Breaking News!

March 10th, 2008

So, I’ve commented off and on and here and there about a new show being produced by Revision3 in which I get to play the mad scientist. Oh, oops… sorry, that’s the RAD Scientist. My segment, called Rad Science, is part of an amazing program called PopSiren that was just released to the public today. It’s first official showing will be today at 12 noon. You can find the show at Revision3‘s website.

PopSiren is hosted by Jessica Corbin and Sarah Lane (both of Tech TV fame), and features cool DIY tips, tricks, and projects for girls and boys. Neha Tiwari is the resident Nerd Bird, and I get to do science. Yay! My favorite. PopSiren is produced and directed by Heather Frank.

The reason that I initially became excited about this project was that I would have the opportunity to work with four amazing women, each with unique strengths and interests. The combination could be nothing more than amazing. And, so far it has. Each week I am absolutely impressed by the abilities these women bring to the table. What a fantastic experience!So, my first week on the job was the craziest experience ever. I was in the process of moving from Davis to SF with way to much stuff on my plate when Heather asked if I could have a segment ready for the following week. Of course, I said yes. I spent the week trying to fit my research for the segment in between packing boxes and cleaning nooks and crannies. The idea I came up with was inspired by watching a few sciencey videos on the internet. However, it was kind of involved and required the building of a fairly large apparatus – a Ruben’s Tube.

Enter my friends: thanks to the help of the amazing people in my life everything came together. Of course, it was all at the 11th hour, but it got done. We moved on a very rainy Saturday, and on Sunday the script was written and the Ruben’s Tube was built. We tested it sometime around midnight the night before the PopSiren shoot. Everything worked beautifully.The next day I hauled everything down to the Revision3 studios (and totally felt like a crazy person with this giant aluminum tube in my arms as I walked down the street) for the shoot. Once I was all set up, I had to deal with the actual recording. OMG! Tele-prompters?!? This was going to be interesting. It is actually quite difficult to read from a tele-prompter and NOT look like you’re reading. I guess you learn something new everyday, and today was the lesson in tele-prompters. We went through the segment a couple of times and then moved on to recording. It all went surprisingly smoothly. What a relief when it was over. I really wanted to do a good job, and I think that I did. My secret was to make sure I had fun. Not terribly hard when I’m playing with fire. 😉

What does a Ruben’s tube have to do with fire? Well, the Ruben’s tube, also known as a flame tube, is named after Heinrich Rubens (1865 – 1922), a German physicist who used to hang out with the likes of Max Planck. While he is better known for his role in working out quantum theory, he used his knowledge of sound and pressure to create the first flame tube. A flame tube consists of a pipe, sealed at one end, with holes drilled along its length. the unsealed end of the pipe houses a speaker. Flammable gas is pumped into the tube. When the gas begins to escape through the little holes, the gas is lit. It looks like lots of little candles. Then sound is transmitted to the tube via the speaker. This is where the fun starts.

Sound is a physical effect of the movement of matter. Some initial force creates waves of pressure that push air particles into and past each other. So, when the speaker is turned on it creates sound waves in the tube. The waves act on the gas in the tube, compressing it, and pushing it out through the little holes. Because of the tube itself, it is possible to visualize the standing waves of sound in the flames on top of the tube. The flame tube demonstrates the physical aspect of sound that is normally invisible to the human eye.Fun, right? I thought so. You can see what my friends and I built on PopSiren’s launch episode.

Check it out!

12 Responses to “Breaking News!”

  1. Sam on March 10, 2008 12:58 pm

    Exciting news, looking forward to it.

    On the paragraph thing: are you using Safari, by any chance? I’ve had similar problems with Safari, something not quite working right with WordPress’s WYSIWYG editor. Remembering to use Firefox when I’m blogging has done the trick for me.

  2. Eric on March 11, 2008 2:33 am

    Just saw your segment on PopSiren, and I’m hooked! You took a great experiment and made it even more fun. I don’t know which was more fun to watch bouncing around- you or the fire! I’m looking forward to your next segment.

    What was the song you were playing?

  3. Tim on March 11, 2008 8:37 am

    I watched the show last night on Neha’s website and thought it was a really fun show. It’s good to see all the talented women at Rev3 putting something out. You reminded me of a cool new Mr. Wizard!

  4. Well-known scientist on March 11, 2008 1:51 pm

    What an exciting news! It was wonderful job and probably great opportunity for you. Good luck with WordPress’ automatic paragraphing problem.

  5. Mostly Lisa on March 12, 2008 3:59 am

    nice job on popsirens. back when i was in grad school, i used that same explanation of sound waves in “intro to acoustics” classes… except i used a slinky as a demo tool. i never thought to set it on fire. hmm… a good thought though. maybe i can make a DIY project out of it as well.

  6. Ed Dyer on March 12, 2008 6:27 pm

    Great show. I so want my own fire tube.

    It was a fast paced episode with a lot of useful info.
    I will go to Instapaper, it looks like a useful site.

    I look forward to future shows.

  7. jeffrey hardesty on March 13, 2008 4:00 pm

    I saw your interview with “ultimate ears”, and you talked about getting yourself a pair. Which ones do you recommend.

    thanks, jeffrey

  8. Kirsten Sanford on March 18, 2008 1:23 pm


    IF you can afford it, the best are the pro-level, custom phones, just because they will fit your ear perfectly. The best general use, consumer level phones are the super-fi pros. A bit pricey, but sooooo worth it.

  9. Kirsten Sanford on March 18, 2008 1:25 pm

    Sam! You totally fixed my paragraph problem. It was all a Safari issue. Thank you!

  10. Thaed on March 20, 2008 7:42 pm

    I happened to be watching Revision 3 and I turned on Popsiren and suddenly there was a very familiar voice. Then I thought, hmmm, that sounds like Kirsten from TWIS. No one else could be that erudite. How delightful to see that you have moved to video!

  11. George on March 21, 2008 3:09 pm

    That Ruben’s tube was so bad-ass I had to pause it, rewind and watch it again. A friend of mine instantly proposed we make one for someone’s backyard. Any music fanatic would be obsessed with something like this: a freaky-awesome visualizer for music.

  12. Mikael on March 28, 2008 5:21 pm

    Hi, Kirsten! Great job with the show so far. I’m really enjoying it.

    You wouldn’t by any chance know the name of the song you played during the Ruben’s Tube segment?

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