Berkeley Band re-enacts the big bang
The world, by some accounts, was created in seven days. Not to try and top that, but a university band managed to re-enact the big bang in a period of less than an hour.
The band was recruited by University of California, Berkeley, astrophysicist George Smoot for a “creation” role in the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, at which he was presented the Nobel Prize in Physics for findings confirming the big bang theory. Back in November, Smoot asked the Berkeley band for help in filming a video to be shown during the Nobel festivities on Sunday, December 10, 2006.
Illustration: Sandbox Studio
“Professor Smoot came up to the band and asked if later that week, when we practiced at Memorial Stadium, we could do a formation like the universe forming. He wanted the band to form up a blob and re-enact the big bang. That's what he asked,” marveled Hanadi Shatara, the band's public relations director.
Not long after, Smoot addressed the members of the band, assembled in a modified blob midfield at Memorial Stadium. “It's a little more complicated than 'Go Bears,' but it's just as important!” said Smoot, grinning ear to ear.
Smoot mounted the tall ladder ordinarily used by band director Robert Calonico and delivered a short course in how the universe was created. “Now, I gotta tell you what the big bang is, so you guys can do this before the sun goes down… We're going to simulate a really smooth, hot, dense, early universe and spread out, and we're going to form structure—galaxies, stars, planets, and everything else,” he explained. “Let's go for it. Go Bears! Go band!”
A marching band simulate the big bang? Mellophonist Jason Lo spoke for the band: “We can do this!”
Smoot continued with the cosmological choreography. “There's a brass section out there called tubas. They make a real spectacular spiral galaxy, a really big one like our own galaxy, or like Andromeda. You guys get to be near the middle, but you get to orient, and get to rotate with a twist up. You're like the centerpiece of all this. Go tubas!”
A member of the Swedish television crew filming this event said he had one question before the band began its rendition of the big bang. “What starts the big bang?” he asked.
Simple, said Smoot. “Drums!”
Jeffery Kahn, University of California, Berkeley
Watch a video of the performance online. (RealPlayer format)
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