Me on TV

Recently I was interviewed by TV journalists for a documentary of the channel 3Sat called “Rätsel Dunkle Materie” [The riddle of dark matter]. It was broadcast yesterday. Before I say more about my experience with this let me do a flashback to the only other time in my life I appeared on TV. On that occasion the BBC visited our school. I guess I was perhaps twelve at the time although I do not know for sure. I was filmed reading a poem which I had written myself. I was seen sitting in a window of the Bishops’ Palace in Kirkwall, looking out. I suppose only my silhouette was visible. I no longer have the text of the poem. All I know is that the first line was ‘Björn, adventuring at last’ and that later on there was some stuff about ravens. At that time I was keen on Vikings. The poem was no doubt very heroic, so that the pose looking out the window was appropriate.

Coming back to yesterday, the documentary consisted of three main elements. There was a studio discussion with three guests – the only one I know personally is Simon White. There were some clips illustrating certain ideas. Thirdly there were short sequences from interviews with some other people. I was one of these people. They showed a few short extracts of the interview with me and I was quite happy with the selection they made. This means conversely that they nicely cut out things which I might not have liked so much. I was answering questions posed by one of the journalists and which were not heard on TV. They told me in advance that this would be the case. They told me that for this reason I should not refer to the question during my answers. I found this difficult to do and I think I would need some practice to do it effectively. Fortunately it seems that they efficiently cut out these imperfections. I did not know the questions in advance of the filming and this led to some hesitant starts in my answers. This also did not come through too much in what was shown. Summing up, it was an interesting experience and I would do it again if I had the chance. Of course being a studio guest would be even more interesting …

I found the documentary itself not so bad. I could have done without the part about religion at the end. Perhaps the inclusion of this is connected with the fact that the presenter of the series, Gert Scobel, studied theology and also has a doctorate in hermeneutics. (I had to look up that word to have an idea what it meant.) An aspect of the presentation which was a bit off track was that it gave the impression that the idea of a theory unifying general relativity and quantum theory was solely due to Stephen Hawking. Before ending this post I should perhaps say something about my own point of view on dark matter and dark energy. Of course they are symptoms of serious blemishes in our understanding of reality. I believe that dark matter and dark energy are better approaches to explaining the existing observational anomalies than any other alternative which is presently available. In the past I have done some work related to dark energy myself. The one thing that I do not like about a lot of the research in this area is that while people are very keen on proposing new ‘theories’ (which are often just more or less vague ideas for models) there is much less enthusiasm for working out these ideas to obtain a logically sound proposal. Of course that would be more difficult. A case study in this direction was carried out in the diploma thesis of Nikolaus Berndt which was done under my supervision. The theme was to what extent the so-called Cardassian models (do not) deserve to be called a theory. We later produced a joint publication on this. It has not received much attention in the research community and as far as I know has only been cited once.


3 Responses to “Me on TV”

  1. Uwe Brauer Says:


    I have seen maybe half of the show on the Internet, my connection broke down regularly and then the show started from the beginning, so I gave up after a while. I liked your comments, although it was a little odd to listen to your answers without questions asked before your answers.

    I must admit I liked the show less than your comments. One thing was the pathetic choice of words of the moderator (does our language have the tools to describe the deep riddles of the universe, dramatic pause…) the other even more annoying thing is the theory of everything stuff. Two remarks come into my mind.

    1. Even if a unified theory of all known interactions will be found in the future (at rigorously tested) it is hardly a theory of everything. Solar phenomena are thought to be described by Newtons theory of gravitation, electrodynamics and hydrodynamics. However solar phenomena are still poorly understood, which has to do with the fact that the formulation of equations is one thing, solving them an other (much more difficult one).
    2. I am strongly reminded on what appended to Max Planck when in the 19th century he was doubting whether to study music (he was highly gifted) or physics. The full professor of Physics (Ordinarius) at the University of Munich Phillip von Jolly told him: “in this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few holes.” Well we all know what happened…..


    Uwe Brauer

    • hydrobates Says:

      The use of the word ‘everything’ in this context is indeed peculiar. I did not know the story with Planck.


  2. science and math Says:

    You were on TV since you were 12!

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