Monday, November 13, 2006

Blackholes at RHIC?

This is old news, but still.....

I read with a bit of a glee at news like this - not to mention the fact that there's nothing remotely "blackhollish" being created at RHIC.

I have a bit of a personal interest in this thing, thanks to the Comedy Central. Several years ago, after Frank Wilczek's "blackhole" scenario in RHIC's collision made it into the news media all over the world, the Comedy Central channel decided to join in the fun and did a piece on it. This was supposed to be an "investigative report" by Steve Carell to appear in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Now rumor has it that Brookhaven's PR people wasn't amused by this and did not give them permission to come in an do the report. However, again as a rumor, someone from the show knew of someone from Brookhaven, and managed to arrange for access to the lab. So they got on site, but could not gain access to RHIC, which is central to their piece. However, they did manage to gain access (via their contact) to a different facility within Brookhaven - the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS). So, instead of RHIC, they toured and filmed around the NSLS instead.

This is where *I* came in. I was working as a postdoc during that time, and happen to be doing experimental work at the NSLS. Now you have to keep in mind that Brookhaven has done promotional work now and then, so it is not an unusual sight to see someone video taping some part of the lab every now and then. So when I was in the middle of doing work and see a film crew wondering around the facility, I thought nothing of it. I also do not watch the Comedy Central channel often (other than for South Park), and I certainly was not a frequent viewer of the Daily Show. So I had no clue who these people were, even though I nodded at Steve Carell at that time (I was oblivious on who he was then).

Anyway, several weeks passed by and one morning, while I was in my office, one of the staff physicist on my floor came in and started telling people that Brookhaven appeared on the Comedy Central's Daily Show the night before, and it was hilarious. They did a piece on RHIC but filmed everything at the NSLS... etc.. etc... So we all went into the hallway to listen to the whole thing. And in the middle of it, he turned around towards me, pointed his finger at me and said "... and you were in it!"

I swear, the first words out of my mouth were "I did WHAT?"

Luckily, he made a tape copy of the show. So a bunch of us filed into a small conference room and watched the tape. Of course, it was hysterically funny, especially for us since we knew that they were interviewing the wrong people and filming at the wrong place, both of which had nothing to do with RHIC. And yes, I did appear in the piece for about 1 1/2 seconds. They filmed me while I was fiddling with the gasflow meter.

Needless to say, I made a copy of the tape. I've been showing it to friends at every opportunity I get to accumulate my 15-minute worth of fame. So whenever I hear stories about blackholes at RHIC, I chuckle at the fond memories. :)




OK, now you have *GOT* to post your 1.5 seconds of video footage on youtube!

P.S. IANAL but I assume posting 1.5 seconds of a nationally televised show does not constitute copyright infringement, hence legally youtube-able.

ZapperZ said...

Well, it did cross my mind. However, just posting that 1.5 second (it may even be shorter than that) won't do that much good, i.e. people would look at it and go "huh?".

I wrote to Comedy Central back then when it was released asking if I could buy a copy of the episode. They never replied. The copy that I have is of HORRIBLE quality.

All I can do is wait until and if they ever re-release on DVD various parts of the show.



That's really too bad about Comedy Central. I just checked out their website, and according to the FAQ, this is what was said about obtaining copies of their shows:
How can I obtain a copy of a show I saw on Comedy Central?

Unless a program is available in the Comedy Central online store, we do not accept requests from viewers to sell or distribute copies of any other programs.


(Warning: Comedy Central's "website" is the perfect exemplification of a not-so-easy-to-navigate website due to flash content.)

So it looks like we'll just have to settle for your own copy of 1.5 (or even longer to establish context) seconds of horrible quality video on youtube :)