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‘MythBusters’ Host Grant Imahara, Dead at 49, Embodied the Pop

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The brilliant roboticist and master tinkerer inspired a generation of makers.

Jul 14, 2020 grant imahara

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Grant Imahara, the electrical engineer and roboticist who co-hosted the popular science show Mythbusters, died on July 13 of a brain aneurysm. He was 49.

Discovery Communication shared the news of Imahara’s death in a statement: “We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Grant. He was an important part of our Discovery family and a really wonderful man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Imahara developed an early love for science fiction and engineering. His love of tinkering eventually took him to Lucasfilm, where he worked in the visual effects department for 9 years. While there, Imahara developed special effects for the Star Wars prequels, The Matrix, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and other Hollywood films.

Imahara became one of the lucky few officially trained to operate Star Wars‘s famed droid, R2-D2, and developed the Energizer Bunny’s rhythmic beat, which was featured heavily in the battery company’s TV commercials. But Imahara is best known for his enduring work on Mythbusters.

In 2005, host Jaime Hyneman invited Imahara to join the show’s “build team.” Along with fellow builders Kari Byron and Tory Belleci, Imahara went on to design whimsical robots and debunked myths about sharks, flying guillotines, and nuclear blast-proof cockroaches. He stuck his head in a box of spiders, played tennis atop the wings of a bi-plane, and fashioned an underwater blow-dart. All for the love of science.

Imahara was a true robot fanatic. His robot Deadblow, which slashed mechanical competitors with a carbon-dioxide-powered pickaxe, often competed in Comedy Central’s robotic competition show BattleBots. In 2010, The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson tapped Imahara to develop a robot sidekick, which they named Geoff Peterson. Imahara described some of the challenges of developing the iPad-controlled robot in a 2010 interview with Popular Mechanics.

In 2016, Imahara, Byron, and Belleci began working on a Netflix series called White Rabbit Project. The trio explored the science and engineering behind famous jailbreaks, hoverboards, and World War II’s most infamous weapons. After Netflix canceled the show following its first season, Imahara returned to the world of special effects, working with Disney to create autonomous robotic stunt doubles.

Imahara truly embodied the spirit of Popular Mechanics. His ingenuity, creativity, and unwavering love of science has served as an inspiration to us all—and now we feel a major MythBusters binge coming on. To honor Imahara’s legacy, enjoy 10 of his best MythBusters moments.

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1 Fireman Finger MiniMyth

2 Shark-Prey Vision

3 Down With Downdraft

4 Tennis Wing Walk Mini Myth

5 Buster’s Blast Off

6 Gratuitous Bugzooka

7 Duct Taped Tater Tosser

8 Cannonball of Cheese

9 Meet the Sniffers

10 A Farewell to M7

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