Tuesday night, slumped in my armchair and idly clicking around on my 'magical-do-flicker-thingie' I came across a real 'baldy-bonce' called Prof. Jim Al-Khalili. Well, I'm not surprised he's bald because his brain cells must be leaping about beneath his skull at a ferocious rate. This man is a serious swot!
I immediately took to him because of who he was not! That is, he was not Prof. Brian Cox, 141/2, the BBC's usual swot of choice. I resent the fact that Prof. Cox looks so young but more, much more, I am infuriated when the juvenile geeks who design his programmes fill the screen with noisy, pointless cgi effects. By and large Prof. Al-Khalili avoids that sort of thing and instead uses wit, eloquence and intelligence to inform us of the profound mysteries of quantum mechanics.
My admiration for him and his programme was sealed when he actually made mention of a book I read some 35-years ago which had an enormous effect on me. It's fair to say that The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics by Gary Zukav had a profound effect on my internal life, or, if you prefer the current jargon - 'it blew my mind away'! Scientifically, it's almost certainly out of date by now but I treasure my dog-eared edition. And I should add, of course, that both then and now I had considerable difficulty in following the science but - heh! - even Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein, the two greatest 'brain-boxes' of the 20th century had major problems, too. They both disagreed fundamentally with each other's theories on the quantum world.
Part of what fascinates me is not so much the description of the quantum world, or the various theories proposed to make sense of what is apparently a bizarre or even lunatic description of what passes for 'reality' at that level, but the border between our world of tangible objects behaving rationally and measurably, and the quantum world where things both are and are not! Remembering, of course, that all the things in our world are made up of the things from 'loony-land'.
The programme was on last Tuesday evening on BBC4 so if you have one of those i-pod, i-pad, i-pud, or whatever they are, you may be able to watch it now. The second and final programme is on Tuesday next week. Not to be missed! Julia Raeside in 'The Graun' has written a very good review of the first programme.