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Science!

You get – that.

(Spotter, Will)

23 thoughts on “Science!”

  1. Yeah, all his shows were excellent TV and proper science (unlike these days) but don’t forget he could hear the countdown……..

  2. @Grist… RIP indeed! Unfortunately succeeded by its two miserable 4th-cousins – “The Science” and “Scientivism”. 🙁

  3. How history repeats.. “Moscow… Or Peking”…

    And Adolff… Then he still had to time it on the fly to make the sound match…
    Even when you know what is happening, that is a *lot* harder than it looks..

  4. To be fair the ignition time was know and it was a 12 second clip so he could have rehearsed it dozens of times with a countdown clock by the camera. But that in itself is the smart bit.
    James Burke was my hero. I watched everything he did, and still remember much of it. What’s interestingly relevant today were the bits about Nuclear Fusion and also Artificial Intelligence on “Connections” in 1978. If the US gets back to the moon in a few years I suspect we will be treated to some of his original Apollo coverage too.

  5. Jimmers, we don’t argue.

    We ask: “Can you corroborate your data model with actual observed values?”
    Or if you’re feeling frisky: “Have your models become more accurate than Punxsutawney Phil?”

    They hate that…

  6. Grikath, absolutely wonderful television by an excellent presenter. I am a great admirer of James Burke and have a couple of his books that accompanied the tv shows.

    But I bet it was rehearsed……

  7. I won’t be happy until ‘The Science’ has been brought to justice, hanged and is lying (what else did he ever do?) in his coffin.

  8. A monument to the profligacy of the BBC. Presenter & (numerous) recording team sent to Florida to do location shots for a subject only peripherally connected to the location. But normal for the BBC. The budget is merely an afterthought.

  9. And to be picky, the comments here have established that neither the launcher in the shot nor the Saturn V first stage were gas/gas fuelled but none of them have much to do with Brentwood’s second famous product*. The liquid gasses on rockets don’t owe their storage abilities to the principal. It’s more of a scale thing. Surface area being a square & volume a cube.
    *First is of course Ilford Films. The third, regrettably, Alan Sugar.

  10. Grikath,
    You’re clearly anti – The Science if you ask those sort of questions. Just believe and all will be well….

  11. Sound does not travel fast enough for the rocket noise to synchronise so perfectly with the ignition at the place where Burke was standing. Some clever post-production has to have been involved.

  12. AndyF: Yep. I loved Connections as a kid. I’d have been 7 when it first aired. I keep thinking I must have been older and it was a re-run, but I don’t think so. I was a precocious brat (for all the good it did me), and Burke was an excellent communicator.

    BiS: True. But at least Burke wasn’t trying to ram a controversial political agenda down your throat. I remember there was one episode (the final one?) in which he presented three ways of looking at the future, but he fairly noted the pros and cons of each, including the precautionary Green one.

  13. And a brief biographic since it was concurrent with the clip & so much in the spirit of the times. Ilford Films, or Selo as it called itself then, is probably – brief as it was – the only “proper job” I’ve ever had.* Imagine going into your bedroom at night with the curtains pulled & lights out, getting in the wardrobe & shutting the door. That’s the conditions you handle heavy industrial machinery with a great deal of moving parts & rolls of film base weighing half a ton. The whole thing being 100 yards long on several levels. At the time they were also still making product on the machines that produced gun camera film for WW2 fighters. It was all eventually brought of its knees thanks to the endeavours of the General, Municipal & Boilermaker’s Union’s insistence on vast overmanning.. It’s now a housing estate. It’s the only time I’ve ever been paid overtime rates (triple over Easter weekend) to sleep. And very comfortable it was in the dark & warmth.
    *A vile necessity towards the end of the Wilson/Callaghan reign of terror.

  14. I think James Burke collected footage for various subjects when on location, not just popping over for one 10-minute piece. By watching closely you can tell as subtle things like hair change between shots, and change back in later programmes.

  15. PJF… I call Fake on that vid…

    A librarian-type fake-blonde in a pleather short pleated skirt would never be caught on camera without at least Deep Cleavage out.
    Professional ladies have their standards, you know….

    Jimmers.. The Science may need belief. I dunno, never been good at Godbothering.
    Now where’s my colander? The Carbonarists are pushing their Heresy again, and they still need to pay their part of the tab from last week!!

    Decnine, very heavy post-production. That stuff was done by the same organisation that gave us the Narrative of Attenborough.
    Honestly, the only time he and his crew filmed nature as it actually is, he was coming off a pile of bat guano retching and sneezing as if he’d been hit by a teargas grenade.

  16. Some bloke on't t'internet

    As mentioned by others, James Burke had a glorious ability to explain (well, ish) science to the masses. You can get Connections on DVD, and it’s well worth it IMO.
    To a certain extent, Richard Hammond fronted a program that tried (and failed) to emulate Connections. It failed for several reasons … Richard Hammond just doesn’t have the same presentation skill for that sort of material, and they simply couldn’t present the science without cutting it down to a level suitable for a toddler creche (and often getting it wrong at that !)

    @ BiS What you don’t mention is that while it’s dark, incredibly dark, you cannot comprehend how mind numbingly dark … oops, confusing it with HHGTTG description of space … it would be in your wardrobe – it’s not actually quite as dark as it first seems.
    Particularly if handling B&W stock, there would actually be a reasonable amount of light – but very carefully filtered to not include any colours the film is sensitive to (I might still have my old darkroom light somewhere). For that it doesn’t take long for the eyes to adjust* before it’s safe to go walking around as if it’s daylight. Colour stock is a different matter – light levels are even lower and even more heavily filtered, so the starting point is something like 15-30 minutes before you’ve enough dark vision to see anything at all – after which things get better. Incidentally, one product of a local company here is LED lighting for such environments …
    A bigger issue will be the skills of those procuring stuff – like the machines you mention. Just like people will be used to certain car colours all appearing “black” under sodium yellow street lights, some colours will be invisible (or indistinguishable from what might be considered different colours under daylight) under darkroom conditions. Get it wrong and you create avoidable dangers.
    * Light bleaches chemicals in the retina which are needed to perceive light. So when going from “bright” to “dim”, initially vision is significantly impaired. Over time, these chemicals are restored – so for example, going into a darkroom from bright daylight will initially leave you effectively blind, over time your vision does improve in the absence of lots of bleaching lights.

  17. @ T’Internet Bloke.
    It’s a bit different from darkrooms because the film’s exposed for far longer. With some processes, cumulatively, hours. You have to think in terms of coating (multi-coats), slitting, chopping & packaging.
    But you’re right. It’s surprising what light levels one can operate under. One adapts. And the longer you do it for, the quicker you can adapt. And one’s peripheral vision is rather better than one’s focus. So it helps if you don’t look directly at things. But it’s also touch & importantly memory. Even after all these years I can still comfortably walk around in an almost perfectly dark room & even pick up something left on the table. As long as nobody’s moved things since I last saw or handled them. Like riding a bicycle, I’spose.

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