Tales from the Industry XXXIX – Magnetic Weather?

Today (Tuesday) saw me up at 6:30am to prepare for an 8:00am call time for a shoot on a special episode of – wait for it – Deadliest Space Weather. It is original programming for the Weather channel, and before you dismiss it because of the title, it turns out that it is not a bad idea for exploring various scientific concepts. The first season ended a few weeks ago. I’d not realized it was airing until recently, and actually those recent demos I told you about were used in examinations of planetary conditions on Venus and on Mars. (Two separate episodes.) The idea seems to be to consider what it would be like on earth if the conditions were like those on Venus, or consider what what happen if you went outdoors on Mars.

So you might think it is silly, but if done well, it is actually an opportunity to
explain some science to an audience who might not have been the usual science audience…in which case I’m happy to be on board! In addition to spectacularly showing what happens when sugar and sulphuric acid meet, I got to show how to boil water at room temperature… How cool is that? (“Room temperature”, you reply. Very droll.)

There is a special episode coming up that calls for understanding of how to make things twirl around like a tornado, but in space. So of course I deployed my magnets to explain about magnetic fields, field lines (see picture), how charged particle move in them, and so on…(spiral paths…). You might recall some
magnetism demos I did for the pilot episode of Sci-Fi Science back in 2007. I used similar gear there, showing how to make force fields. (Apparently that show got picked up by Discovery. I wonder how it did?

So anyway, today was fun, and I think I got some good solid physics concepts across, and certainly helped behind the scenes with the content of the show. And no…still no news on new season of The Universe. In the meantime, some of us regulars are doing things like this weather channel material (I properly met my The Universe co-presenter Alex Filipenko today (for the first time) as he arrived as I was leaving, and a new show for History that is about to start shooting that I do not know if I can tell you about.

I hope they continue The Universe. I keep trying to let them know how huge and diverse the audience is, based on who is regularly stopping me on the street to tell me that they like it. I hope that helps….


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