Wonders of Life, amazing new series from Dr Brian Cox
Written by Chris
The BBC has recently began showing a new documentary series from Dr Brian Cox, called Wonders of Life. If the title of the program hasn’t already given it away, it is about the exploration of life on earth through different themes such as the senses. Giving all living-things the ability to see the world around us. It is very fascinating really and a lot of what Brian talks about makes sense. It is a must watch for science-geeks and Brian Cox fans!
In the first episode Brian explores what is life and what it means to be alive. He begins in the Philippines with the native people, they believe that the spirits of their ancestors are still around them and dedicate a special day to celebrate the lives of their ancestors at their graves. He joins some of the local people in the rituals and agrees with the locals that surely after we die we do not just disappear. He goes onto exploring this notion by saying that what gives us life is energy. From everything we do physically to what our organs are doing inside of us. Energy is transferring from one source to another all the time. He believes this is like what the Philippines believe that their ancestors spirits live on and that in death we do not just disappear. He uses an example of a waterfall where the water cascades from the top to the bottom. He says this is called “gravitational potential energy”, which is the amount of energy an object has from its distance away from the earth. The kinetic energy from the flowing river above cascades down due to GPE, creating sound energy as the water is falling and when it hits the bottom. As it hits the bottom, heat energy is produced as well. So the original kinetic energy becomes two other types of energy.
Brian also further explains something called a “Proton Gradient”, which is basic theory for a battery or fuel cell. Basically millions of years ago, before life began on earth, there would have been something like the waterfall that was described earlier. However in those times, one part of those waterfalls would have been more acidic than the other. As the water from one end meets the other, energy is created. This is what makes the waterfall like the battery. Things like this would have what made life possible on this planet. It really is quite heavy stuff, so please do look into what this program explores in more detail. One of the things to remember from this episode that Brian explores, is that life is a process, many different things happening in our bodies that has developed over many, many years by nature.
This series has five episodes where Brian will explore life, from the first episode you can expect more mind-boggling stuff. It was very informative and sometimes confusing however that would be expected from a science documentary. He explains things quite well and even adds some humour to the things he talks about. You also get some nice infographics appearing on-screen in an augmented reality style. Usually labelling what an animal’s name is and the species name in latin. You also get chemical illustrations displayed in this fashion as well and is a nice way to make sense of what he talks about. Definitely a must-watch for anyone with any interest in science and probably anything Brian Cox related.