STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Grant Imahara was constantly building or refining robots. He worked on the Energizer Bunny, R2-D2 and a robot for the TV show "BattleBots." He was best known for the Discovery Channel's popular science show "MythBusters." Imahara died on Monday at the age of 49. The cause was a brain aneurysm. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has an appreciation.
ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: On "MythBusters," Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci and Kari Byron did some pretty nutty science experiments, like shooting a fireball made of non-dairy creamer out of a cannon.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MYTHBUSTERS")
GRANT IMAHARA: Non-dairy creamer canon in three, two, one.
(SOUNDBITE OF CANNON FIRING)
BLAIR: When "MythBusters" was cancelled, the trio made a new science show for Netflix called "White Rabbit Project."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WHITE RABBIT PROJECT")
IMAHARA: This is liquid nitrogen. Its temperature is minus 320 degrees.
BLAIR: Growing up in Los Angeles, Imahara's childhood bedroom was covered in "Star Wars" paraphernalia. Years later, he would be one of the official operators of R2-D2 when he worked for George Lucas' visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic. He recently posted images of a baby Yoda animatronic he said would tour children's hospitals. He told late-night host Craig Ferguson his passion for robots and building things started early.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON")
IMAHARA: My parents bought me a Lego kit...
CRAIG FERGUSON: All right.
IMAHARA: ...When I was 4 years old, very small. And I would take things apart, put things together. And it's always been an obsession of mine.
BLAIR: Grant Imahara was constantly tinkering and sharing his obsession with robotics with others. He spoke at science festivals and on college campuses. He mentored a high school robotics team. Among the tributes on social media, one fan writes, thank you for making science fun. Another says, watching your show is one of the biggest reasons I study STEM at university.
Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.
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