Monday, 19 April 2010

Gigayear: 1,000,000,000 years

How do we decide what films to make for the Sixty Symbols project?

Sometimes the answer's right in front of our faces.

This is part of an email exchange between myself and astronomer Chris Conselice, who kindly agreed to help make a video.

CHRIS: Sure (I will help), on what topic?

BRADY: You tell me! You're the astronomer! What do you tell people that makes them go "wow, that's cool!"

CHRIS: The problem is that astronomy doesn't have too many 'symbols' - at least in what I do, which is galaxy evolution/formation. I suppose what interests people the most is the study of the earliest galaxies back to when the universe was less than 1 Gyr old, and how galaxies got to be the way they are today through star formation and merging, etc.

BRADY: What is a Gyr?

CHRIS: Haha, right, already I'm too technical! It is 10^9 years, or a billion years.

BRADY: That's your symbol!!!!! To people like me that is amazing... That you work in a world where you have a shorthand symbol for A BILLION YEARS that you use so casually!

CHRIS: Interesting, yes, that could work.

And here is the video we made.

Plus there is some extra interview footage here.

The inspiration between every video is different, but I thought this was a nice example of a good idea coming from left field (to borrow an Americanism, in honour of Chris's heritage!)

(PS: I looked up the origin of the saying "out of left field" and, as bit of a baseball fan, found it fascinating.)

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