History Channel, Thursday 6 October 2011, 9-11pm EDT
An ambitious project, given all of history in two hours, especially when you start at the Big Bang and spend the first 14 minutes or so doing cosmology and the creation of the world. But part of the logic is that the makeup of the universe in part controls what elements and materials are available and in what scarcity. Copper is three elements past Iron in the Periodic Table. That means that like everything past Iron it cannot be built up in the cores of stars by fusion alone -- it can only be created in the fury of supernova explosions. So advancing from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age not only made stronger materials, but more common ones.
So what is civilization? What does civilization move around the globe from peoples to peoples? Apparently it's dark magenta smoke. (grin) At least they used smoke trails snaking through the Silk Road and crossing the Atlantic, billowing from the sacks on camels, pouring out of smoke stacks, etc. But... all kidding aside, the metaphor is a good one.
I suppose one could criticize the animations of representations of morphing and construction and development, which might give some people the wrong idea. They get shown repeatedly in recapitulations to remind the viewer of their point, probably because they really are trying to create a coherent and complicated weaving together of facts and influences. Images get inlaid and expanded in things like the representation of the Big Bang and expansion -- again, a metaphor rather than literal. And for my tastes the space program and modern communications and computers get short shrift. But given that they don't get to the 20th century until 14 minutes left, there's only so much you can include.
After all 14 minutes was enough to cover the first 10 billion years of history. (double-grin)
So Who's This Good Looking Guy?
This is our friend Craig Benjamin. Transplanted Aussie, professor at Grand Valley State University and the most energetic True Renaissance Man that I know. He teaches, among other things, a History course which covers this whole scope of the Universe sort of thing. And he's one of the talking heads used in this show.
We knew he'd worked on this project, but Mrs. Dr. Phil found out during a noontime water aerobics session today when Craig was in the pool that it was on tonight -- which is why I didn't get a chance to post advance warnings out there. But I think it'll be run again on the History Channel.
It's a cool show. And it's so very cool to know somebody who's in it! Thanks, Craig! I wish we could spend more time talking... about everything.