BBC Two – Dara O Briain's Science Club – Musings Of A Mild Mannered Man

BBC Two – Dara O Briain's Science Club

BBC Two – Dara O Briain’s Science Club.

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This show turned out to be very informative, and in a quirky respect quite funny. I’ve always enjoyed Dara’s take on anything science – mainly with him having a physics degree he knows a thing or two about science principles – and he knows just how to bring complex ideas and expressions back down to the human level for everyone else to understand.

I’m not sure on the semi live issue of the show, the edits were not done well, as though the show was recorded half hour before going live, but I do like the premise and I can not wait to see how they tackle more topics and wider themes…

Updated from a earlier posts

Science Team

BBC Two – Dara O Briain’s Science Club – Einstein

Another fun and interesting take on a field of science, this week it was about particle physics, and the father of them all Albert Einstein.

I really enjoyed this one, because I have a passing interest in particle physic and all that space/time theory. I also found the idea of vacuum energy from professor Jim al-Khalili quite an eye opener, that this could be the best candidate for ‘dark energy’ fascinating. That the universe could end up tearing itself apart was not something I had heard of before. I had heard of gravity waves, though how the wave were being looked for is quite simple really, though I don’t think that we will detect them any time soon, as even though there must be waves of gravity travelling through space, they are so minute that I feel we would not be able to detect them on the earth.

I was a bit surprised by the random clip of the man looking for Einstein’s brain, not sure what that was supposed to impart. But overall a thoroughly great second episode.

Updated 20th November 2012…

Mark showing how to make a comet...

Dara O Briain’s Science Club – Life, Death & Extiction

Another cracking episode from Dara and the Science Club gurus. This time it was dealing with the issues of extinction, and more specifically if we were to blame for the biggest extinction event happening.

I have to say that this episode was a bit more ‘controversial’ than the previous two. Mainly for the section on should we give up on saving the pandas and, in a completely left field segue, celebrating the shotgun.

Now I understand both view points on whether we should continue spending so much money and resources on the Giant Panda – mega-fauna species, as the panda was referred to during the show – or let the species that is very particular in what it eats or when it mates, naturally die out, as seen in many species throughout the history of the earth. My opinion is that we should keep trying to save this species, even though the costs involved are quite large. I know they are not a key species in their ecosystem in china, not like the humble-bee; if you remove the bee from its ecosystem that ecosystem can collapse  But Giant Pandas have become the ‘poster bear’ for conservation, ask most people about conservation and they will normally mention the @Panda as the most endangered creature. As such, I think we will keep people awareness and interest in conservation if we have a recognizable creature in the Panda that is seen as ‘cute’ and adorable to focus people’s minds on visiting Zoological Parks and giving to conservation charities. This will then help the charities and parks to fund programs to help other endangered species to survive. They have become the linchpin in the ‘ecosystem of conservation’; you remove them from the public’s idea on helping save a species,  then more species will be lost in the long run.

The other aspect this program that was quite surprising was in its ‘celebration’ of the Shotgun. Mark Miodownik took us through a demonstration on how the shotgun works, and how, due to the development of the cartridge, the shotgun was able to kill many more animals. It was shown how the shotgun was able to kill 50 carrier pigeons in one shot and that within 20 years of creating the shotgun cartridge, the carrier pigeon became extinct.

I understand that the show has a need to offer varying viewpoints and not to shy away from the controversial questions, but Dara was almost gleeful in introducing the shotgun clip. And Mark was almost praising in how the shotgun was the most influential development in the extinctions of many species. Not quite in my taste, but an interesting point.

Again, overall I really enjoyed the show, but I am noticing that even though the subject matter they are covering each week is a broad spectrum, I do feel that they are only briefly scratching the surface of the topic. I would like to see more in-depth take on the subject, to try to have more of a debate and understanding from the premise of each show and not just quickly gloss over some aspects of each premise.

Extinction In Numbers – video

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25 Responses

  1. Russ wood says:

    On the One show you said the the skydiver was slowing down – he was not , just getting faster by a lower rate upto terminal velocity – physics teacher oakwood rotherham.

  2. Paulina says:

    Dara, I am polish and why on vodka you put rushian letters????

  3. Malcolm Mitchell says:

    It seems that the BBC have missed chance to produce a show which could both educate and entertain. It appears to suffer from the seemingly pervasive need to spice up the medium at the expense of the message. Have they (producers/directors) confused form with function – or maybe the BBC aims merely to make a dumbed-down “sciency” show? Furthermore, it would be much appreciated if the presenter would speak more clearly. Is this the standard we pay our licence fee for?

  4. Anny says:

    Can anyone tell what the music is on the trailer for this show?

  5. Simon Barnes says:

    I just wish they would answer something worthwhile and really gripping like how did the ancients carve out with lazer precision and then lift into place, 1,200ton slabs of rock in a way that we can’t even replicate today? Or analyse the so far unexplained DNA differences between humans and our so called closest relatives. There are some really mysterious and juicy topics out there and they choose to trivialise science. Shame on you Dara, but I guess your salary is in the bag so who cares eh!

    • Mike says:

      If the ancients could build with better precision than us when then why is their tallest building 139m tall and a pile of rocks, whereas we have a building, the Burj Khalifa, 829m tall made of precision cut steel, glass and other man made materials. We could build the pyramid today, with a higher standard of workmanship, if we could find someone with the money to waste building a pile of rocks to bury someone. We have however built an advanced pyramid to incredible levels of accuracy, the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. Admittedly it is 30m shorter than the Giza pyramid, but the Ancients could As to DNA, the research into DNA is ongoing, however the understanding of divergent evolution is common knowledge. As genetic differences accumulate in a group of animals, over time a new species is created. For humans and chimpanzees, science puts our last common ancestor at around 7 million years ago. A common misconception is that we evolved from apes and that we now look like humans and chimps stayed the same is completely wrong. The chimps continued to evolve as did we for the last 7 million years resulting in 2 distinct species, we share most of the same DNA as we have a common pre-ape ancestor, but we evolved to fit the ecology of our world. DNA is a set of building instructions for an incredibly complex set of biological machines. But rather than having a unique set of instructions for each living organism nature sensible reuses the code that is common to all life. For example the code to make a cell’s mitochondria is pretty similar for both plants and animals, so DNA reuses a lot of the same code, hence we share 55% of the same DNA as a banana.
      Science does explain most of the ‘Mysteries’ not all of it makes it onto BBC1, books are an interesting source of scientific knowledge.

      One last point in my rant, The guy writing this blog IS NOT DARA!!!!

  6. Bolshie Budgie! says:

    Could someone please tell me what is the opening music to the Science Club last week (8/11/12)?

    Thank you.

  7. paulturner76 says:

    I have since found that the intro music to the Science Club is ‘I Heard Wonders’ by David Holmes –

    I think that we will find, once the series gets going and finds it’s feet, that the science and topics discussed will become more ‘mysterious and juicy’. I know it’s easy to knock the show after one episode, but I do feel this could be a fun and informative show that will offer surprising takes on well known, and not so well known scientific fact and theories.

  8. Alan Turner says:

    You can’t measure the speed of light using a microwave and cheese as the microwave oven is calibrated assuming the speed of light.

  9. Alan Turner says:

    Is time continuous or quantumised?

  10. Mark W says:

    Alan; two points.

    Firstly, you say a microwave oven/cooker (a microwave is what it uses) is calibrated using the speed of light. As far as I knew – albeit comparatively little as I’m a chemist rather than a physicist – the magnetron produces waves of a determined frequency. Wavelength has nothing to do with it, except the link (wavelength times frequency equals speed – applies to all waves, not just electromagnetic ones, but the speeds differ in this case) that is used to calculate c, the speed of light.

    Secondly, time is currently assumed to be continuous though some scholars are of the opinion that it may be quantised.

  11. Tintin727272 says:

    I’m catching the show on iPlayer and enjoying it although I think the producers are trying to make it look too much like Top Gear. The studio has that horrible echoing sound to it (sounds like you’re recording in an aircraft hanger) and the Hall of Fame is just like the cool wall. Thankfully Dara O’Briain is entirely likeable (unlike Jeremy Clarkson).

    • paulturner76 says:

      I have to admit that I had not made the connection with Top Gear, but so many people keep pointing it out, and with the cool wall reference I am starting to see it. But yeah, Dara is more likeable than Jezza…

  12. David Cawdell says:

    I try hard to imagine the absolute maximum speed anything can travel but have not yet had this question answered. I understand speed to be relative so If two objects set off accelerating in an orbit in opposite directions and had enough energy to accelerate to say 0.6 the speed of light when they had done half an orbit their closing speed would be 1.2 the speed of light?
    Also the light would be so compressed what would they see of one another?

  13. Martin says:

    Can someone tell me the title of the closing credits Shadows/Duane Eddy style electric Guitar music on programme 2 please?

  14. Helen says:

    The segment on Einstein and the fridge was very enlightening. I was interested to hear that refrigerating food has nothing to do with the laws of physics. I thought that the laws of thermodynamics are physical laws!

  15. william says:

    haven’t watched it yet but i will soon does it give an insight on any particle science and/or computer science ?

  16. Chris Shaw says:

    On the recent programme about Einstein and space, there seemed to be agreement with Einstein’s proposal that gravity was caused by the distortion of space-time by mass. If this is the case, why do physicists expend so much time and energy in trying to unify gravity with the three other forces* and searching for a gravity particle?

    Wouldn’t it be more fruitful to try and find ways of proving that all particles are simply themselves distortions in space-time? Such a theory might explain such puzzling phenomena as ‘Action at a Distance’, the ‘Uncertainty Principle’ and particles that seem to interfere with themselves (The ‘Two-Slit Experiment’)?

    I’m aware of ‘String Theory’ and ‘Superstrings’, but all seems to have gone quiet on this front.

    Of course, I’m a total lay person and maths is not my strong point (‘D’ at A-Level 48 years ago) but I bet that there ain’t no such thing as a graviton!

    Chris Shaw

    *electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces.

  17. Graeme says:

    The third programme was as interesting as ever, but I had to watch Helen’s piece three times before I could get past the distraction of her pronouncing oocyte as “oo-cyte” (to rhyme with, I don’t know, “zoo site”) instead of “o-ocyte”.

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