Wednesday, December 19, 2007

this week: abseiling into an exploding hippopotamus

Good to see Ian Stewart back running around and gurning Scottishly into the camera at unnecessarily close range on BBC2 in Earth: The Power Of The Planet. I was perhaps unnecessarily harsh in my earlier diatribe relating to his earlier series Journeys From The Centre Of The Earth, though there is a certain amount of unnecessarily hyperactive running about and jumping into holes, the sea, live volcanoes, etc. for no good reason. Watch the clips and note how, even when he's just doing a piece to camera (though it'll probably be while dangling into a crevasse on a rope) he waggles his entire upper body and head around, just to inject the necessary dynamism and urgency.

Now I wouldn't want you to think that I disapprove of the series in a general sense - far from it. It's a lavishly budgeted exploration of what is, pretty much by definition, one of the most fascinating subjects there is - how the Earth was formed, how it developed into the state it's in today and what's likely to happen to it in the future. I just question, in a friendly and enquiring manner, whether the relentless crazy camera angles and regular stripping off and diving into lagoons really helps - i.e. the notion that science isn't particularly exciting unless you're performing the necessary calculations while tobogganing backwards down a glacier on a hollowed-out giant redwood careering towards a boiling lava lake full of radioactive sharks.

But it's probably just me. Top marks for being unequivocal about global warming, and for bringing up a few interesting topics, e.g. the periodic drying-up and re-flooding of the Mediterranean basin, the Chicxulub meteor impact which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the hypothesis explaining the unusually close relationship between the Earth and the Moon.

7 comments:

The Black Rabbit said...

I read this and it tickled me!

" I just question, in a friendly and enquiring manner, whether the relentless crazy camera angles and regular stripping off and diving into lagoons really helps - i.e. the notion that science isn't particularly exciting unless you're performing the necessary calculations while tobogganing backwards down a glacier on a hollowed-out giant redwood careering towards a boiling lava lake full of radioactive sharks".

Very good! Thanks for that!

Let me try to respond in a gentle, friendly, manner...

I do understand that you feel a tad upset by this sensationalism in science, on television in particular.
I think its fair to point out (again?) that this sadly, is probably necessary these days bate.

I think science is er... cool.
You do too, I take it.
Our love of science is not generally reciprocated in the younger generations though.
It for them, is VERY often, deeply uncool.

Its a real problem.
How does one tackle it and produce new generations of scientists. How does one spark an interest?

Well, I guess one way is to er.... jazz it up a little with your "boiling lava lakes and radioactive sharks".

Will that work?
Well.... I certainly hope so.

I guess one could argue that potential scientists (kids studying science) afer watching all this sensationalist science on tv would demand nothing less from the industry when (if) eventually taking employment and a career in it.
I doubt it though. I hope not.

So....
Its a shame yes.
But probably necessary. Yes. I think so.
Unless you have another approach?

electrichalibut said...

No, I certainly agree with the general desire to promote an interest in science, and I'm poking fun in a pretty friendly way, really, as I enjoyed the programmes greatly.

"Proper" science involves a lot of doing tedious but highly necessary experiments, hard sums, etc. etc. before you get to do the bit where you hang-glide into a whale shark. It's only worth getting more people through the door if more of them come out the other end with degrees and stuff, rather than just saying "well, this isn't what I expected. Where's my rocket pack?" and dropping out to go and work in Starbuck's or be bleedin' graphic designers or something.

Kids today, eh?

The Black Rabbit said...

I feel very guilty.
I think I missed these programmes by fucking watching Gordon fucking Ramsay on the other fucking side.
I fucking think so, any fucking way.

nicola said...

I've pre-ordered the DVD on Amazon of this series as a friend in Blighty told me about it and told me that I was missing out not watching it and went on about how wikid the series is. It comes out in the New Year, and will see me through my couch potato stage in January before sprogging another frog.

electrichalibut said...

"Sprogging another frog". Ah, the sacred mysteries of childbirth. Demi-frog, surely, anyway? Demi-tadpole, perhaps.

nicola said...

yes, "demi-tadpole", that's a better term. Especially as my first tadpole is definitely only "demi" and says "YES" to every question (and NEVER says "oui" : I'm very proud about that, but think it may be short-lived) and is heavily into Thomas the Tank Engine (which doesn't exist in Frogland): I'm trying to make him as Brit as possible.. Isn't that the right thing to do?

The Black Rabbit said...

YES. TIS.

Has he got his present yet from his Oncle Doog and Tante Anna?