I ran into our Head of School, Professor Martin Hendry, as I was leaving work on Friday (Actually I was going back into work, having forgotten my hat, but I want Prof Hendry to think I’m smart so I didn’t mention that). He said that he’d been chatting to people from STV and that they’d like to speak to two researchers: One who was fairly new to the field of gravitational waves and one who had spent their career on it. They needed people for the following Tuesday. Martin had suggested Professor Jim Hough and me.
I said yes. Obviously. The announcement that we had detected gravitational waves had only been made the previous day and everybody was very excited. I think everyone will continue to be very excited for a long time. So of course I wanted to go on TV and enthuse about gravitational waves a bit more.
After saying yes I panicked a bit. What if they asked me something I didn’t know the answer to? What if Jim had to cut in and correct me? TV is scary: The potential to embarass yourself is much greater than when you’re giving a public talk. However, by Tuesday morning I hadn’t heard anything and I’d assumed nothing was happening. The news moves quickly and, whilst it might be extremely important to me, others might already be looking at the next big thing.
The first I heard it was going ahead was when I was CC’d into an email from Jim, asking someone at STV to organise a parking space for us. I decided I’d better do two things:
- Email Jim to ask what was going on
- Check I didn’t have anything stuck in my teeth
Before I knew it Jim had abandoned plans of driving in favour of taking a taxi and we quickly bundled into it. We chatted to the taxi driver and the topic of gravitational waves came up so we took the opportunity to do a quick bit of outreach. He seemed to think it was all very exciting so that was good. Then he asked us if we believed in the Moon landings. I hope we convinced him that they were real.
When we arrived at STV we were offered coffee and moved to a waiting room. Then to make up and a quick briefing of questions and then to the news room. I was back to being terrified but I hope I hid it well. The interview went by blindingly quickly and we headed back to the University. Here’s the interview
It has been a surreal, but very fun, few days.