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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Former MIT Students on TV by Matt McGann '00

Two in a flattering way, one in a potentially embarassing way.

Now that most application deadlines have passed, you may be interested in catching up on some TV. This month, you can see (at least) three former MIT students on the tube.

This month, PBS is having competition where viewers choose which of three new science programs will get picked up for a full run. One of the shows, WIRED Science, is co-hosted by an MIT alumna, Aomawa Shields ’97. You can watch the pilot episode online or on your iPod. Aomawa was Course 12 (Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, or EAPS) and was a member of the a cappella group the Muses.

Aomawa is also a contributor to the new book She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff, having written an essay about her career as an astronomer. Other contributors to the book include Diana Husmann ’08, a junior in Course 8 (Physics), and Ellen Spertus ’90, who was named “Sexiest Geek Alive” in 2001.

Speaking of geeks, tonight on the CW television network (home of one of my favorite shows, Veronica Mars) is the second episode of the third season of the reality show Beauty and the Geek. The concept of the show is to take eight geeky guys and pair them with eight beautiful women in a competition for $250,000. A fairly standard reality show, I suppose. There are now versions of the show in England, Estonia, Italy, and, with my favorite translated title, Norway (Prinsessen og Professoren — “The Princess and the Professor”).

Matt Herman ’06 is one of the contestants this season. Matt majored in Course 18 (Math) and won the annual Pi recitation contest (he knows 180 digits, not bad). One thing they don’t tell you on the show is that Matt was President of his fraternity.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, fellow “geek” Nate, a Harvard student, was asked about the three contestants from Cambridge:

Q: There’s only one MIT geek on the show, but two from Harvard. Does that mean Harvard is outpacing MIT’s geek quotient?

A: It could be. Or it could be that the potency of geekiness is that much stronger at MIT – you need two Harvard geeks to equal just one MIT geek.

My friend Ankur Mehta ’03 was a contestant on the previous season of Beauty and the Geek, coming in third place. You may remember him from a “40 Year Old Virgin”-esque chest waxing scene. Here’s how Ankur was cast:

At the end of last summer, the WB recruited heavily from MIT, a school reputed to have plenty of geeks to spare. Ankur, an alumnus from East Campus, heard about the auditions through ec-discuss, an e-mail discussion list for East Campus residents. He purchased a bright purple tuxedo, made a duct tape bow tie, and arrived at the audition with a couple of friends. The producers loved him, and he was cast into the world of reality television.

And tomorrow night on the CBS network, you can watch James Woods on the legal drama Shark. Woods was Course 17 (Political Science) at MIT and served as President of the theater group Dramashop, but dropped out of MIT one semester short of graduation to pursue acting. Based on his Emmy awards, I’d say he’s been pretty successful anyway.

Anyone seen any of these shows?

18 responses to “Former MIT Students on TV”

  1. Mollie says:

    I want there to be a gender-reversed, one-gender-only Beauty and the Geek. Am I the only female alive who likes to read Science and Cosmopolitan in the same day? I don’t think so.

  2. dally '11 says:

    NO WAY about James Woods! That guy (and Shark!! zomg) is seriously the best, and now I find out he went to MIT… my life has just gotten four times better.

  3. Laura says:

    I’m holding out for the reversed-gender version of Beauty and the Geek. Geek girls get no love in pop culture. *grumbles*

  4. Kristina says:

    Yeah, I totally second the reversed-gender bid for Beauty and the Geek. That’d be an interesting twist.

  5. Jess says:

    Oh man, Matt was so close to being kicked off tonight. I cheered when the other guy answered the manicure question wrong. I mean.. I was studying for my EMT test tomorrow. What?!

  6. blizz says:

    I agree with the whole gender-reversed Beauty and the Geek. I saw the season Ankur was in in a marathon. I love you Ankur!!!! My friend memorized 419 digits in our schoolwide pi-day contest. Talk about free-time.

  7. Anonymous says:

    180 digits of pi? A few years back, I memorized 210 digits of pi, but I didn’t think that was a lot. I could have won the contest!

    From Wikipedia: “The current world record is 100,000 decimal places, set on October 3, 2006 by Akira Haraguchi.”

  8. Karin says:

    I discovered Beauty and the Geek last week and it is soooo entertaining (and embarrassing for my gender).
    I was thinking the same thing. When will the reversed-gender version finally come about?

  9. bhushan says:

    this things makes me more enthusiastic to get into MIT

  10. bhushan says:

    Matt we can’t wait make the Decision available now pleazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  11. Aaron says:

    First Post! Isn’t flattering spelt flattering? smile

  12. Nikhil says:

    Mmm, ‘standard reality TV’ indeed. Cool! Always awesome to read about the alumni and their fantastic exploits. (Beauty and the Geek?… What?!)

  13. Confuzled says:

    I envy Matt Herman right now.

    I had a quick question about the Mid-year school report. Are international students supposed to send it in? It mentions that it is to be used only for students in US based high schools. How are we supposed to update the admissions office of our performance in senior year? TIA.

  14. hey, im an international student and my school sent away my material on december 21st, but its still not processed…is that normal or is it maybe lost?

  15. Hilde says:

    You forgot the version of ‘Beauty and the Geek’ of the Netherlands & Flanders (dutch speaking part of Belgium), here called ‘Beauty en the Nerd’ (welllll at least they translated the ‘and’). My initial reaction too was ‘they sooo have to make a reversed-gender version’, nice to see that I’m not the only one in favour of this! =) Veronica Mars is my favourite show from the US btw! I love it!

    Am I the only female alive who likes to read Science and Cosmopolitan in the same day?
    Nope! smile I for one combine debugging the C++ pseudo operating system Nachos in gdb on the linux operating system at 4 in the morning with reading fashion blogs. My linux has a really cute pink wallpaper! And I can spend as much time on reading analyses of grandmaster’s chess games as on fixing my hair & make-up before going out. (Which from time to time both can be categorized under ‘too much’) =)

  16. Q says:

    Whoohoo! Matt won in the faceoff elimination tonight, YEAH. I want him to win, he’s my favorite!

  17. K says:

    hiya Hilde…you bet im just like you…hope we make good frenz once we get into MIT….i can spend hours programming VB and whoa…i can spend hours wid cosmo too…..kewl !!

  18. Susan says:

    You forgot the most relevant alum of all: Dylan Bruno, Course 1 grad and “Num3rs” cast member. Interestingly enough, as probably the most mathematically talented member of the cast, he plays the lunkhead ex-jock character.