Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Radio Lab: Symmetry

I don't go in to the office this week so you don't have to Sod Off. Don't get comfy, though.

Several weeks back in Friday Links I left a link to a show called "Radio Lab". It was the episode "Oops" and from my lofty view high on Mt. Internet it seemed to get spread pretty far. Mostly because it was funny.

Well, shortly after posting that link I got tickets for Yummy and I to a touring stage performance of "Radio Lab". The tour is really pretty small. So far just New York, the show's home, and Washington, D.C., my home. But the turn out has been pretty good so far so they may do a California show at some point. Maybe. Don't quote me.

The show was called "Symmetry". I don't think it was being recorded for broadcast. It's the same show they did in New York. And it was all about ham. No, it was about symmetry. Of course it was. Ham is just easier to spell.

They talked about conjoined twins, they talked about how lack of symmetry resulted in the universe having more matter than antimatter, they talked about flipping molecules to get different properties, and on and on like they do.

Even the stage was symmetrical.
In the main lobby there was a mirror that we were supposed to check out during intermission. The mirror was facing out toward the street and we were walking up from the side. So you can imagine that seeing myself walking up to the mirror from the side was a bit strange. I'd seen these before, but it had been awhile. It's really two mirrors placed at 90.000° angles so that when you looked at the mirror straight on you saw how your look to others instead of how you look to yourselves.

Because we seemed like such awesome folks (and I got the tickets via a generous donation to WAMU) we got to hang out after the show for a reception. It was a bit awkward at first, but soon it settled into what I'm accustomed to at receptions. That's where the guests have a group of people gathered around and I stand on the outside and listen.

I was lucky enough to get to talk with hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. I got a picture with one but the other got called away and I missed him.

Me and Jad. I call him "Jad".
I mentioned to Jad that Splenda is one of those molecules that is flipped. A special fermenting of sugar and it looks like sugar molecules, but backwards. So it tastes like sugar but the body doesn't know how to handle it. He didn't know that. Yummy says I got my goofy face on when I got to tell him something he didn't know. I mean, just listen to the show. They seem to know everything. 

It was interesting to watch the show because Jad seems to be the sound producer. He has his MacBook open in front of him and he spends the show cueing up different clips and sounds as needed. I'd love to see what his screen looks like. Robert says he's amazed watching Jad work because he always seems to have any and every sound right there whenever they need it. 

And I don't want to short their musician ZoĆ« Keating. She's a cellist that I see they've used on the show other times. She was there with her baby. Yummy was introduced to the baby before it was handed to her so that Zoe could sign the CD Yummy bought. 

You can listen to RadioLab as a podcast at I think most of the people who were at the reception know the show primarily through that medium. Feel free to donate, too. They were a victim of some cost cutting at the National Science Foundation. 

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