UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

Cal Band Reenacts Big Bang The Cal Band forms up, moments before transforming into an expanding universe!

Cal Band reenacts the Big Bang, with direction by Nobelist George Smoot

George Smoot Video Video: Cal Band Does the Big Bang (under the baton of George Smoot)
   Real logo Download Real Player

– The world, by some accounts, was created in seven days. Not to try and top that, but the Cal Band managed to reenact the Big Bang in the space of less than an hour.

The band was recruited by UC Berkeley astrophysicist George Smoot for a "creation" role in the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, at which he was presented the Nobel Prize in Physics for findings confirming the Big Bang theory. Back in November, Smoot asked the Cal Band for help in filming a video to be shown during the Nobel festivities on Sunday, December 10.

Smoot's Nobel lecture

George Smoot

See the video of George Smoot's Nobel lecture which took place December 8 at Stockholm University. Video

Additional links:

George F. Smoot awarded 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics (Comprehensive coverage including photos, video, and details about the science)

• The Nobel Prize website

Note: The video of the Cal Band shown here was produced by UC Berkeley and is distinct from the version created by the Nobel Committee.

"Professor Smoot came up to the band and asked if later that week, when we practiced at Memorial Stadium, we could do a formation like the universe forming. He wanted the band to form up a blob and reenact the Big Bang. That's what he asked," marveled Hanadi Shatara, the band's public relations director.

And so it came to pass that not long thereafter, Smoot addressed the members of the Cal Band, assembled in a modified blob midfield at Memorial Stadium. "It's a little more complicated than 'Go Bears,' but it's just as important!" said Smoot, grinning ear to ear.

Smoot mounted the tall ladder ordinarily used by Band Director Robert Calonico and delivered a short course in how the universe was created. "Now, I gotta tell you what the Big Bang is, so you guys can do this before the sun goes down … We're going to simulate a really smooth, hot, dense, early universe and spread out, and we're going to form structure — galaxies, stars, planets, and everything else," he explained. "Let's go for it. Go Bears! Go band!"

A marching band simulate the Big Bang? Mellophonist Jason Lo spoke for the Cal Band: "We can do this!"

Smoot continued with the cosmological choreography. "There's a brass section out there called tubas. They make a real spectacular spiral galaxy, a really big one like our own galaxy, or like Andromeda. You guys get to be near the middle, but you get to orient, and get to rotate with a twist up. You're like the centerpiece of all this. Go tubas!"

A member of the Swedish television crew filming this event for its showing during the Nobel festivities in Sweden said he had one question before the Cal Band began its rendition of the Big Bang. "What starts the Big Bang?" he asked.

Simple, said Smoot. "Drums!"

Watch the video Video >