Life · Science

STV Interview about Gravitational Waves

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.

STV Interview about Gravitational Waves.png
Here I am with Jim Hough and the presenter, Amy Irons. I think I look very odd but I’m assured that’s normal when you see yourself on TV.

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:

  1. Email Jim to ask what was going on
  2. 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.

6 thoughts on “STV Interview about Gravitational Waves

  1. I’m really impressed that they did such an in-depth segment on it. I suppose it’s just local TV, but that’s still quite pleasing. Both you and Prof Hough came across as lucid and the explanations were clear and well-pitched for a lay audience, nice job :).

    Also, STV Player makes you sign up before you can watch anything!? That’s pretty crappy (not that Mr Foo Bar with a disposable email address cares, but still…)


    1. Thanks, Raj!
      I agree, that is pretty annoying. Word on the street is that the video has now somehow migrated to YouTube as well but I’m not sure if that’s totally legit so I didn’t want to share the link just in case.


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