Hakeem Oluseyi might be the world’s only down to Earth astrophysicist. See what I did there? A professor of Physics & Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology where he currently leads a research group at FIT that “hacks stars to understand the fundamental interactions of plasmas and electromagnetic fields, develop new in-space propulsion technologies, and investigate Galactic structure and evolution.”
My eyes glazed over just typing all that out.
When he’s not conducting important research, or watching way too much NBA, Hakeem is one of the hosts of Outrageous Acts of Science on the Science Channel. One of the most-watched shows of 2015, OAS is back for another starting tonight, June 22nd, at 9pm. The series features clips from the Internet that showcase human ingenuity and amazing feats (basically all the videos we post here everyday) and enlists a team of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) experts to explain the actual science behind the stunts.
“There was this guy trying to set the world kiteboarding record,” Hakeem explained, “and when he broke the record the guy was actually traveling faster than the wind. The kite can only go as fast as the wind goes, so how can that possibly happen? Some of it is biology, some of it is engineering, some of it is chemistry, it’s a whole group of things going on that we help explain to viewers. We explain the science of what’s happening and what’s the universe doing to make this all possible.”
The home videos aren’t the only amazing thing on Outrageous Acts of Science — the cast itself is pretty insane.
“When I first got on the show, what first blew me away was the cast,” Hakeem recalls. “When you think about the typical people in these fields of study, it’s natural to stereotype and think of older white males. The people on this show are younger, much cooler, and there might even be more women on the show than men. These aren’t the typical boring scientists.”
Hakeem believes that not only makes the show more accessible to a wider audience but also makes the cast more relatable. It might even lead to people being more open to exploring a career in the fields of science, math or tech. Hakeem himself isn’t the typical labcoat-wearing astrophysicist. Dubbed the “gangsta nerd“, Hakeem grew up in poverty in the Louisiana, or as he explained it, “I grew up in the hood with an extra emphasis on hood“.
“People watch the show and the videos and saw ‘I see it, I get it, and I think I’m going to study more about it or pursue a career in it or go back to school for it.”
While the show encourages science as a life choice, it also might encourage people to be a little more adventurous in backyard experimenting. That can be a good, or sometimes bad, thing.
“While the videos on the show are usually successful attempts at experimenting,” Hakeem laughs, “there’s always a disclaimer of ‘don’t try this at home.'”
For more about Outrageous Acts of Science, check out the official website.