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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Classic Science Documentaries

One of the most important goals of science communication is to bring the joy of knowledge to inquisitive young people and inspire some of them to become our next generation of scientists.

Today the Internet is rising in popularity as a superb medium for science education and communication, but up until the last decade, the most effective medium for doing this has been television.

Here at Fresh Brainz we have dug into the YouTube archives to bring you three classic science documentaries, including Carl Sagan's Cosmos which helped to "con" your humble narrator into choosing the path of science that many years ago.

Of course, the fact that these old TV shows are freely available in their entirety on YouTube underscores the emerging power of the Internet for communicating science.


Jacob Bronowski's Ascent of Man (1973)

Thoughtful and powerfully written, Bronowski's Ascent of Man focuses on the biological and cultural evolution of human beings. It proceeds at a slower pace compared to documentaries today, but strives to convey more interesting knowledge per unit time instead of padding the narrative with glitzy special effects. Nevertheless, it contains ground-breaking micro and high-speed photography that is still impressive today.

Carl Sagan's Cosmos (1980)

Inspired by the Ascent of Man, Sagan's Cosmos widens the scope and places more emphasis on cosmology and astronomy. Although packed with vastly improved visual effects, it is no slouch in the content department. If the poetic language and haunting music doesn't get to you, then perhaps Carl Sagan's handsome face will.

Richard Dawkins' Growing Up in the Universe (1991)

Erm... not too familiar with this brash young fellow, but here's his TV lecture about evolutionary biology, filled with ingenious demonstrations.

We shall watch his career with great interest.


Edgar said...

Brash young fellow?! Hahaha Prof Dawkins is almost my idol =)

angry doc said...

Looks like some sort of hippy with that loud shirt, what? Will never amount to much, I dare say...

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Edgar:

That young upstart? Society will quell his candour - one day he will become soppy and all diplomatic-like. Mark my words! ;)

To Angry Doc:

Just a "reader" at Oxford... wasting so much time "reading" and not enough time "writing" - clearly not a man who could possibly write anything of consequence.

Edgar said...

Okie I get your odd sense of humour here.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Tee hee...

kamel said...

Nice picks. Way better than that Brainiac stuff you watch. :)

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Kamel:

Not "better", just different.

When I MUST know which big, round, juicy fruits will sink or float, Carl Sagan can't help me with this question.

Only Professor Myang Li can handle it.

kamel said...

I kid, of course. But you do raise an interesting question about floating orbs: real or fake?

Onlooker said...

Bill Nye the science guy?