Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|A Science Odyssey - The Journey of a Century |
Actor: Edwin Hubble; George Ellery Hale; Frederick Banting; Charles Osgood; J.B. Collip; Charles Best; Alexander Fleming; Henry Ford; Sigmund Freud
Penicillin. The airplane. Pulsars. Organ transplants. The atomic bomb. Psychoanalysis. The Model T. DNA. Volcanoes. The computer. Apollo 8. Travel to the dramatic frontier of scientific discovery and exploration as the mos... more »
Highly entertaining, intelligent documetaries on science
John Grabowski | USA | 09/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We all hated science in school, right? Science was boring. Science was for nerds. Science was dry and dusty facts about rocks and larvae and the solar corona, which sounds kind of like a beer from the tropics.
Well, Virginia, science doesn't have to be dull, and this series is proof. "A Science Odyssey" is a superb, fascinating set of documentaries on the science *and* the humanity behind the science. It's all extremely literate, doesn't dumb-down its subject one bit, and is chock full of interesting scientists who are enthusiastic about their fields of endeavor. Yet this is science your grandmother could understand. These shows strike the perfect balance between being substantive and being accessible to the lay person.
"A Science Odyssey" ran on PBS late in 1999, and dealt with scientific learning through the 20th century, each episode starting in an appropriate 1900 location for that show's theme and ending in its modern counterpart. Rather than just deal with one narrow topic for two hours, each episode has a broad conceptual theme, and shows connections between each that are often not readily apparent: for example, "Origins" deals with, well, origins, of all sorts of things: life, continental drift, DNA, intelligence. "Bigger Better Faster" deals with everything that got bigger, better and faster in the 20th century: cars, planes, spaceships, computers, and synthetics (which are often better or at least less expensive than their natural counterparts). "Matters of Life And Death" give us a survey of advances of medicines and treatments. The shows are chock full of fascinating anecdotes: we learn about the unlikely invention of nylon, for example, something rarely discussed today, and learn about the bi-polar mind of the man who invented it, who shortly thereafter committed suicide in a fit of depression. We learn about how plate tectonics went from a screwball theory on the radical fringe to an accepted scientific explanation for earthquakes and continental formation, and how deep-sea exploration inadvertently provided the missing piece to the puzzle.
Charles Osgood hosts, and fortunately does not talk in rhyme here. The scripts are extremely well-written, the "theatrics" are kept to a minimum and the historical footage is fascinating. It all moves very quickly, appropriate for this television sound-bite age, but you come away smarter after each one. This should not be out of print. In fact, it should be on DVD, but I'm not holding my breath. These shows were made for the millenium, and are probably considered too "dated" to be of interest today.
(P.S. 10/20/05: I'm happy to report I was wrong about my prediction--PBS has finally put these on DVD! [It's about time. What's the matter, PBS, did you run out of cooking videos and Andre Rieu?] WARNING: do not try to buy these DVDs separately, even from people who claim to have the episode "Origins" in stock. For some reason I could not individually order that one title from anyone, even those who claimed to be able to ship it in 1-2 days. Distributors are currently out of this episode--even PBS itself has no more copies. I finally had to, after ordering the other four episodes separately, order the entire box and sell off the redundant DVDs in the set, all to get "Origins" on DVD. Worth it, but a pain.
Also, a note if you do get these on DVD: For some unimaginable reason [other than stupidity], if you choose "Play" from the menu, THE DISCS DO NOT START AT THE BEGINNING. They start either after the Prologue, or after the Prologue and Introduction depending on the disk. You thus miss the whole "set up" of each episode, the central question or issue. So instead of pressing "Play" in the root menu, go into the chapter selections and start with the first chapter, "Prologue.")"
A jaw-dropping chronicle of advancements, theories, and what
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 09/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Science Odyssey is a five-DVD, ten-hour series that explores the wonders of scientific discovery throughout the century. Titled "Origins", "Bigger, Better, Faster", "In Search of Ourselves", "Mysteries of the Universe", and "Matters of Life and Death", episodes explore everything from the intricate workings of computers to the components of the human brain to the wonders of the stars. Each episode also covers how advances in technology and human understanding have revolutionized culture and daily life in the past hundred years. Special DVD features include printable materials for educators, a closed caption option, and a described video feature for the visually impaired. A jaw-dropping chronicle of advancements, theories, and what they tell us about ourselves and the universe we live in, suitable for viewers of all ages. 5 DVDs, 560 minutes, fullscreen color.