Life, the Universe and Everything…

16 03 2011

A graduate of Cambridge University, the late great Douglas Adams, famously wrote about Life, the universe and everything; volume three (in the trilogy of five) of his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.    

The books were based on his renowned 1970s science fiction comedy radio series and, according to Adams, the idea for the title occurred to him while he lay drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria, staring up at the stars.

Adams had a great interest in wildlife preservation, and championed a number of causes in support of rare species, such as the mountain gorilla and black rhino.

In 2003, following his untimely death (in 2001, aged only 49) Save the Rhino, instigated an annual Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture. The ninth of these fund-raising events was given earlier this month; The Universe and Why We Should Explore It, by Professor Brian Cox OBE.                

Graduate, turned professor, of the University of Manchester and science broadcaster (with a self-confessed passion for Douglas Adams) Brian Cox is very much flavour of the month. His Wonders of the Universe, a follow-up to the Royal Television Society Award winning Wonders of the Solar System, is totally compelling, if a little mind-boggling, and great television, although the background music is apparently a tad loud for some viewers!

Hundreds have apparently taken time to complain to the BBC (do these people have a life?) who have immediately ‘jumped’ and are re-mixing the soundtrack to the series, despite Professor Cox’s misgivings that there is a tendency to respond too quickly when a minority of people complain, and his assertion that , “It should be a cinematic experience – it’s a piece of film on television, not a lecture.”        

Adams’ Life, the Universe and Everything might have been a suitable title for the recent intriguing, Stardust, episode in which Cox explained how the 92 elements, which make up all living things including ourselves, are a product of a massive universal recycling scheme.     

In order to simplify this rather complex branch of particle physics, Brian certainly racked up a few Airmiles and planted a fairly large carbon footprint by visiting some pretty exotic locations!

Stardust opened with the good professor introducing his hypothesis, that human existence is inextricably linked to the life cycle of the stars, while perched on a snow covered peak in the Chilean Andes.

A Hindu temple in the Nepalese city of Kathmandu provided a suitable backdrop for the revelation that we are all made of Carbon, the Atacama desert proved the perfect place to blow bubbles, showing how hydrogen protons combine to form neutrons, and an old cell block in Rio was just right for demolishing, in order to demonstrate the nuclear fusion that takes place inside dying stars.

All totally riveting, but some might say a tad extravagant. Then again you can’t blame the charismatic,  photogenic, former pop band keyboard player for living the ‘D: Ream’. I’ve got a sneaking feeling that, for this telegenic son of  Oldham and Royal Society University Research Fellow, ‘Things can only get better!’    

But then again isn’t that rather cheesy smile somewhat reminiscent of another ‘wannabe’ Rock star who borrowed the same theme song to promote his political ambitions?  In fact he was probably still humming it on his way to the Iraq Enquiry!

Christian Brassington (pictured along side the former PM) won critical acclaim for his portrayal of TB in the 2006 More 4 production Tony Blair Rockstar before being lured across the floor, by the same company – three years later, to play BJ (currently Mayor of London) in When Boris Met Dave!

Channel 4 promoted this film as an  “exploration of the shared past at Eton and Oxford of the two most powerful Conservative politicians in Britain: London Mayor Boris Johnson and party leader David Cameron” – all rather worrying !

Well they’ve both grown up and moved on from their bun fighting days at the Bullingham Club haven’t they? 

‘Call me Dave’, is in charge of the country now, busy promoting his Big Society, filling in Labour’s economic black hole, and sabre rattling on the World Stage with regard to the Libyan Crisis, while BJ is on his bike preparing to welcome the world and his wife to the 2012 Olympics – still rather worrying!

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