Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wonders of Life (2013)

Presented by: Professor Brian Cox

It is a five part television documentary series presented by physicist Professor Brian Cox about the origination and evolution of life on our planet Earth. Coming from a physicist, there is obviously a stress on physical and chemical properties which made life possible and its evolution into complex beings on Earth. The series was produced by BBC and China's state television network CCTV.

The five episodes, each of which is set in one particular continent, covers:

1) What is Life? -This episode is set in South East Asia explains what is life and how it began on Earth. The possible starting point is given as deep oceanic vents with the required proton gradient.

2) Expanding Universe?- Episode is set in North America (US) and details how senses arose based on laws of science. Carbon cycle is also explained in detail.

3) Endless forms most beautiful- Is set in Africa and Madagascar examining how complex organisms got evolved and why Earth is such a fertile ground for such evolution. It explains that even though many people dismiss evolution as a random mechanism, it is anything but since there is an underlying mechanism called Natural Selection which governs whether the random mutations persist.

4) Size Matter-This episode is set in Australia and looks at how the laws of Physics determine the range of sizes for organisms that is possible in both land and water and why water animals can grow to relatively large size compared to land ones.

5) Home- The final episode is set in Mexico, and details what makes Earth a home for life and what ingredients were required for complex life to begin. It explains how water got trapped in Earth and also the presence of oxygen in our atmosphere which is vital for the carbon based life that persists in our planet.

I had previously seen Brian Cox presented TV series 'Wonders of Solar System' and 'Wonders of Universe' prior to this, and he does very well to explain basics of things. Coming with a history of being in a music band (D:Ream), these documentaries' of his are characterized by being very atmospheric with great ambient music. I always prefer these to the loud narration and exaggeration of US produced documentaries. It is accessible to all and it is always good to get your basics right. Wonders of Life is not as exciting to watch as WoSS and WoU but it is still very good and the progression is increasingly complex, like life.

Rating: 4/5