It's the biggest magnet lab in the world. And we're coming in with loads of metal television gear. What can go wrong?!
Producer's Journal: MegaLabs
By: Denise Kimmel
We're shooting three different labs here:
1) the world's strongest magnet -- it weighs about the same as four elephants
2) a chemical lab taking fractions of drops of oil from the Gulf of Mexico and seeing if they came from Deepwater Horizon oil spill
3) The world's strongest MRI -- which can even see the sodium in your body
We're first told a few crews over the years have lost entire episodes because their cameras (which record on metal based tape) got a bit too close to the giant magnet on site. Luckily, we now have digital based cameras. But ... just in case ... after we shoot each lab we're ripping our camera disc out of the camera and storing it separately!
All goes well until about three quarters of the way into our day. "What's happening?!" is not a comforting sound when it's coming from your cameraguy.
We're shooting about 30 feet from the most powerful MRI in the world. It's so strong they don't allow anyone in who's done machine shop work because the magnet in the unit would pull any tiny stray metal shavings lodged in their body right back out (!). And now the viewfinder on our camera is acting up. Not a good sign.
But we make do and soldier on. After all, the last thing we'll shoot today is someone throwing a football with a metal washer tucked inside it towards the strongest magnet in the world. Can't miss that!