Hey, do you remember the time when everyone thought the world would end because the Mayan calendar predicted it. That seems so long ago now doesn’t it? To prepare for the end of all things me and Mrs G went to see Professor Cheekbones and celebrate all things sciencey with the rock stars of science.
I say rock stars, but this definition means that having a series on BBC radio or BBC4 elevates you to celebrity scientist status. Are scientists the new celeb-job, we’ve had celeb home designers in the early 2000′s and then moved to celeb-chefs. Where will it go from here? I’m hoping something more met like celeb-celebs (although this may just be an extension of reality TV *ahem* stars).
Even the most anti-science follower would have been swayed by the line-up and the subject matter, not because of the content but at four and a half hours long Stockholm Syndrome would have kicked in. The length of the show was almost as long as the Mayan long calendar that we were all gathered to debunk.
In total there were about 30 different acts, so my memory is as vague as to what was actually going on, however here are a few of the highlights of the evening:
- Alan Moore telling us not to worry about the end of the world, as we may just live in a 2D holographic universe (which may be the centre of a black hole). I think he is still angry about the film of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
- Stewart Lee reading a statement from the Mayan God’s of Death explaining why they have not been able to deliver the apocalypse on time.
- Jon Butterworth demonstrating how a Feynman diagram also allows him to explain the existence of the tooth fairy to his children. It all relies on the fact that science doesn’t know what happens during a collision so it can basically be anything.
- Marcus du Satoy explaining the maths of the Mayan calendar, and providing the good news. It’s actually all going to end in 4277 or around then. No need to worry (unless we live in a 2D universe).
- Jim Al-Khalili reading Richard Feynman‘s on how science adds not subtracts from the world (and what better than the man himself to explain)
- Festival of the Spoken Nerd doing amazing stuff with a retro PowerPoint…the OHP!
- A tribute to the space shuttle program from Adam Rutherford and 65daysofstatic (at this point it got very dusty in the auditorium and some got in my eyes).
- THE INTERVAL!
- PROFESSOR BRIAN COX! Although he was showing us his favourite holiday snaps of the universe so spent his entire 10 minute slot with the lights down.
- Simon Singh talking about the Enigma machine and Alan Turing (who got a round of applause from all).
- Evan Harris and Hugh Grant (yes that one!) re-enacting the greatest hits of the Science Select Committee hearings.
- Ben Goldacre explaining the importance of random trials and the travesty that is companies holding back negative trial results (which has driven him sell his soul and write and editorial for the Daily Mail).
- PBC then had a Skype call from LA, Eric Idle wanted to know the cricket score (we won!)
- Jon Culshaw and Chris Lintott presented a section on Patrick Moore, more applause (we science geeks remember our own).
- Ben Miller gave his some of his highlights from the year. Discussing the discovery of the Higgs with Jamelia and sharing in the joy of the Mars Rover with Sadie Frost (this part was lost on Mrs G as it was very UK-pop-culture referenced).
- Chemistry! Which meant test tubes larger than a man full of noxious gas being ignited. If the show was 10 hours of things being set on fire it would still be too short.
- Dara O Briain rounding the main part of the show off with his views on the film we should all have watched 2012. I had never noticed by the speed of the lava chasing John Cusack is always slightly slower than the means on transport he is using (whether it be foot, car or plane).
- Then as Professor Mountain-top-pointing played Vangelis, the show’s host Robin Ince read some more Feynman and told us that in the dawning of these new days things can only get better…
- …which naturally leads on to a d:ream reunion and a big old sing a long!