Margaret (pling) wrote,

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The Story of Science; Secret Britain

We started our evening of TV watching with the second episode of The Story of Science - unfortunately we failed to record the first episode, I guess we must've only found out about it after it had already started. A shame, because this turns out to be a really cool series, we very much enjoyed this episode. The programmes are presented by Michael Mosley and talk about the history of science, with each episode organised around answering a particular question. The one we watched last night was "What Is the World Made Of?" and started with the alchemists and their idea (borrowed from the Greeks) of the world being made of earth, air, water & fire. From there he covered the birth of chemistry & the idea of elements, industrial chemistry & ended up with quantum physics (a very shallow look at that, obviously). Along the way there were lots of explosions and fire - they repeated a bunch of early experiments like splitting mercuric oxide into mercury & oxygen, water into hydrogen & oxygen, isolation of potassium. The final take-home message of the episode was just how much of the modern world that we take for granted (all our electronic gadgets, how we travel, the clothes we wear) ultimately derives from the attempts of scientists to find out what the world is made of. It did mention how much the horrors of WWI also derived from this, but skirted neatly round WWII and nuclear weapons to finish on a positive note looking forward to possibly more technological marvels in the future.

Second programme of the evening was the first episode of Secret Britain - which felt like a close cousin of Coast. Our two "intrepid" presenters are Matt Baker & Julia Bradbury, both of whom were vaguely familiar to me before, presumably from other such programmes. They are travelling across Britain in 4 programmes, looking at overlooked bits of the country - natural beauty or historically significant - off the beaten track. This one covered the south of England from Cornwall to Kent. It was interesting enough to watch - some cool places (like pointing out all the other archaeological stuff on Salisbury Plain which you don't normally see coz of the MOD doing war games there), some cool wildlife (like the orchids). But ultimately it felt rather shallow, I'll still watch the rest of the series tho & I think J enjoyed it more than I did :)
Tags: britain, chemistry, history, nature, physics, science, technology, tv

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