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I have been looking for a good science show, but Nova scienceNOW wasn't it. Not so much the content as the absolutely juvenline format.

Can someone explain how I have misunderstood and the show really is meant for kids? Because it's designed like a kid's show, complete with silly music, wacky editing, colourful demonstrations/analogies to illustrate scientific principles, and narration that sounds as if written for a toddler. In this respect it's almost as unwatchable as Michio Kaku's (who's ordinarily a bright guy) weirdly infantile Science of the Impossible series. (It's also an incredibly American show, formatwise, extremely brash and loud and fluffy.) I started watching the show as I'm a fan of Tyson, but I ended up disappointed.

For now, the only regular series (as opposed to one-offs like Jim Al-Khalili's excellent shows on atoms and chemistry, or Sagan's Cosmos) I consider worth watching is BBC's Bang Goes the Theory (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lwxj1), which is fairly obviously targeted at teens, but has some good content. Two of the hosts are fairly annoying generic twentysomethings who do the show as though it's some kind of music video programme, but the third guy is an adorable geek with an obvious passion for science and engineering, and they have some assisting hosts who are quite quirky.




I can't agree with you more, on one hand the technical detail is somewhat increasing in American shows, but the over production and gimmicky nature certainly overshadows it. I'm always impressed by the technical level of BBC shows in comparison, but the best content is online, usually in lectures, and not TED.


They probably think they need the flashy production style to attract mainstream viewers, and in the US, perhaps that's true.

But I was similarly annoyed with Brian Cox's Wonders of the Solar System, which is beautifully designed and calmly edited, but comes across as really fluffy thanks to the lack of scientific detail and the gushing, ultrapositive personality of Cox, who describes everything as "brilliant" and "mindboggling". I like Cox, but he's a bit over the top.

I've found myself hunting down online content such as TED, and also Nottingham University's work, such as the periodic table of elements series (http://www.youtube.com/user/periodicvideos).


> Popular science, sometimes called literature of science, is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_science

Conflation of genres imo, both science shows and "popular science" shows can be enjoyed independently of one another, similar to how adults may enjoy both drama and comedy. From what I've seen of Bang Goes the Theory on youtube, it appears to be a clone of MythBusters and cover much fluffier one-off engineering problems simple enough to reproduce on TV.

On the other hand, ScienceNow is more of a newsmagazine that highlights what several different researchers are currently working on, and why they are interested in that problem. Ex: natural language processing robots, growing human ears on mice for reconstructive surgery, etc.


It's true that "Bang Goes the Theory" has elements of Mythbusters, but it's focused on the science as opposed to the action movie stuff. The programme is basically "popular science -- you know, for teens!". Their magazine style format typically has one segment where they put a scientific hypothesis, law or principle in practice by building various gadgets. Other segments are news-related stuff, such as (just after the Japanese earthquake) a long segment on the science of tsunamis. I'm not in the target demographic at all, so I don't really follow it, but I appreciate their focus on educating kids and encouraging scientific thinking about young people.


Glad to hear my programmes are well received. If you haven't seen it, you should also check out "Secret Life of Chaos" - on YouTube.

Jim Al-Khalili (Twitter: @jimalkhalili)


That was unexpected! Hi! Will check out the Chaos programme. I actually watched your doc on the aftermath of Fukushima earlier this week, and was very pleased with how balanced and low-key it was done; it was also unexpectedly moving.

"The Story of Electricity" and "Everything and Nothing" is also in my queue. And your University of Surrey session! You're a prolific guy! Between all the documentaries and books and radio programmes and lectures, do you find any time to do science research at all?




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