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Home > Press > "When Things Get Small" things get funny on UCTV

Not Too Serious Labs’ Production Premieres March 21

"When Things Get Small" things get funny on UCTV

Posted on March 08, 2006

What could a stadium-sized bowl of peanuts, a magic tennis ball, shrinking elephants, and a crazed hockey player possibly teach us about nanoscience? Not Too Serious Labs' production "When Things Get Small" - a departure from your typical science-for-television fare - uses these and other comic inventions to take viewers on a comically corny romp into the real-life quest to create the smallest magnet ever known. The program premieres March 21 at 9 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) on University of California Television (UCTV) and is also available on the web, video podcast, and for sale at

"When Things Get Small" is the first in the 'When Things Get…" series, produced for UCTV by Not Too Serious Labs, the creative collaboration of television producer Rich Wargo and renowned physicist Ivan Schuller, who also stars in the program. Not Too Serious Labs' mission is to make science funny and entertaining so you end up learning while you're laughing. The duo is planning its next production "When Things Get Big," a comical exploration of the gigantic machines used to investigate matter.

With a mix of entertaining effects and humor, "When Things Get Small's" witty host Adam Smith travels alongside comic physicist Ivan Schuller, visiting locations ranging from a Major League ballpark to a steaming hot tub to make sense of several important "nano" concepts. UC president Robert Dynes and Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres owner John Moores also drop by for cameo appearances.

The program has been shown to sneak preview audiences around the world, eliciting enthusiastic responses such as, "Makes science a hoot" and "It's 'Good Eats' for sciences," referring to a popular Food Network program. Survey results also indicate that over 90% of the preview audiences found the program both entertaining and informative.

"The preview responses are very encouraging," commented Not Too Serious Labs' Rich Wargo. "In developing the program, we found research indicating that people actually learn better when humor is involved. So there is a method, not just madness here, and it seems to be working." "When Things Get Small" was funded by the National Science Foundation, and produced by UCSD-TV in partnership with the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

"This program is a terrific example of the blending of science and entertainment, " stated Larry Smarr, Director of Calit2. "It fits wonderfully with Calit2's mission of helping the public understand what research organizations like ours are doing and how it might impact their lives."

UCTV is a 24-hour, non-commercial satellite channel that broadcasts the best in educational and enrichment programming from the campuses, national laboratories, and affiliated institutions of the University of California. UCTV delivers science, health and medicine, public affairs, humanities, and the arts to a general audience, as well as specialized programming for health care professionals and teachers. UCTV is available to over 16 million homes via:

  • Direct Broadcast Satellite: Dish Network Channel 9412
  • Internet: Live webcast, "video-on-demand" archives, audio and video podcasts (
  • Cable TV: In California and across the country (

Media Contact:
Alison Gang
(858) 822-5060

Copyright © University of California Television

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