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Alan Responds

How did you get this dream job?

Chedd-Angier, the producers of Frontiers, wrote me a letter and asked if I'd be interested in hosting the show. I said I was, and asked if they were interested in letting me interview scientists. They said they were and we began working together, discovering as we went along what has become a unique way to do a science show. I've had a lifelong interest in science and the chance to meet with scientists and help in getting their work on screen and in presenting a realistic, three-dimensional picture of what scientists are like was exciting to me. After several years of doing the show, I'm happy to say it still is.

What was your favorite Frontiers show to do?

Each and every one in which I emerged alive.

Have you implemented anything that you learned from this program into your own life?

Yes, I never go looking for sharks or rattle snakes. I don't bother them. They don't bother me.

What is the most dangerous thing you've ever done on the show?

It's hard to decide. I've sat looking down into a volcano that could blow at any moment; I've helped catch a shark and several rattlesnakes; I let a tarantula walk across my hand, and I ate rat soup. The one thing I refused to do was feed a cute little baby seal with a bottle because the scientists mentioned that if it bit me its saliva could be lethal. I think maybe I don't know how to pick the safe ones.

What is the funniest part of doing the show?

Probably our cameraman, Peter Hoving. He's not only an extraordinarily talented director of photography, he also breaks us up and relaxes us with a bizarre sense of humor. He's a tremendous asset to the show.

If the show wanted you to go to the moon, or other planet, would you do it?

I've learned not even to get up on a tall ladder on this show without asking a lot of questions first. And as for space travel, I've interviewed a number of astronauts and other space scientists and I'm surprised by what a toll on the body prolonged weightlessness takes. I think I'll keep the earth under my feet until they work that one out.

What is your favorite animal?

The human one. Understanding that one seems to be our toughest challenge. Among non-human animals, I guess chimps. Then, maybe nematodes. I've watched them under a microscope, and although they only live for a couple of weeks, they seem to have such a good time. They've also provided science over the years with a lot of important information. Possibly, not as much as the fruit fly, though, and they have a REALLY good time. So, okay, fruit flies.



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