Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reality through a British Lens

This time the Keeper's daughters did not scare them away.

A team from the British Broadcasting Company arrived on the Point Monday morning to film a portion of a science documentary on the nature of reality. Leili, Sam, Toby, Helen and Professor Max used the Tower and the Jetties as their setting to film a segment that will likely air next spring. It could appear on the Discovery Channel, on the BBC, or on PBS as a NOVA episode.

The crew's enthusiasm for the site was apparent from the start. Their intelligence and workmanship emerged over the course of the day. As it was a stunning Columbus Day holiday there were crowds around. Boy Scouts, high schoolers having yearbook portraits taken, fishermen, and the usual dog walkers joined the those getting in their exercise, or the meditations and, in the midst of it, Max was describing reality as mathematics.



It is a very old idea. The Egyptians and the Greeks were looking for the eternal and found it in the relationships we express mathematically. The square of two sides of a right triangle will always equal the square of the longest side. Sine, cosine, and tangent are permanent relationships. A professor at MIT, Max used the Tower windows for his equations and a decahedron for a prop. It was very cool to see.

Toby, Sam, Leili and Helen were relentless workers. They moved around the grounds for angles and light and attitudes and did it all without so much as a single shout. There used two cameras. A more conventional looking, big, battery driven, tape recording camera that wirelessly sent a signal to a monitor that looked very much like a lunch cooler. It took me 90 minutes to figure out that Helen was watching playback rather than checking for an apple. They also used a Canon Digital camera could shift between stills and film and was a help in the cramped quarters of the Tower. All were more than patient with my questions about the gear and about other jobs they had been on. It helped that I had some familiarity with the topic and with the ways light moves around the old place. The time flew by and I was able to get a great number of chores done even as I checked in with them regularly.



There were two mishaps. They lost the footpad to a tripod about half way out on the small jetty. We attempted a recovery but the ocean washed it away. A bigger issue emerged after they left when I got a call from Toby asking if I could check in the yard for a battery pack. Initially I had no luck in the yard or in the Tower, but a 9:30 walk out along side the big jetty with a big flashlight found it, and they sent a courier by that night to pick it up before their Tuesday morning flight to California and Stanford University.

We could not have had more gracious guests. Each had stories and that light behind the eyes that tells you that there is a mix of the creative and the just plain smart going on in there. No need for the Fife and Drum this time; we hope to see them again one day.






Tonight I arrived home to find a bouquet of flowers sent by our British Invasion crew. Very kind, very classy, very them.

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