Physics and history can be two of the driest subjects. Imagine a lecture on the history of ancient Britain. Or a lecture on basic physics. Yawn.
But the BBC, beless them, have recently taken these two subjects, and, thanks to two talented presenters, brought them to life in two wonderful series.
First, take Wonders of the Universe with Dr Brian Cox. It’s basically a glorified physics lecture. Entrophy. The Second law of Thermodynamics. The arrow of time. These were the concepts “Coxy” (as he’s known in our household) was explaining last week. As dry as toast. But, because of the unique way the BBC is funded, Coxy went to the most mindblowingly amazing locations in South America and Namibia. Against those backdrops, the child-like anthusiasm of this particle physicist from Oldham produced a truly spell-binding programme.
Likewise, the History of Ancient Britain can seem extremely boring. However, when you’ve got Dr Neil Oliver bringing it to life, touching actual artefacts in the places they were discovered, it is enthralling. For example, he looked at Cheddar Man, the oldest intact skeleton to be found in Britain, and then informed us that the DNA from that man, who lived 9,000 years ago, has been matched to a history teacher living now in Somerset. Wow. It certainly makes you think about the extraordinary struggle for survival by relatively few people which led to our existence.
The common thing about both these programmes is the extraordinary length of time involved in both subjects.
The timespans are just mind-boggling. – None more so than Dr Brian Cox’s pronouncement that the Universe will end, and time will end with it, in “10,000 trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion years”.
Get your head round that one.
And he said it with his usual smile, by the way.