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30 September 2010 @ 02:36 pm
The Story of Science; Secret Britain  
The next (third) episode of The Story of Science was about the question "How Did We Get Here?" - which had no explosions, as it was talking about evolution and geology. He did manage to get some flames in though & some volcanoes ;) As he pointed out early on in the programme the oddity about this question is that it took so long to get asked in a scientific manner - it wasn't even regarded as a question for a significant portion of history, obviously God made the world and everything on it. So it wasn't until the discovery of the Americas (by Europeans - this is very euro-centric, it's a look at the story of European science) and the rise of more scientific & detail-obsessed natural history (in the 1700s) that people started to wonder (effectively) why God had made so many lizards & beetles & things that were of no particular use. The realisation that fossils were the remains of living things, and the older & older ages of the Earth that the new science of geology was proposing, lead on to the ideas of evolution. And eventually the realisation that not only is the whole of human history a mere blip at the end of a very long history of the planet, but also that people are not inevitable - chance & accident played a large part in the evolution of the modern collection of organisms. I'd expected this programme to be all about the natural history side of it, but about half was devoted to geology - which makes sense, as the environment is so important in evolution. And I know less about geology & the history thereof so it was neat to see it! I'd forgotten (or never known) that plate tectonics was only really accepted recently (possibly within my lifetime, maybe a little before?). And I'd no idea there was a place in Iceland where you could see the plates moving apart above sea level - well "see" in scare quotes, coz I think he said it's 7mm/year which is a trifle slow to actually see with the naked eye.

And then we watched the next Secret Britain - which covered the middle-ish chunk of England from East Anglia across to Wales. This could've covered a whole bunch of stuff where I knew the area, but it missed out Suffolk & Oxfordshire & Cambridgeshire - it did at least do somewhere in Pembrokeshire where I think I recognised the starting point (and I had no idea there were lilyponds near Broad Haven beach). Same mix as the first episode of some really neat looking places (the limestone mine in the Peak District was awesome, for instance) with "public participation" slots that were a bit twee (although the chap with his tree that had significance to his family was good, the other two bits were less so), and some fairly shallow looks at all these places (all "oh gosh, wow" and move on). Still, it's not bad light entertainment :)
 
 
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