Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, August 03, 2007

Boxing Clever

Just been watching the second programme in the Atom series on BBC4. It's very nice to find a science documentary these days which isn't mostly made up of dramatised reconstructions. Jim Al-Khalili is a real find as a presenter, and I hope we see more of him. He has a nice line in simile: the best one from tonight was the fact that in terms of heat output per cubic metre the human body produces more heat than the sun.

The programme a week or so back about the Race for Absolute Zero was rather splendid too, despite a slightly greater propensity for costumed reconstruction. I suppose part of the fun for me was that names would come tumbling out of my memory just before they appeared in the programmes. "Bla bla bla convincing evidence of the Big Bang" and Penzias and Wilson clattered out. "Bla bla bla Dewar's great rival in low temperature physics and (with slightly more of a where-did-that-spring-from) out popped Kamerlingh Onnes (even if I had to look up his spelling). It's nice to be one jump ahead, as in the which-element-occupies-a-unique-position-of-nuclear-stability question in Atom. (Iron.) I used to work alongside a (Nottingham) chemistry graduate who had done an M.Sc, and was amazed at how much chemistry I still remembered (hah! he thought tellurium was a metal!)(it isn't). Discarding the appealing but unlikely thought that Nottingham's chemistry tuition was way worse than Durham's, I must have been paying more attention than I realised at those lectures I bothered to crawl out of bed and attend. And when chatting to my physicist friends.

In a different vein, I rather enjoyed the recent pilot of what I hope will become a new series of Face The Music. Wikipedia may reckon that the Dummy Keyboard was the most popular round; I always liked the Funny Opera, where you saw one opera and heard another. I wish the new series well, and look forward to it. These things move on, and it clearly won't be simply a retread of the Joseph Cooper series.But we shall all miss Robin Ray (and it was FTM that made him a - middle-class - household name) with his inexhaustible supply of opus numbers and Koechels.

A note for the producer, though: the point of the Dummy Keyboard is that the camera stays on the player's hands, rather than straying round to the panel, or the player's face. Someone slightly missed the point there. But a very good effort.

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