Saturday, December 24, 2011

Science Saturday: Do We Really Need the Moon?

The answer is yes, of course, but there's a whole myriad of reasons why.   Do We Really Need the Moon? investigates a whole slew of them and comes to a conclusion: life on Earth would not be possible without the Moon.

Unfortunately this is the rare instance on DocumentaryHeaven where people don't seem to have their act together; the first clip in the playlist (about the phenomenon known as a "super moon") is unrelated to the rest of the piece and seems to be spliced in there from another show entirely.

Taking off my science nerd hat and putting on my sociology nerd hat, it's nice to see this BBC documentary narrated by a woman of color, Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who would be cool and inspiring even if she weren't talking about the moon. (How many women of color in the sciences can you name? Yeah, thought so.) She seems to be Britain's version of Neil deGrasse Tyson, which is to say: a total rockstar for science. A teacher tried to dissuade her from becoming an astronaut, but Aderin-Pocock basically told her to sod off and promptly got her A-levels in math, physics, chemistry, and biology.  While being dyslexic.

When she's not hosting documentaries about space, running her own company, or encouraging boys and girls of every race and class to pursue the sciences, Aderin-Pocock works on rockstar things like missile defense systems, landmine detectors, and telescopes.

The good: Dr. Aderin-Pocock is an engaging and charismatic host, and again the BBC ensures the footage is of high, professional quality.  She also takes interesting little tangents (like the myth[?] about crazies coming out on the full moon) that are just as interesting as the hard science stuff.

The bad: Like The Core, Do We Really Need the Moon? sometimes leans a little too heavy on the melodrama.  Perhaps this is a trademark of the BBC's approach to science in general?

One interesting fact: The moon influences the Earth's orbit and keeps it from wobbling and tilting like crazy.  It's possible that without the Moon, the Earth would rotate on its side, like Uranus!

Would recommend? Yes!  Though, if possible, purchase it from the BBC or torrent the entire thing, as the version on cuts out the first part (and the end of the second clip and the beginning of the third clip overlaps quite a bit as well).

Did you watch it?  What did you think?  Let me know in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment