Beware the Internet

This might be a little too self referential, but I Amazoned myself yesterday, and got a minor shock.

Scrolling down the list of my stuff, and other people’s work that cited mine (it ranged from a history of debates about organic agriculture to a study of James Joyce and another of the music of Emerson Lake and Palmer, which ain’t bad given what I actually write about), I found one publication that stood out — a sixty page memoir about a supernova explosion published by WGBH in January, 1987, somehow produced under the auspices of the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources (sic!).   Sadly, for another publication is always welcome, I don’t actually remember writing this epic.

Now, as it happens, I did write an NSF grant that spring to raise some extra cash to allow a NOVA team to respond rapidly to the detection of Supernova 1987A, and I may have helped out with the teacher’s guide — I really don’t remember. But it was a very talented producer, Robin Bates, ably assisted by Kathy White, who actually made the film, which was broadcast that October under the title “Death of a Star.” While I was Science Editor for the NOVA series at the time, I basically just held their coats and cheered them on as they made a very nice program.

I certainly had no contact with the underground folks in New Mexico, and unless some evil twin came up with sixty pages on how all the gold in the ground (and much else besides) gets made in supernovae explosions, I have no idea where this comes from.

(Worse — I’ve turned up a couple of sites while putting this post together that show me as the producer of this film. I wasn’t. None of the credit goes to me).

The Moral of This Story:

Don’t believe everything you read on the innertubes.

Image: Hubble Space Telescope time series of images of Supernova 1987a; instrument: WFPC2 (those who care will know). Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Challis, and a former video victim of mine, the inimitable Robert Kirshner.

Explore posts in the same categories: astronomy, caveat lector, internet follies, television

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