It was still a good programme tho, with lots of weird beasties that you find on earth as well as the things that indicate there may be simple life forms elsewhere. I particularly like the bacteria that live in glaciers in Iceland, melting the ice around them with anti-freeze chemicals creating their very own mobile pocket of ocean. And the stuff about the Scablands in the US was fascinating - this vast canyon system was apparently created in a matter of days by the breaching of a glacier that was damming a large lake at the end of the last ice age. Practically instantaneous in geological terms, and awe-inspiringly powerful.
Second programme of the evening continued the biological theme - Aristotle's Lagoon was a programme about Aristotle's work in the field of natural history, presented by Armand Marie Leroi (who is a developmental biologist). I thought I recognised Leroi's name, and it turns out he wrote "Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body" which I got for Christmas several years ago. Most of the programme concentrated on Aristotle's successes in zoological thought & practice - he was the first person to properly observe both behaviour and internal structure of the animals around him, and to write down & theorise about the patterns he saw. Leroi showed us some of the observations that Aristotle made - including opening up chicken eggs to look at the embryos inside, and dissecting dead fish to see what was inside them. He drew the line at repeating any of the vivisection that Aristotle undertook, tho. And then the last quarter of the programme was answering the question of why Aristotle was forgotten as a pioneer of biology - and it's because he didn't get everything right. In particular his theory of spontaneous generation (like he thought rotting meat spontaneously formed maggots that then turned into flies) was quite spectacularly wrong, and so once actual experiments were done they that showed this was not the case (which Leroi repeated and showed us the results of - one fish left to rot in the open, one in a covered container, only maggots in the one the flies had had access to, plump wriggly maggots on the telly *ick*). And that and other such things meant that Aristotle became the symbol of the old non-scientific attitude to the natural sciences, to be reacted against, rather than remembered for the things he did get right. We'd had this programme recorded for ages, and hadn't got round to watching it - glad we did in the end, coz it was really very good & interesting.