You know that gets me? TV Science. You know the stuff, those one hour shows comprised of a hodge-podge of internally consistent, feasible-sounding accounts of life on earth that the shuffling mouth breathers can pick up in the analogy section of Aldi.
Recently I tuned in to Steven Hawking telling us that the risk of a world ending nuclear detonation was tiny but over a fifty gazillion year time frame it was almost a certainty. The only thing separating ‘total annihilation’ from ‘not total annihilation’ was the phrase “fifty gazillion years”, a concept so unfathomable it might as well be the instructions on a jet-ski.
Good TV science begins with your microwave, or snow, or sneezing kittens, and then before you know it you’re off in a parallel world of impressive hyperbole, where all observable phenomena are translated into orders of magnitude larger or smaller than three tablets of Equal or the cubic capacity of an Clubsport R8. The message is clear; Science is intrinsically connected to your everyday life. It is knowable, human, and inside all kinds of stuff. Stuff you use. Everyday. Like Wow.
Take that Clubsport for instance, what’s in there? Well, a petrol engine of course. But what do you really know about the internal combustion engine? The Otto cycle? Thermal efficiency? Well, don’t panic! TV science is here to help!
Did you know, for instance, that the energy inside your car’s engine is in fact thousands of tiny universes bouncing around, crashing into one another, at more than fifty giga-pica-nodules per nano-second? It’s as if billions of meteors were aligning then re-aligning to create power! But don’t get too cheerful; After all, TV science has a strong narrative arc to follow, so all stories must conclude with a faintly ominous warning. You should know therefore that over the life cycle of the average universe this barbeque of physics under the bonnet can cause a dramatic increase in the dangerous sulphidoron gas: hexavolkaic acid, potentially threatening the seat covers and, ultimately, life on earth itself.
That’s if you’re on SBS.