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"Wonders of the Universe" Brian Cox

Started by Geoffw, March 13, 2011, 08:39:23 pm

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March 13, 2011, 08:39:23 pm Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 09:44:48 pm by Geoffw
I thoroughly enjoyed the first programme in Brian Cox's heavily trailed "Wonders of the Universe" on BBC2.   But even more Sam Woollaston's classic review in last Monday's Guardian.....

QuoteHi, I'm Professor Brian Cox, I'm one of the Wonders of the Universe (BBC2, Sunday). Here I am, on top of a mountain, triumphant in outdoor clothing. Why are we here? Where do we come from? These are the most enduring of questions. And why is it that you are a little bit in love with me? Is it my enormous mind? Or my boyish good looks, the NME hair, the expansive wardrobe coupled with exotic locations, the soft modest enthusiasm with just a hit of Lancashire, the winning smile . . . this winning smile ? ah, that's got you, hasn't it? Look how proudly I stand, while the helicopter circles. I've conquered this mountain, just as I'm conquering your heart.

Now I'm somewhere else, in a cream-coloured safari anorak and stonewashed jeans, in front of the sun, bathed in light and glory. I am the golden boy, the sun god, I am the sun. Now I'm staring out to sea, in an aubergine T-shirt, thinking big thoughts. And very big numbers. A billion billion billion billion billion billion. That big. Look, I'll write it in the sand, to show you how massive my number is. It's all about the vast sweep of cosmic time and astrophysics. And turtles. As the story of time unfolds, a fundamental truth is revealed: nothing lasts for ever.

Now I'm back in Gore-Tex, by Berghaus, with a Patagonian glacier as backdrop. And posing next to a picture of the death of a star. The death of one star, the birth of another ? that's me. Because time goes only one way, the arrow of time says the future, like my clothes, will always be different.

The second law of thermodynamics demonstrates everything that is profound and powerful and beautiful about me, and physics too. It explains why I'm so hot, but also why time goes forward and why there's a past and a future. Entropy ? that's something as well, a gradual decline to disorder, like my hair in the wind. I'm now in the Namibian desert, wearing an apple-green T-shirt. And some kind of technical neoprene hoodie.

For a moment, you thought you understood what I was talking about didn't you; you thought, you got it? Maybe you did, or perhaps you just got me, you'd fallen under my spell. Here's another enormous number, even bigger this time. A billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion. Amazing, isn't it?

It won't last, nothing does. Things Can Only Get Better, someone once sang, naively. Because things can only get worse. The most profound consequence of the arrow of time will be when the cosmos cannot get any more disorderly, it will eventually fade and die. Nothing will happen, and it will keep on (not) happening, for ever. A final thought: here's me, on the beach, at sunset.