I know a guy who knows Conan O’Brien. I mean, this is pretty freaky: how often is a piece of lab equipment in the place where you did your undergrad thesis mentioned on TV?
Here is Conan, setting up the problem:
And here is Prof. Fisher with the solution:
“8.02″ is actually the electromagnetism class. Side note: it was during my electromagnetism class that, halfway through a ninety-minute lecture, Prof. Fisher said, “A student just told me that a plane hit the World Trade Center. . . .” My first thought was of a problem in my high-school algebra textbook, about a B-25 which hit the Empire State Building (task: calculate how long the people on the street below have to get out of the way of the falling wreckage). Later, I found I wasn’t alone in that reaction: at least a half-dozen students in my materials science class had the same response.
Anyway, on with the story:
One point which should be mentioned is that, strictly speaking, one trial isn’t enough to demonstrate that removing the air from around the ring is ineffective. But hey, this is TV.
Tip o’ the fedora to Flavin the Gateway Skeptic.
EDIT: Curses. The second and third videos have been removed from YouTube. You may be able to watch them on NBC’s website, if you have Adobe Flash Player 9. I may or may not have updated this post to embed new copies of those videos, which may or may not exist on YouTube.