Mythbuster developing vehicle armor for military

No myth: Jamie Hyneman and his M5 Industries are helping the U.S. military to develop new effective, lightweight vehicle armor for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Matt Hickey
With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.
Matt Hickey
2 min read
Jamie Hyneman
He's proving that when Mythbusters blow stuff up, it's for science. Discovery Channel

You're one-half the brains behind a hit TV show, you've developed special effects for Hollywood for years, and you appear on T-shirts and are known as a positive nerd role model. Great, but what do you do with your spare time?

If you're Jamie Hyneman of the show "Mythbusters," you put your formidable brain power to use helping the U.S. military come up with next-generation lightweight vehicle armor, that's what.

And he's doing just that, reportedly coordinating with the Office of Naval Research to help develop the armor to be used on vehicles in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hyneman's task is to come up with an ultra-lightweight armor that won't encumber vehicles, but can still withstand shrapnel and blast damage from improvised explosive devices while protecting those inside the vehicle.

Over nine seasons of his show, which airs on the Discovery Channel, Hyneman and fellow Mythbuster Adam Savage have had plenty of firsthand experience with explosives and their effects, especially in ways that most people wouldn't think of.

That is, after all, the point of the show: taking myths and urban legends and putting them to the test, which often stretches the limits of credulity, as well as technology. It's this out-of-the-box situational thinking that probably makes Hyneman a good fit, along with a scientific mindset and his bare-faced curiosity.

This isn't his first work with the military, either.

Not long ago, Hyneman designed a virtual injured soldier, or avatar, that would act as a body double to help train medics. It was created to spurt blood and moan as if in pain if first aid wasn't applied correctly. The dummy's job is to acclimate medics to the types of gore and pressure they'll likely find on the battlefield by reproducing it with modern technology and a bit of know-how. If anything, that's what Hyneman is good at, which should translate into the new armor being effective. And he'll likely have a good time developing it, too.