A techie's world

Tuned in

From rescue robots to the world’s largest band, Discovery Science’s new show, ‘How Tech Works’, takes you on a scientific adventure. Asha Chowdary talks to the show’s host, Dr Basil Singer, about his love for science & more... 

Can a robot form an alliance with a rescue dog? Can your bath water become your computer touch screen? Can the body adapt to extreme weather conditions? Not sure about any of the above? Then, it’s time to catch the fire and passion of Dr Basil Singer, science geek and television presenter, who invites you to explore the world of science with him, through one of the hottest shows that is now on air on Discovery Science.

In an exciting series of adventures, where you could be soaring through the sky in the world’s newest and largest military plane one minute, or plunged the next minute into the depths of the blue Pacific with robots that take you where men have never gone before, there is always the promise of high adrenaline adventure right through.

You could be whisked away to a home where a paraplegic learns to walk with a robotic device, or driven down the highways where electric vehicles whizz by at never before speeds, or seated at a concert with a band that boasts of the largest drum set on earth. 

In the show, you also get to see experiments with search-and-rescue robots that can go where no human can. You would watch as they detonate landsmines in Morocco with a safe, wind-powered device, inspired by a child’s toy. As you sit at the edge of your seat watching the show, with your heart racing and mind transfixed, you suddenly realise that you have discovered only a miniscule part of the infinite possibilities of science.

A scientific temperament

In an exclusive interview with Singer, host of the show How Tech Works, the scientist says he is excited about the stories that are on the programme. “The show is full of really cool things,” he says, adding, “For example, here’s one my favourites. Today people use a mouse or a keyboard to operate their computers. But did you know that there is a new interface like water that is possible now? I find the idea exciting. You can project the computer on your bathwater and touch the water to interact with your computer.”

Singer, who is also passionate about drums, is thrilled about a percussion-based story on his show. “The viewer gets to watch the largest band in the world play for them. If you stand too close to this band, you could go deaf,” he says.

Creating these shows was not easy, but for someone like Singer who loves science, each step that went into the production of the shows was exciting. “We begin with scouring scientific journals and techie websites and blogs to find the latest tech stories. Then, I send a team of people to interview the people behind stories that involve cutting edge technology. My job is to pull my favourite stories together and present them to you.”

The best part of his job is the fact that there are many emotional moments in these stories too. Singer explains, “My job is to make robots and robotics is my passion. One of my stories on the show was about an exoskeleton that was a robot. It is designed for those who are paralysed for life from waist down. They wear this device and try to walk in them. It is the first time in their lives for some of them, and an emotional moment for us.”

Looking back, Singer says he was always interested in science. “As a child, I was constantly exposed to the subject. My father was an engineer and he would often bring home various components for me to play with. I got into science very early.”

Starting young

Singer says that science is such a major part of our lives now that it is no wonder that many people love technology and science itself. “I have a five-month-old daughter who can already play with my iPad. She loves to play Fruit Ninja. Youngsters are subjected to such awesome technology so young that they soak it up all their lives.”

Singer is a quantum physicist, but he is also passionate about skateboarding and kite surfing. He has also been described as an “extreme scientist” who is “equally adept at freezing atoms to the point of absolute zero, or catching monumental air with his kite board.” 

Singer loves to speak about his hobby of surfing. “Maybe you’ve heard that the weather in England has been stormy recently and there has been some terrible flooding in some regions. But these storms have helped create some fantastic surf in the waters and I have been going surfing often. I work from 9 am to 7 pm, but when the surf is good, I tell people I am going out for a meeting. What I really do is take out my surfboard from my car and go surfing.”

Singer loves to experience much of the technology himself, though he is only involved in presenting the show now. “Earlier, I have done some of the tech stories like experiencing extreme temperatures. In experiments like this, you learn so much about your own body. It is amazing how the body adapts itself and protects the organs in extreme conditions.”

Fitness levels need to be high for a person to do shows like this and he works hard at staying fit. “I trained to do the Ironman Triathalon and I also like to play squash every week,” he adds. Singer is looking forward to the fourth season of this tech-driven show. “The message of the show is to open people’s eyes to the fantastic world of science around them. It will also give them a view of technology that they may not have seen or heard about yet, but can now view on television,” he signs off. 

How Tech Works premieres tomorrow and will air on weekdays at 9 pm, on Discovery Science.

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