The Story Of Science Review: Social Sciences
We really are in the middle of a golden period of TV science at the minute; Invisible Worlds, How Earth Made Us and Seven Wonders of The Solar System have re-awakened (actually make that awakened) my interest in physics.
It’s probably because I get to feel all intellectual about myself, safe in the knowledge that this time there will be no horrible exams to reveal me as the relativity-ignorant blaggard that I am. Oh well.
As ever, this programme has a nice little twist on a theme. It’s all about how politics, human nature and soceity in general has influenced the progression of our scientific knowledge you see. Sometimes it seems we were just bloody lucky…
In this first episode, plum-mouthed Michael Mosley explains how a crazy dude with a drunk elk became one of the most influential star-gazers in modern astrology, how the reformation helped us realise that the sun centred the solar system and how the printing press was just as crucial as the telescope.
However the real crux of this absorbing programme is that scientific progress was rarely achieved through Eureka moments, but more often through a series of connections and social factors that battered down the over-protected old theories over a period of time.
Almost inevitably, Mosley dismisses several scientific fables as piffle, most notably the tale of Sir Isaac Newton in the orchard. “Maybe he was inspired by that apple. But if he was, he didn’t act on that inspiration for over 20 years,” says the presenter. “It seems he made the story up in his old age so that he would be given sole credit for the theory of gravity…” Shocking.