Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Best science TV ever

Still talking about science, some of the science blogs I read are discussing which is the best TV show about science ever. A lot of votes for 'Cosmos' by Carl Sagan and David Attenborough's 'Life on Earth'. I think these are good choices. Pharyngula makes a good case for The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski. Some of you won't remember it of course, and I recommend getting it on DVD if you can. It had a big effect on me when it was broadcast in 1973. Wikipedia overview here.

Here is Bronowski:

'It is said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.'

David Attenborough commissioned both this series and its complement/rival 'Civilisation' by Kenneth Clark.

I am a sort of mystic. I think David Attenborough is the god of television. And I sort of mean that non-ironically. I think animals detect something about him and respond to it. It makes me laugh when you see it every time. Like that blue whale popping up and giving him the eye. Or a poor chimp in a crate on a boat to the zoo, holding his hand as he talks to the camera. All you could see was this little hairy hand emerging from the box, clutching Attenborough's hand.

But I think the best science TV I have ever watched was Horizon on BBC2. That's where I first learned about black holes for instance, an idea we take for granted now. I don't find it as good these days, it's more human interest than science.
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