December 23rd, 2010

never there

Wonders of the Solar System; Delphi: The Bellybutton of the Ancient World

We started off TV night a bit late, having spent a while working out which RB3 songs we wanted to download out of the last few weeks' DLC, so only got 2 programmes in. First up was the third episode of Wonders of the Solar System - talking about atmospheres. Obviously started off with the Earth's atmosphere - and Cox got to go up in a Lightning jet to the top of the atmosphere so he could see what it looked like (and film it, obviously). That looked awesomely cool - vertical takeoff and way way way up in the sky (I'd never do it, I'd hate it, doesn't stop it being cool!). Also covered were why Mercury has no atmosphere, how the atmosphere slows down meteors (and thus Mercury has way more craters than the Earth), Venus's runaway greenhouse effect, Mars's loss of atmosphere (solidifying core meant no more magnetic field, meant solar wind could strip the atmosphere), Jupiter being pretty near all atmosphere. And last (but very much not least) Titan, Saturn's fourth moon, & how its very earth-like atmosphere exists. Albeit an "earth-like" atmosphere that is significantly colder than the Earth's one, at a temperature that means methane plays the same role as water does on earth (solid "ice"caps, liquid lakes, clouds). And through all of it he was showing how the laws of physics are the same everywhere and explaining the different outcomes.

We took a break for J to make semolina (ick, ick, ickity-ick), and then watched a programme about Delphi presented by Michael Scott - who I've not seen present a programme before. He, and this programme in general, were OK but not as good as some of the other history programmes we've been watching recently. I was initially not very enamoured of his style (lots of bits that called out for dun-dun-dun type dramatic music, whilst not actually being that dramatic), but I warmed up to it over the course of the programme. The programme was all about the Oracle at Delphi, covering the history of it from the initial caves (in which were found objects dating back to 7,000 years ago, older than I expected) through the heyday of the temple, to the end during Roman times (yet another thing that Christianity changed). Along the way he sort-of related it all to present day tourists visiting the Oracle and there was a bit of making it all out to have a message for the present day, which I found a bit heavy handed and could've done without. However. Also a lot of interesting info, and nice to see the bits & pieces of temple etc that have been excavated. I've actually visited it, about 10 years ago, as the sightseeing trip that was organised during a conference I was at in Greece. But I'd forgotten pretty much all of it (and not sure I even have any photos, it's definitely pre-digital camera days for me, tho), so it was nice to see all the scenery again. So overall, it was an OK programme to watch, certainly not bad, just rather more average than we've been treated to recently and I think the In Our Time programme on Delphi (that we listened to back in October) covered the subject a bit better.