[Sara's note: This is the original blog entry that sparked the roadtrip - the interview about the as-seen-on-TV beach ball that got us onto the Warner Brothers studio lot. How many beach balls can do that? This is part 2 of our Blueshift roadtrip series. We'll have the eagerly-anticipated Big Bang Theory set tour photos on Monday, in lieu of our weekly link round-up... and contests every day next week!]
Part of the fun of going to professional meetings is getting swag. You know what we mean – pens, USB drives, stress balls… once I even got some NASA hand sanitizer (true story!). I’ve also been on the other end of these convention giveaways. How do you choose something that has meaning? What if you want to go beyond a toy that someone will give to their kids or throw away in their hotel room – but that will actually have value? And furthermore, can you take something that seems like a giveaway toy, and turn it into a teaching tool?
Britt Griswold, who works on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), did just that. He took WMAP’s famous image of the early microwave universe and put it on a beach ball. Additionally, this beach ball can be seen in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment on the hit TV show about NASA nerds much like us, The Big Bang Theory! We spoke to him about why and how in this exclusive interview.
Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team