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Bill Harlan

Two celebrities visited the Davis Campus on the 4850 Level on Tuesday.

Our famous guests were here with a documentary crew from the BBC taping segments for a two-part science documentary about ?how to build a planet.? The Sanford Lab segments will focus on the strength of gravity on the surface and underground and on the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter detector.

The gravity celebrity was a ceramic garden gnome created by Kern Precision Scales. The Kern gnome has travelled the world with a Kern scale, demonstrating how the force gravity differs at various locations. Previous stops included the South Pole (elevation 9,186 feet) and SNOLAB (depth 6,800 feet) in Canada.

The presenter for the documentary, including both segments taped here, is a flesh-and-blood celebrity?Richard Hammond, best known as a cohost for the popular BBC car show ?Top Gear.? That program features Hammond and his colleagues performing wild road tests in exotic locales. (Hammond declined to test drive a locomotive on the 4850 Level, warning that it would not be a wise decision. We?ll credit him with a thoughtful safety suggestion.)Hammond spent four hours underground expounding on the changing weight of the Kern gnome and discussing dark matter with LUX physicist Rick Gaitskell.

Though the British version of ?Top Gear? is not available on American television, you can find episodes on the Internet, and Hammond was recognized by fans both on the 4850 Level and up top in nearby Deadwood.

The BBC documentary will be delivered this summer. When it?s available, we?ll let you know how to find it.