Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas lectures

One of the highlights of my Christmas time viewing (along with The Worlds Strongest Man and the World Darts Championship) are the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. This year the lectures were by Oxford University maths Professor Marcus du Sautoy on various areas in maths. Unfortunately this year five, who are now showing the lectures, decided to put it on in an evening prime time slot of 7.15 pm and start showing it on Christmas day. This was not good for me and meant I ended up only seeing half of one lecture. This was annoying as I generally really enjoy the lecture series. Its previous approximately midday slot when it was on BBC2 and, briefly, Channel 4 was far better for me. In fact one of the RI Christmas Lectures from 1993 partly spurred on my interest in physics. It was called the Cosmic Onion and was given by Prof. Frank Close and covered in a really well done way pretty much everything from subatomic particles to the entire universe. The RI Lectures are designed for kids, but I think they are pretty much the best pieces of science programming on each year for any age group. I still think that the Cosmic Onion lecture is the best physics lecture I've ever seen - I still remember parts of it quite vividly - and if there exists a copy of the lectures on video I'd recommend it be shown in every secondary school science class to inspire the children.