David Pogue: 'Extremely eco-aware'
He hosts PBS' 'Nova ScienceNow'.
Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Photo courtesy WGBH
Bring up green living with journalist, author and TV host David Pogue and he declares, "You're talking to the right guy," and proceeds to outline the many ways his family is "extremely eco-aware at home. We have thermostats that automatically shut off the heating and cooling. They can 'see' the room; they turn off automatically when no one's in the house. We are maniacal recyclers. More importantly, eco-awareness is a big part of my TV career," he says, noting a series of stories he's worked on about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that he did for "CBS Sunday Morning." "Next I'm going to take a plastic bottle and follow it with a camera crew."
On shoots for PBS' "Nova ScienceNow," he adds, "I have been known to carry the entire crew's empties across three airports and the entire United States trying to find a recycling bin. Often I don't ever find one in any airport and I have to recycle them at home." Pogue took over as host of "ScienceNow" this season from astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, "who would just appear at the beginning and end the show; they would have correspondents do the interviews." As those familiar with Immersive style would expect, "I'm in every scene, thrown into the middle of things. I think it's a great fit. The idea was to remake the show in that way and then they started coming up with the stories and threw me in."
The Oct. 24 installment "How Smart Can We Get?" focuses on the brain, with segments on Einstein's brain, memorization tricks, and autistic savants whose brains compensate in extraordinary ways for parts that have shut down. The theme of nature vs. nurture plays out in stories about improving brain function and memory, but the consensus is that your behavior can help but it will take you only so far: true genius is the luck of the DNA draw.
The following episode, "Can I Eat That?" (Oct. 31) is about the science of food. "I witnessed them developing a new cookie for Mrs. Fields, comparing chemical extracts and figuring out what would give it the cookie smell," Pogue relates. "You add vanilla to make it taste a certain way and yeast to make it puff up and give it the texture you want. All of cooking is chemicals and adding ingredients for effect."
Pogue is especially excited about the Nov. 7 episode "What are Animals Thinking?" which includes an experiment involving dogs that indicated the canines could feel jealousy, and a race against homing pigeons. "They put me in a windowless van and drove an hour out to the desert in Arizona with a pigeon in a box next to me and told me that I was going to race this pigeon home. I wasn't allowed to use my iiPhone or maps. It beat me by about eight hours."
Pogue, who hosted "Making Stuff" for PBS, will start filming four more episodes in November about making stuff colder, faster, wilder — "which pertains to wild animals, and safer, which sounds like the most boring episode but it will be the most exciting episode because it will put me in all sorts of dangerous situations."
On the book front, "I do a series of computer books called the 'Missing Manual' series and every year I update the ones on iPhone, Windows, Mac OS X," he says, and it's proved to be perpetual employment. Notes Pogue, "It's a hell year where there are new versions of all these things."