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What Should I Ask the Mythbusters?

mental_floss has been offered an interview with three of the Mythbusters: Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, and Kari Byron. There's a new season of Mythbusters starting in two weeks, and Kari Byron is also hosting the new science show Head Rush, a commercial-free hour of experiments on the Science Channel every weekday at 4pm.

Anyway, for this interview -- while I've got some nerdy thoughts of my own, I want to know what your burning questions are. Got a favorite myth you want to see busted? Want to pick a bone with the Mythbusters' methodology in some obscure myth from four years ago? Want facial hair-care tips from Jamie? ASK AWAY.

The Details

Post your questions in the comments. The cut-off date is Monday, September 27 at 8am Pacific. We'll pick our favorite questions and pass them along to Adam, Jamie, and Kari for an interview that will be posted on Wednesday, October 6 -- the day the new season premieres.

Methodology for choosing the top questions: will be subjective, capricious, and based primarily on the awesomeness of the question. Should a situation arise in which all questions are awesome, a group of mental_floss writers shall be empaneled, Twelve Angry Men style, to determine the best.

Number of questions to be selected: something like ten. We'll see how much the Mythbusters can take, but we think ten seems like a fair number, plus a few nerdy bonus _floss staff questions will be thrown in for good measure. If you ask a multi-part question, be aware that we may only choose the most awesome part of it.

Now, add your questions in the comments! You have until Monday, so be quick about it!

(Photos courtesy of the Discovery Channel. After the jump, check out a few more fun promo shots.)

Mythbusters - Adam and Jamie

Mythbusters - Adam with Tennis Ball

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Big Questions
What Causes Sinkholes?
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

This week, a sinkhole opened up on the White House lawn—likely the result of excess rainfall on the "legitimate swamp" surrounding the storied building, a geologist told The New York Times. While the event had some suggesting we call for Buffy's help, sinkholes are pretty common. In the past few days alone, cavernous maws in the earth have appeared in Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, and of course Florida, home to more sinkholes than any other state.

Sinkholes have gulped down suburban homes, cars, and entire fields in the past. How does the ground just open up like that?

Sinkholes are a simple matter of cause and effect. Urban sinkholes may be directly traced to underground water main breaks or collapsed sewer pipelines, into which city sidewalks crumple in the absence of any structural support. In more rural areas, such catastrophes might be attributed to abandoned mine shafts or salt caverns that can't take the weight anymore. These types of sinkholes are heavily influenced by human action, but most sinkholes are unpredictable, inevitable natural occurrences.

Florida is so prone to sinkholes because it has the misfortune of being built upon a foundation of limestone—solid rock, but the kind that is easily dissolved by acidic rain or groundwater. The karst process, in which the mildly acidic water wears away at fractures in the limestone, leaves empty space where there used to be stone, and even the residue is washed away. Any loose soil, grass, or—for example—luxury condominiums perched atop the hole in the ground aren't left with much support. Just as a house built on a weak foundation is more likely to collapse, the same is true of the ground itself. Gravity eventually takes its toll, aided by natural erosion, and so the hole begins to sink.

About 10 percent of the world's landscape is composed of karst regions. Despite being common, sinkholes' unforeseeable nature serves as proof that the ground beneath our feet may not be as solid as we think.

A version of this story originally ran in 2014.

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DNA Analysis of Loch Ness Could Reveal the Lake's Hidden Creatures
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iStock

Stakeouts, sonar studies, and a 24-hour video feed have all been set up in an effort to confirm the existence of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Now, the Associated Press reports that an international team of scientists will use DNA analysis to learn what's really hiding in the depths of Scotland's most mysterious landmark.

The team, led by Neil Gemmell, who researches evolutionary genetics at the University of Otago in New Zealand, will collect 300 water samples from various locations and depths around the lake. The waters are filled with microscopic DNA fragments animals leave behind as they swim, mate, eat, poop, and die in the waters, and if Nessie is a resident, she's sure to leave bits of herself floating around as well.

After extracting the DNA from the organic material found in the water samples, the scientists plan to sequence it. The results will then be compared to the DNA profiles of known species. If there's evidence of an animal that's not normally found in the lake, or an entirely new species, the researchers will hopefully spot it.

Gemmell is a Nessie skeptic, and he says the point of the project isn't necessarily to discover new species. Rather, he wants to create a genetic profile of the lake while generating some buzz around the science behind it.

If the study goes according to plan, the database of Loch Ness's inhabitants should be complete by 2019. And though the results likely won't include a long-extinct plesiosaur, they may offer insights about other invasive species that now call the lake home.

[h/t AP]

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