Friday, December 28, 2012

Professor Brian Cox, Mad Money

Okay, this gets on my very last mid-holiday nerve. 

I'm sitting here, hoping to have a quiet moment with my friend and confidant, the guy I turn to in times of deepest doubt and despair, or when I need a little fun time. Yes, of course I'm talking about my PC, whom I have named Mr. OMGWTFPWNFTWPMPSauce (I know it's a lot to type, but he's earned each and every keystroke, and more).

Now picture this... Seeking distraction from the running soap opera that has become life in my family, I have just viewed a slightly dated (sadly there aren't any other kind) episode of  "Wonders of the Universe" which is narrated by Peter Pan-like Professor Brian Cox, the engaging and boyishly charming Physicist cum Pop Star (or is that the other way around?) with the Northern accent I find so scrumptious it's brought Oldham close to the top of my Watering Can List (BB does not do buckets). Said professor has just spent over forty of my precious downtime minutes explaining how life thrives in incredibly extreme conditions on our own planet and how it could definitely do so elsewhere in the universe. He does seem a tad condescending at times, but it does make the show accessible to a larger audience, and it's good to catch young elastic minds before they're corrupted by crass commercialism...and bored teachers just going through the motions and teaching to the test. Besides, I doubt that boyish persona would work if he spoke to us as if we'd been farther educated than a "slow" fourteen year old. See how neatly I ducked that 'cross the pond difference in which label they attach to place in school at that particular age in the UK vs the US? Nicely done, no?  

The show is carefully researched and as we have already discussed, deliciously narrated, and it is also beautifully shot and artistically rendered, with majestic footage of massive vistas, unexpected terrestrial wildlife and microscopic miracles of unimagined life forms. From space and helos and through lenses of incredible strength and clarity we see example after dynamic example of unlikely environments; as Cox lifts the veil of mystery surrounding the creatures that flourish here in places of which even well educated people are only vaguely aware. And it's all so early in the life-span of our own baby solar system.  With an unusual mix of knowing teacher and excited student he gives us excellent arguments for how life is very likely to have existed on Mars as it possibly does on Europa, Jupiter's closest moon, the smoothest body in our solar system, because its surface is "an unbroken shell of ice." He is utterly convincing and truly is filled with wonder as he carries us along on yet another magical mystery tour. 

Jupiter moon Europa
Jupiter's first moon, Europa


Having spent the program showing us these amazing extremophiles, and so many likely cases of extraterrestrial life so relatively close to us, he sums up the program with his fresh faced flair (say that five times fast) and restates that all the necessities for life, water being chief among them, have been shown to exist and likely do exist in many other places. Here I note that he does not even mention in passing the  unimaginable vastness and complexity of the universe, and I start to get a little bit of a funny feeling about what may be coming next. Oh no, please don't let it be so. Not Brian Cox. I love Brian Cox, like with a pitter-pattering heart  ...and butterflies. He takes me back to my childhood when everything was fresh and new and thrilling and the world was more wow! than yes ...and?

Screw childhood and butterflies.
What I see above are two parts of a me sandwich!

I should follow my instinct turn off the tele right now and leave well enough alone, but no, I have been dying my life away, one small death at a time of morbid curiosity (oh yes, I wish I meant the Shakespearean "little death" too, Love!). As the program draws to its, one would think inevitable conclusion, that familiar, direct and guileless gaze seems to somehow glaze over. Is it my imagination or is my favourite professor beginning to look less like my first boyfriend's best friend friend (therefore taboo for life) on whom I still have an "omg I'm blushing" crush ...and more like the void visage of a man whose ego has grown a bit too large for his own head, even with those new cheeks? It's so refreshing to see that men have a little work done now and then too. *big smile* I haven't had to go to those lengths yet, but then I haven't spent as much time out in the climate as he has.

Not quite so "cheeky" here as he has been of late.

Amazon decimated for packaging for Barbie and Ken.

Slashandburn taruma mirim. charcoalvander brug
As I contemplate this with growing unease, the ever artistic camera work recaptures me as we pan first to shots of natural splendor then to environment devastation as forests and landscapes are destroyed to make way for magnificent mankind. *eye roll* Before that can be given too much thought we race swiftly to our climactic shot, this in extremely high definition from space. It is another fabulous piece of art by the production staff. Though they obviously didn't shoot it themselves, it's rendered in perfect, seemingly cloudless detail. It's a night shot of Earth's western hemisphere as the camera slowly pans eastward, across the US, and Atlantic then lingering on the UK--the landmarks easily identifiable at relatively close range. Then the lights become brighter and blend together against a contrast of midnight blue, a dark planet in a dark sky. We zoom out to see familiar land masses defined by simulated star shine where shoreline meets the sea and Professor Cox waxes eloquent on the (arguable) triumphs of technology and the (dubious) feats of mankind. 

It's a toughie, but I am pretty sure I prefer the 'before' picture, thank you.
You may want to ...well actually I assume you're sitting, never mind.  Professor Dr. Brian Cox, the cute boy wonder of the science scene who tells us all the fun facts about so many things, looks the camera in the eye and with all the wanton boastfulness of a drunken braggart proclaims with complete conviction that man, as in the human being, is the only intelligent life form in the universe. He's not joking. He didn't grimace or blink or show any kind of tell. I didn't see more than the usual flush creep up his neck, ears or cheeks. Of course I may have been looking at some of that nifty camera work, so maybe I missed it, but he goes on to say man is the only being in the entire universe with the acumen to shape his environment to his needs, the evidence of which is writ large across Earth's face. He takes a short dramatic pause and then adds ...and also the brilliance and bravery to leave his home planet in search of the wonders of the universe! 

Pretty lights, but at what cost? If only we could live in harmony with nature rather than destroying it.
Perhaps we might then boast of the mark we've left on our planet to proclaim our existence to the Universe!

As my ex husband would say in his southern US drawl, "Do what now?"  

After the initial shock wears off, which takes about half an hour, I'm thinking, "What other absolute tripe has this guy shoved down my gullet and had me swallow whole, all the while looking into my face with those adorably credulous eyes of his, disarming me with that ever artless mien, which, in the end simply served to hide his epic ego?" I guess he was another one on the too good to be true list, as anyone that charming would have to be in this tainted world. Apparently there's no Never-never Land and Petra Pan still hasn't found her Peter. *wink* I mean seriously, he even ended his self-congratulatory little oration, with the title to his show! Give me a freaking break!





Please bear with me a moment, humour is my coping mechanism, and it usually works, and if that doesn't work, being catty is always my sure-fire, no fail back-up plan, but I've just taken a bit of a shot to the heart here. As a natural-born geek, who suffered all the slings and arrows any geek suffers, in addition to being female, blonde and bodacious (I didn't do it, it was Mother Nature, take it up with Her) I take my science shows, and their hosts, seriously. Some women dream of being carried off in the night by hunks with six-pack abs (and nine    ....figure bank accounts) who could stop a van from crashing into them with one hand while slicking back their perfectly styled hair with the other. I dream of men who can, in the dead of night, whisper to me of mysteries obscure and arcane. So it's a sad day for BB when she learns a member of her top eleven or so is apparently bipolar or suffering NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which used to be called Grandiosity or Delusions or Grandeur). Either that or some other gem from the misery-filled, pharmaceutical industry-supporting pages of the DSM...what are we up to, V now, I think. 

I almost, and please note I do say almost, hope he's simply religiously devout, and that's the basis for his naive, inane, jejune um... stance. Surely it is just that, a stance, not a true belief! Maybe his wife is devout and he wishes to please her. She looks rather rigid in her photograph. *Hiss* Our little boy seems to have need of a mommy figure, but I digress. *Meow* And let's face it, we've already established I'm jealous. It's hardly fair to blame the wife for the idiocy of the husband, unless it really is her fault of course. IT happens.  Oh, nvm on the religious nut thing. I see here, he's an atheist:

‘If you say the world is 6,000 years old, then you’re daft. It isn’t. Some people just don’t understand rational thinking! We know that the sun is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is 13.7 billion years old.
‘But I do think there’s common ground between religion and science in that you notice that the world is beautiful and that nature is absolutely fascinating.’

Well, better arrogant than ignorant. 

But that just sooooooooo doesn't fit his personality. I get that people have a public persona they put on a take off for the camera, but not all of how he behaves can be fake. I've seen too much in life to fall for that. So logic informs me he must have an agenda. Aha! An agenda! What did I say back there a bit ago... yes! It's a stance, with a purpose, and that purpose is...? What are the three main purposes nearly all men have in life? Sex, sex and sex. No really, sex, food and money, right? To be honest I think the money's just so they can get the best food and sex...or so they think, equating physical attributes with good sex, dolts that they are. And oh yeah, I forgot toys. Boys must have their toys, and I can't argue with them on that one. So funding it is, then, right? He's not a ranting lunatic or flagrant egotist after all. I can still luv him! Yay!

Whew, thank goodness, because I really do like him, and almost even better, he's not nearly so young as I thought! Unfortunately there's still that married thing...*sigh* But still...  

Okay, now it's simple.  All scientists need funding, it's a curse of the profession. In that light this asinine declaration that man is the only intelligent life form makes perfect sense. When he states he's attempting to disprove the hypothesis that intelligent life exists on other planets, it's not only correct practice according to the strict (and rightfully so) confines of Scientific Method, but it's the big C ...controversial! 

I believe the equation is:  Star Power + Controversy = *cha-ching!*

What does controversy do? It attracts attention! What does increased attention do? It increases profits for whomever sponsors and/or puts him on the tele, which also puts money in the bank account of Professor and Mrs. Cox, which gets him more sex, better food and more toys..I mean it eventually gets him the Nobel Prize when he finds life on another planet! ...or the Nobel Prize and " tokens or Nectar points"  Source  as Professor Cox himself sardonically stated when speaking to "BBC bosses" who asked if some kind of prize need be given to anyone appearing on their show who might find intelligent life on another planet.

Prof Cox also said he had a second bizarre encounter with BBC bosses during the show when he suggested asking volunteers to scour pictures of Mars for signs of geological activity that computer scrutiny might have missed. ‘Someone from the BBC said to me, “Would there have to be a prize if someone discovered it?”
‘(I said), “What do you mean? You’re going to say to someone, you discovered the first evidence for alien life beyond Earth – and here’s a book voucher as well?

Clearly our darling Professor is loving the publicity his little statement has engendered. He has never enjoyed more fame. He's an OBE, so far. He's doing almost as many experiments as he could possibly want, and he's on the tele and making money. I think this case can be closed, at least for the time being. 

Bow ties ARE cool!

I am so relieved that in writing this and sharing my over-wrought emotions with Mr. OMGWTFPWNFTWPMPSauce and you, I've found the true source of this outlandish dichotomy of thought. I am making no sweeping statements about life on other planets (unlike some people we know), I'm just keepin' it real.  

*Graciously bows and accepts accolades and applause*

Thank you, thank you veddy much!

I'd like to close with this slightly out of character reality check. Stephen Hawking is my preferred expert on this particular subject. No Peter Pan antics or pseudo-scientific rationalizations for the raging global technocracy currently devouring Earth and her resources. Hawking takes no pride in man's destruction, I call it rape and murder, of what was a pristine, beautiful and bountiful planet, perfectly suited to sustain life in perpetuity, or at least until the next ice age. He takes a more realistic and cautious view, as described simply and powerfully below, and it doesn't even need pictures...the imagery is self evident:

Stephen Hawking has revealed he strongly believes in aliens and warned that Earth could be at risk from an invasion.
In a documentary series, the renowned astrophysicist argued that it is 'perfectly rational' to assume intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Professor Hawking said: 'We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.

'I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. 
'Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.'
It would be 'too risky' to attempt to make contact with alien races, he concluded. 
'If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Differing opinions and comments are strongly encouraged and very welcomed, and are only moderated for spam and advertising purposes. Please, fire away...or feel free to agree! Thanks for stopping by!