Tuesday, 7 June 2011

An Echo of the Echo of Creation

A few weeks ago, Andrew Pontzen and I made a little teaser video for his Cheltenham Science Festival show "Echo of Creation" (10am, Saturday 11th June, tickets available here). If you haven't seen the video, here it is:

There's bit of a "behind the video" post on the Times Online site, but if you can't get behind the paywall: the echo of the Big Bang (the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB) makes up about 1 percent of static you see on an untuned television. We thought it would be clever to have clips of Andrew talking about the CMB in the style of science documentaries from major milestones in the CMB's history, culminating in a "Wonders of the Universe"-style discussion of the Planck mission and what you could expect from the talk itself. We thought it would be pretty clever to build on the "Tree of Physics" drawing meme and have the clips play on television sets from each era scribbled on an "interactive blackboard". We were so clever we even made the backing music too loud in the final insert.

Well, it turns out that the Universe is even clevererer than us. To cut a long story short, everyone important in physics was busy yesterday and Sky News needed someone to explain why the storage of anti-matter for 16 minutes was so pant-wettingly exciting (which, to be fair, it is). So, after throwing on the only clean, smartish clothes I had to hand after the weekend's stag party-based activities, off I popped to the Clanfield Observatory near Petersfield, home of the Hampshire Astronomical Group, to give the old science hands bit of an airing. The clip appeared on the 5pm and 6pm bulletins, and I took the following picture for posterity.

Of course, it took uploading to Facebook and a single-word comment from the peerless Alice Bell to make me realise that, having made a film featuring Andrew talking about science in a spoof documentary on a fake television set, I now had a photo of me talking about science on a real news programme on a real television set.

Wearing exactly the same clothes.

Well played, Universe. Well played.

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