Our eventful journey to KOI:3284.01 is complete. We had a fantastic afternoon yesterday at The White Building. Huge thanks to all the performers and the venue, all of whom pulled out the stops despite an array of hiccups right up to the last minute. It was the first show of this type we've done so we were grateful that the audience were wonderful, too.
Videos will follow soon, and to leave a little mystery (for now) we won't go into excessive detail about what happened. But in summary: we heard radio transmissions from an alien race, 'interpreted' by Chris Farnell; we found out what the sun sounds like from Dr Lewis Dartnell; we thought about the ethics of alien encounters with Dr Alan Penny; we drifted off to glorious spontaneous composition from classically trained hyperspace engineer LJ Rich; we came up with communication concepts for unknown species and were treated to on-the-fly art production in video by Kate Genevieve and Toby Harris – and we used our own skulls as a speaker with an alien-proof (or is it?) "radio" developed by Sinead McDonald and Jeffrey Roe. We also watched an unsettling briefing from Earth filmed & edited by Sinead with some brilliant acting from real-life rocket scientist and very good sport, Dr David McKeown.
Overseeing our flight was the wonderful Nadia Kamil, playing a slightly contemptuous flight attendant (First Class passengers were offered Ferrero Rochers; hopeful standard class hands were slapped away and offered a Fox's Glacier Mint instead). She sported, amongst other things, a pair of original "Arecibo mittens" designed and knitted by the extraordinary Sheffield artist Jan Hopkins to the pattern she devised for the latest issue. Modelled here by another HC contributor, Neil Hopkins...
There were so many people involved in this production and masses of invisible work. Several of the people involved were up till 3am on many nights, completing things in time. Sinead and Jeffrey worked like troupers to get the radio ready by the weekend against significant odds (Sinead brought it over from Dublin for the weekend, and it survived, and worked beautifully). Sinead also went out of her way to record the alien voice effects superbly in a professional recording studio.
Chris sought technical advice from Alby and other places to ensure our science was as sound as it could possibly be. Sinead collaborated with Chris extensively, and Kate collaborated with Lewis, all in the name of getting details right and doing things properly. Speaking of details, we unexpectedly ended up with no tech support during the show, but James stepped up at the last minute to do the sound. James also designed the brilliant crew ID badges we were all wearing, complete with personalised QR codes:
The wonderful elephant and acrobat mission badges we used on the stickers were designed by our principle magazine designer, James Rogers. The excellent Korg synth was loaned by HC alumni Matt Westcott who brought it all the way from *Oxford* on the train, for the day. There were some great posters around the room and on the way up, designed by Roxana Stoica. Back in Sheffield, James Jefferies spent at least a day working on a thermal printer to get it up to speed with the internet, and set to print our hashtag, only for us to discover the ethernet port was a mere rumour, and there were more pressing fires to put out.
The whole thing was filmed by Remi Stewart, who also stepped at extremely short notice and did a brilliant job.
Do check out Sinead's excellent write-up of the story behind her fascinating piece and Kate's 'Of The Spheres' project: http://ofthespheres.com. Find out how to make your own sphere: http://ofthespheres.com/share-your-sphere/.
Here's a quick slice of what everyone else said...