What an incredible bit of video editing and also a reminder of how much my knowledge has expanded because of my wonderful friends on G+ these past few months. This is not my New Year’s message but this video is a great opportunity to pause and reflect on what a remarkable year of triumph, tragedy and a celebration of the human spirit 2011 was.
I had the pleasure of watching Destiny the first episode of BBC 2′s excellent series Wonders of the Universe featuring the brilliant and affable Physicist and erstwhile rock star Dr. Brian Cox. While it is certainly impressive that he is a CERN scientist , Dr. Cox has a remarkable way of relating complex scientific theory and making it immediately understandable to the average person – assuming, of course, that I am an average person.
In the first episode he jets around the world using amazing locations to explain such things as change over time using a glacier in Patagonia and a desert in Namibia to explain entropy. A measure of his excellence at getting the point across is that he managed to explain entropy in four minutes using nothing but a pile of sand and a child’s plastic bucket as captured by my mobile phone off the TV.
Now, admittedly it was a cursory explanation and thus might not meet with the approval of the cognoscenti but at least it explains the basics.
The scorn that is heaped on those who try to simplify complex concepts in order for laypeople to understand them always puzzles me. It is like condemning a tech person for explaining the basics of how a computer operates to his/her mother but not teaching her how to strip it down and rebuild the thing. It is the same criticism that the late and wonderful Carl Sagan got from some quarters for his groundbreaking series Cosmos in the early ’80s.
All I know is that I learned a bit more about our wonderful universe by watching the first episode and plan to learn a lot more over the remaining three episodes; Stardust; Falling; Messengers. If you are in the UK you can catch it on TV or on iPlayer – those living in the rest of the world (like me) will have use a proxy program like Identity Cloaker to catch it on iPlayer.
In the meantime let’s pay homage to the great footsteps that Dr. Brian Cox is now filling so gracefully and brilliantly.
A clip from the opening of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.