“It was all going well and then you mucked it up. Trust a geologist!” Excerpt from the new series of Rough Science in which our host Kate Humble shows consternation at the new boy geologist getting the wrong kind of rocks to make Plaster Of Paris with (he needed Gypsum, they got Calcium Carbonate). It all seemed real enough, Humble moaned about how much of a pain it was chipping this supposedly very soft rock out, and her annoyance was too good to be feigned. However since this then lead to the additional BONUS SCIENCE fix of using the Sulphuric Acid in car batteries to chemically change it to Calcium Sulphate it all started to look like a bit of a fix.

Rough Science fits nicely into Mark’s bunch of rogue science shows which seem to be popping up at the moment (tuesday night followed by Crafty Tricks of WWII with exploding camel shit!). It is an Open University off shoot which along with Hollywood Science and Science Shack seem more about prolytising for how fun science is than engaging with any systematic discussion of the state of science. It posits the idea that working scientists are constantly thinking of ways to use their science knowledge to get them out of scrapes. However the scrapes in this show was inventing a gravity proof pen (aka a felt tip), make a plaque and send a verbal message over a long distance (the last one was the most iompressive as it involved the much more compicated than necessary light beams). They are merely science verisons of Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars where science is some of the stuff left lying around. And because it is science, despite the pseudo-competitiveness of the challenges, they will not be allowed to fail = the failure of science.

Like its sister programmes Rough Science is the Open University version of an open evening, or even a foundation course for potential students. In which case don’t expect to see too many applicants for Geology. Everyone knows that they’re untrustworthy.