The Discovery Channel is famous for its unique brand of original programming, and perhaps no show exhibits those qualities better than MythBusters.
This smash hit show chronicles the adventures of hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman as they put myths and urban legends to the test of science. Each highly entertaining episode balances scientific content with gratuitous amounts of blowing stuff up.
Just the other night I caught a new episode called "Mythssion Control" in which Adam and Jamie travel to Arizona to revisit and retest a previous myth with new variables. Trust me, it's definitely not as boring as it sounds!
In the episode, Adam and Jamie wanted to determine whether or not two vehicles colliding head-on at 50 mph was equivalent to a single vehicle colliding with a wall at 100 mph. To find out, they traveled to a "secret location" in the Arizona desert where they proceed to crash test a number of cars into each other at high speeds.
When Adam mentioned the name Exponent, I just about fell out of my chair! You see, the place where they filmed this episode is not only located right in North Phoenix, it is a place that has fascinated me for years.
Exponent is a publicly owned company that was founded in 1967 by a group of five engineers. Today, the company employs over 900 people nationwide as part of their failure analysis and engineering services. Whether it is reconstructing a vehicle crash, testing aircraft parts, or simulating a worst-case-scenario, Exponent has the expertise and the facilities to conduct an impressive array of testing.
The backbone of the operation is Exponent's massive 147-acre facility in North Phoenix called the Test and Engineering Center, or TEC for short. The high-security facility is surrounded by a massive wall and dense vegetation. The only entrance is through a guarded security gate.
All of the security is kind of ironic because Exponent's operations are clearly visible using freely accessible aerial photo websites. Additionally, Exponent's own website provides a wealth of information about what they do there including photos and videos. Some of the highlights of the TEC include:
» 2 mile banked oval track for testing vehicle suspension designs
» 10 acre skid pad
» 1,200' crash rail (100+ mph)
» 170' indoor sled facility (40 mph)
We are very fortunate to have Exponent and their awesome testing facility here in our part of town. They employ the best and the brightest minds to take products and designs past the breaking point. Their research helps make our world a safer place to live in.
Exponent is just one of the many weird and wonderful places in North Phoenix that you may not have known about, even if you have lived in the area your whole life!
**UPDATE** You can watch a video clip from the episode over at AutoBlog. Check it out!