Wednesday, August 26, 2015

HMAvl: A year on film

As everything that happens in the university of Exeter's astrophysics group; it all started with coffee time. 
My very good friend and colleague, Moncho Rey Raposo, had asked if I wanted to try a video series, and being like minded with regards to public engagement and the role a scientist has in passing on our knowledge, I thought; why the hell not! Even though I was then in my final year of the PhD and should really have been focusing on something else, hmmmm. Well never mind that. This is my year on film with Moncho and the Hannah & Moncho Astro video log (HMAvl). 

A year before I had briefly entertained the idea of creating my own science show with the universities tv channel, XTV, but the vast amount of time and technical support needed for production put me off due to the time I could put towards anything (we lasted 1 episode). I needed something quick, fun, and informative. So, who better to embark on this adventure with than Moncho, and he came up with the idea so that saved time too.

The plan was to discuss fun and interesting science each week, while sharing with the audience what PhD life was like at the University of Exeter. Over the course of our year in film we covered so many different topics.




We covered so many random things across physics
but it was also important to cover what it was like to be
doing a PhD and the life that we had at the University.

Introduction - ET - Rubik's cube - Halloween special in the Astrophysics group - Turbulence - Getting an astrophysics paper published - Exponential growth - Exeter's supercomputer - Hannah & Moncho's elevator pitch - Behind the scenes of HMAvl - Astrophysics christmas party - The Star of Bethlehem - Winter solstice - Maria's elevator pitch - Waves and interference - Weather - Why do a PhD? - a personal account - Alex's elevator pitch - A career in academia: interview with Pete V - The butterfly effect & yoga? - Exoplanets - Women in Astrophysics - Pablo's elevator pitch - Solar Eclipse 2015 - Blackbody radiation and CMB - Hannah turns in her thesis - Cryogenic dieting - Boyle's law - Alice's elevator pitch - Hannah's thesis defense - The big bang - Quantum meerkat - Conferences and posters - Tiffany's elevator pitch - Hubble deep field - Hannah's graduation



I think my favorite episode is still probably the Behind the scenes of HMAVL. Perhaps prematurely in episode 10 we made a behind the scenes episode, and I loved it and still do because I got to pretend like I was on a real TV show. If you know me you know I love TV and especially when you get a behind the scenes look at how it is all done. I even listen to all the audio commentaries if they make them, so I reveled in the chance to make one of my own.


Another reason why this was great is it explains everything I have been trying to put down in this blog, but with the added joy of moving pictures.



I am going to miss being able to write of a section in my diary for filming each week. I will miss the random topic to research each week. There is always room to learn more about science and relearn things long forgottten. There was a point where we were having issue with coming up with a topic to cover in 3 or 5 minutes, and i remembered that years ago for my scuba diving instructor exam i was tasked to teach boyles law to my divers. The examiners thought that i would find it difficult to convey what can be a complex topic to scuba divers who would range fro 14 up and from all manner of backgrounds. The topic itself was perfect for a HMAvl. So on the day that Moncho was able to film we met at my apartment and filmed it in the bathroom then and there with my dive kit as the backdrop.

But most of all I am going to miss working with Moncho on all of these crazy ideas. Anything went and we tried to not be worried about how it would look. So thank you for all the fun. Enjoy the playlist of our year on film and let us know what you thought.




Moncho and I during the filming of episode 2





I personally would not recommend starting such a project in your last year, while writing up and defending your thesis. But if you love doing something then go for it. If you play it right there is always time for fun.