature books, and relatively inexpensive telescopes. They went out of business several years ago. Nothing has really taken their places. There’s a void there waiting to be filled.

  23. Aaron

    @17. Joseph:
    Okay, I can see Ms. Frizzle being a Q, but then how in hell does that handbag work? Must be a wormhole in there somewhere . . .

  24. Good promo. I think I’ll share that on FB.

  25. anon


    speaking of mythbusters, I’m hoping you might be able to tell us what exactly is going on with the moon right now?! It appears the moon has “shifted” in the sky today, and no one in the MSM is reporting it… it might have something to do with the world wide earthquake we had on the 10th, and the deletion of all the data from the USGS servers…hmm

    Seriously, this story http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread630024/pg1 and this youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/SmokinJoeTrainer#p/u/1/5NCMFvSGDBQ raise some serious questions as to what is happening today…

    looking forward to a serious debunking of this one..

  26. Aaron – It’s called a tesseract. (Used to be, anyway….)

  27. Ken (a different Ken)

    Dangit, they’ve just made it even harder to not get cable TV!

    Fortunately the price tag is still more than I can bear. I’ll just need to buy the DVDs when they come out …

  28. conzx

    what up with this announced NASA conference about the finding of an “an exceptional object in our cosmic neighborhood”? http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/nov/HQ_M10-157_Chandra_Update.html

  29. Paul

    I was expecting something a little more Max Headroom. “Hi, I’m Phil … Phil… Phil … Pl pl pl pl pl ait.”

  30. Brad

    Careers in Science.
    “I never thought I’d see a resonance cascade, let alone create one!” -Satisfied Scientist from Black Mesa

  31. jeff

    ” Getting kids excited about science is maybe the best way to ensure we raise the next generation of explorers. And even if they don’t go into a science field themselves, that’s OK. They’ll still get to enjoy the wonder and awe the real world can provide, and that’s pretty cool, too.”

    I so agree and I totally believe in kids.
    still I do not like geeks in general and the really “cool” thing would be if we could interest all types of people in science, not just future geeks, and that would then really impress me.

    I can dream anyway

  32. Chris A.

    Aaron (#2) touches on one of my persistent pet peeves with space/astronomy shows on TV: The carelessness with which the producers select images to illustrate the topic being discussed. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a picture of a nebula when galaxies are the topic at hand (or vice-versa), or a galaxy when it’s supposed to be a proto-planetary nebula, or, or, or… And make no mistake, everyone (from the History Channel, to Discovery, to TLC, to National Geographic Channel) gets it wrong, in just about every show. To me, it’s akin to having a lion expert speaking while pictures of tigers are being shown.

    What’s particularly aggravating is that this is something that should be extremely easy (for the producers, that means “cheap”) to get right. Seriously, put one of the underpaid interns on the task of sorting images by type–it’s all right there on Hubble’s web site with the pretty picture you want to use.

    Do the producers really sit around the editing booth looking at their latest cut saying: “Eh, close enough. Who’s going to know the difference?” Or, worse yet, are they saying things like “this scene needs an image with lots of blue in it–find me something space-y (I don’t care what) that has lots of blue”?

    (Some) viewers DO know the difference, and it DOES put us off!

    If I seem like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s because in my job (working at a planetarium/public observatory/science museum) I’m the guy who has to try and set the record straight and correct the manifold misconceptions (e.g. the casual convolution of “solar system,” “galaxy,” and “universe”) that result. Telling kids that working hard in school to become a scientist is a worthwhile thing to do, while simultaneously showing that attention and knowing the difference between a nebula and a galaxy are unimportant, is foolish.

    (And no, Phil, I’m not laying this at your feet. I’m guessing you weren’t given any editorial control over what graphics g0t plastered behind you as you spoke.)

  33. Joseph G (AG in SC)

    @#32 Jeff: still I do not like geeks in general and the really “cool” thing would be if we could interest all types of people in science, not just future geeks, and that would then really impress me.

    You’re not looking to make yourself popular here, are ya? 😉
    Seriously, that’s like posting on an official World Cup forum that you really can’t stand soccer* fans.

    *Yes, I’m aware that it’s called football everywhere else in the world, but here in the states we call it soccer, and we like it that way. Wanna make somethin’ of it?
    *belligerent scowl*

  34. Thanks for making science fun!

  35. raoul duke

    Cool. But could you ask when Discovery Channel in Canada will be showing Part 3 and when the fark they’re going to put the series into a regular slot on their schedule? I’m sick and bloody tired of ‘reality’ shows about guys driving trucks on ice, driving down hills with huge honking logs, or trailer park dwellers who run pawn shops, whatever taking up the prime time slots and shows like this that require some thought, research, and intelligence to put together getting lost in the ether!

  36. Chris A.

    @jeff (#32):
    “…the really “cool” thing would be if we could interest all types of people in science, not just future geeks, and that would then really impress me.”

    This will remain an impossibility so long as our culture defines “geek” as “anyone interested in science.”

    I’m reminded of the joke: “Humility: Just when you think you’ve got it…you’ve lost it.”

  37. Missy

    I’ve been recording the new ones since they started. I think it is a GREAT idea!

  38. Buzz Parsec

    Aaron & Chris A:

    Just watched a Nova episode about the NSA the other day. Why did they insist on illustrating every mention of intercepting radio comms with a picture of the VLA?

  39. This is a wonderful thing. Kids need exposure to science in a fun and engaging way. Also, I love Kari! She is a smart, beautiful woman, a mother and a geek. A Total inspiration. Im’ a geek (Stanford/Comicon), A mom, and a working professional. My company http://www.latrunkshows.com helps mom’s make extra money selling fashions. Great job Kari!


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