Posts from 9th November 2003

9
Nov 03

THEORY OF EVERYTHING

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THEORY OF EVERYTHING: more faults

OK so I watched ep two with a VERY SMART PERSON who fears maths but wants to understand string theory, and we agreed that:
a. the order this story is being told in is totally confused and bizarre (on a paragraph level, even, not a chapter level)
b1. that it lurches from being incredibly patronising and over-simplified about some (not-that-hard) things, to not bothering in the slightest to explain or explore other VERY things
b2. this applies w.the visuals also (ridiculous and distracting and laboured and unnecessary visual supplied – going down in a lift – to explain the idea of “shrinking”!! vs *no* attempt whatever to visualise that equations and geometric shapes, are intimately linked, difft ways of saying/seeing the same thing, and that – for this kind of physicist, hunting the reasons for the shape of the universe, large and small – this is WHY a 200-yr-old equation in a dusty book might suddenly jump out at you)
c. we are supplied with adjective qualities for ideas (“weird”, “groundbreaking”, “exciting”), without any coherent attempt to help us FEEL that these qualities do actually apply
d. history of science and sociology of science and (sometimes charming, though too often hurried) personal anecdotes* and hard science are all being juggled: OK you have decided to be blaringly populist so not to alienate science-shy or inattentive viewers, but you nevertheless require of them FEROCIOUSLY TREMENDOUS powers of concentration and ability to file not-yet-accounted-for new information where it can grabbed down later)
e. contradictory statements in respect of what we (at THIS moment in the programme and/or recent scientific history) are meant to be assuming about who thinks what about the nature of gravity or time or whatever
f. brian greene is VERY IRRITATING in comparison with EVERY OTHER TALKING HEAD INVOLVED**

*they wasted a whole section re-enacting how an actor playing a italian mathematician hit on a particular possible equation by luck in 1968, in order immediately to follow it with the actual real same scientist today saying that this story was an annoying misrepresentation of what actually happened (so as well as history of science and sociology of science and personal anecdotes and hard science, they have started juggling memorably visualised LIES about all the above!!)

**see i think the possible upside abt this bodged attempt is that future programme makers are probably watching thinking, OK, I could actually have made this WORK and when the bad reviews roll in I shall pitch the very same claim and prove it; but the possible downside is that nearly all the top science bigwigs involved in (or againist) string theory have appeared, and they will all be so hopping mad at its rubbishness that they decline ever to take part in anything like it (which loses the anecdotes) (but see that’s one LESS thing to be juggling so win-win for future programme makers??)

Women be shopping! And lose their minds!

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Women be shopping! And lose their minds!

So buying expensive things make women crazy, and yet bargain hunters are crazy, too? But don’t you need math skills to figure out real bargains? And men only want to buy cars and electronic gadgets? And John Gray DIDN’T fund this study?