Support Provided ByLearn More

Joe's Behind-the-Scenes Journal

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Receive emails about upcoming NOVA programs and related content, as well as featured reporting about current events through a science lens.

Click here for Joe’s profile.

Today’s post is from our rocker/scientist Joe DeGeorge.

First of all, this is an amazing project. I think that getting to know scientists as human beings and hearing them talk like regular people brings out the passion behind their scientific work. Growing up, I was always struck by the characters of fictitious scientists like Doc Brown from “Back to the Future,” “Beakman,” and some of the characters from Isaac Asimov’s books. These eccentric but completely logical characters were, subconsciously, a big part of my initial gravitation toward science. But I didn’t know very much about the personal lives of any real scientists. Here at SLoS you get to know real scientists, and I think that is valuable, especially if you’re a young person who is just beginning to become fascinated with science.

Support Provided ByLearn More
Joe on our set in his NASA gear.

I was shocked when SLoS contacted me because it sounded like they were interviewing a bunch of accomplished scientists with cool hobbies. I am by no means an accomplished scientist, and sometimes it feels like science is more like my hobby since I spend a bunch of money to study it. And more people know me from my band about Harry Potter than from my scientific work. Still, I told my professor about the interview, and he said it seemed worthwhile to take a day off from the lab. Within weeks, I was on a train headed to NYC for the interview.

On the morning of the interview, I got to eat at Doughnut Plant. If you’re in New York, you should check it out. They have amazing new doughnut technology that can get cream filling in the ring of doughnut—cream filling in a doughnut with a hole in the middle. Welcome to the future!

SLoS producer Tom "Oz" Miller

Fueled up on doughnuts, I arrived at the studio and tried to write a SLoS theme song while I waited until Rich Robinson finished his interview with the crew. I didn’t wind up writing a theme song, but I did get interviewed. The camera setup was a little weird. The interviewer sits behind a curtain, and I could only see him on a screen where the camera lens was. They do this so you end up looking directly at the camera. It took awhile before I became more at ease with the man-behind-the-curtain scenario. I kept making a lot of Wizard of Oz jokes in between questions, which I thought was more than appropriate. They were just asking for it.

I hope you enjoy the interview. The editors on this project are really good. Props to them. Also, if you have questions, you can ask them in the comments here and I will answer them. Or if this is 2019 and the site hasn’t been updated in nine years, then you can just email me at

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.