King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Wednesday, March 17

On groundbreaking TV

In these days of repeats, 'Merkin' Sit-coms and CSI deductions, it's nice to get the occasional programme that makes you want to sit down and watch it, instead of watching it because it's there.
For the past few weeks, the BBC has been showing a new series called "The Wonders of the Solar System." It's presented by a bright young thing called Professor Brian Cox, and his enthusiasm for the subject is just so contagious. In the old days you'd get some slightly bumbly, slightly eccentric middle aged man like Heinz Wolff or Magnus Pike talking at you about the subject, not talking to you. And so it's nice when you get someone different, and they make you want to listen instead of insisting that you listen. This is what happens with this series. So far he's covered the subject of the Sun and Saturn's Rings. Both have been mind blowingly compelling, meaning John and I sit down together and watch them with interest and fascination. This is what education should be about, not bureaucracy and red tape, not what we should and shouldn't learn, but teaching methods and how to make them more interesting.
Take the subject of the sun. It's at the centre of our solar system. We know this because Galileo said so. But we never really have any hard proof, unless we have a truly quirky and unlikely event like our moon being exactly 400 times smaller than the sun, and 400 times closer, meaning if it crosses the line of sight to the sun, it obscures it perfectly. Presenting, an eclipse...