Cornucopia of Delights Tonight seriously..
my mind is boggled. Watched them all and am now an enlightened one.
The Wonders of the Universe BBC1
Well missed about half of Professor Cox explaining the wonders of the universe the bad news being that the solar system and everything in it will eventually fade and die. Oh dear, that’s cheerful. Since this is on late and or in case we get depressed by this, Professor Cox, ever bubbly and prone to writing important numbers in lengthy scribes on the sand and opining wisely around singular glowing camp fires, tell us it’s ok:
“life is the way the universe understands itself”!
Even though the earth and life were just a wee window of opportunity in the path of “The window of light along the path of the arrow of time that leads from order to disorder”
nb.i thought i had understood it all previously even thought my brain felt fit to burst and could have sworn he said it was “disorder to order” after he had explained by means of a pile of sand and sandcastle the meaning of low and high entropy.
High entropy was when a structure could be moved around and still retain it’s form. Like the pile of sand. Low entropy was when very little interference caused the constructed sandcastle fall apart.
However now i see i was mistaken since it is the pile of sand as he explained which is the most likely form for the disorder of the universe to end up in.
You could move all the grains of sand around this pile and the general form remained the same. Thus it was more likely for the universe to end up like this pile of sand rather than the more unusual form of the sandcastle he had made from a bucket. However, and this was my favourite bit, the Professor stated that the formation of the ordered structured sandcastle was theoretically possible from the random swirl of sand. So you really can build castles in the sky..
Professor Cox did his best to assuage any panicking people on the delivery of this news about our solar system due to crank out by gentling pointing out that if he started counting all the atoms of the universe in his palm one by one it would be nowhere near the trillions of years we have until the whole big light bulb pops.
Cheerfully prosaic, Professor Cox described how one by one, the different types of stars would go. Our sun and others possibly first. That’s due to start in a billion years and end by 6 billion years. If we survive he postulated quite a sci-fi idea that there could be a red dwarf society as red dwarfs would be the next stars to be left standing. It could in theory work since they give off heat and solar flares, “which could be used for energy” the Prof. said. Cool.
nb. When Professor Cox walks around for some reason funky slightly rock music plays..Luckily this music doesn’t follow into his favourite desert hangouts. He looks like he’s on an eternal rave and might start talking about the sun God Ra any minute..
Yup, after the red dwarves go then it’s only the black dwarves left and since they are dreadfully intense in terms of matter ( i think i have that right) being of high gravity and full of decaying matter they don’t sound to good for living on. Oh well. Professor Cox did not dwell on that point. He did show us an amazing photograph of our teensy white glowing earth about the size of a translucent marble. This was our earth from 6 billion km away.
This photograph was taken from the Voyager probe he told us, on it’s last dip around the planets of Saturn and Jupiter. It had an orbit time of 13 years. The photograph was made up of two shots of earth and it’s surroundings. The photograph was very wide in size and laid out on the ground (in the desert again). This photo was made up of one shot of the earth taken thirteen years ago and a second shot as the Voyager turned for home 13 years later.
That little glowing light Professor Cox told us represented the small percentage of our existence relative to the length of the life of the universe and that :
” humans have walked the earth for only a brief fraction of time”
Professor Cox also told us optimistically that this photo showed how far we had come from building 13 temples to the sun. (so he did know about sun gods) and to the point where we could examine ourselves by way of science within the rest of the universe. Boy my brain may blow any time now..
Another bit i really liked was when he announced matter of factly that :
“There will be not one atom left, only faint light and black dwarves”.
Then they go.
“Then there is just photons “(looking like static on a black & white tv screen)
“Then there is absolute zero, meaning cold” too cold for atoms, so no particles can move.
( i think)
“Then the universe stops. Nothing then happens and will keep on not happening.”
Oh dear, dreary as this sounds and oh so horribly existential and all that, i couldn’t help immediately thinking of Talking Heads and their song:
“Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens”
boy, Talking Heads, they knew a thing or too about physics i reckon..
I’m not sure if you will want to hear the rest, it gets a bit black, literally, but not of course in terms of physics or the laws of physics. You canna change the law of physics, and as Professor Cox explained, time is the only reason we have a past and a future. Since order going to disorder changes from one thing to another and so involves a time span.
This all means that the universe can’t help blowing from the sandcastle into the sand so to speak. His sand demonstration really helped for me.
nb. The Professor did address the idea of creating a system whereby the universe would not necessarily dissolve into disorder thereby stopping the end of the universe. This was possible in theory he said although it could not support life. (since there would be no time the presence of which is necessary for the passage of growth-he didn’t say this i inferred it )
So, Professor Cox explained, and look away now if this is going to bother you, being a description of the end of the universe;
“when there is no movement of anything the arrow of time will stop moving as it’s supply of energy ceases The entire cosmos will die. Every star will go out, the death of everything. Our sun and other suns also will do the same and so other life will fail too.”
Oh well. All is not lost. Professor Cox, on the top of desert hill pokes his glowing red fire and stares beatifically at us in soft focus and intones that the best thing about our “now”
“our ability to explore and understand this beautiful universe”
This is hugely exciting..
Sacre bleu mes amis-Goodness gracious me–
i stopped watching Nightshift a couple of weeks ago thinking it had finished and now i discover that it hadn’t and is in fact the last two episodes tonight on BBC4 as above. Must now do battle with the i-player and figure out which episodes i have missed and catch up..
Please see month of June 2011 for Fun film in a thumbnail:Equilibrium: for full write up
Nightshift is brilliant, in my humble opinion, i hear the States is going to do a remake of it set in Louisiana. Whilst it’s a shame for them to miss out on the original and hearing spoken Icelandic which was fascinating to me and wonderful to hear i reckon they can carry it off. After all they remade anew The Office and that works.
Myself i haven’t watched The Office or The US Office much except for a brief and painful glimpse of Stringer Bell recently appearing in it. It all seemed so wrong. Don’t they know, that he’s Stringer Bell and or the inimitable Luther, he can’t be dead-panning doing comedy? Plus Stringer, or his proper name Idris Elba, seemed to be about ten feet tall compared to the rest of them, making the Office look like a doll’s house somehow.
Anyway, i digress, the Primary characters in The Nightshift are Gregor, the big bad bullying boss as previously described. Then Olafur his main victim and new arrival, young Daniel, new boy. Then there is the mysterious bubble gum girl or the girl in the booth. I say that since she is never named that i was aware of.
I am particularly fond of descriptions of sound seen in subtitles. (there may be a proper name for it) The bubblegum girl obviously chews bubble gum and blows bubbles and is forever ensconced in Nightshift in a booth at some indeterminate distance from the petrol station. For her the subtitles said in brackets: (bubble gum pops) brilliant!.
The secondary characters are Barnfrouer (apologies to any Icelanders if i have spelt that wrong) the name for Gregor’s fierce some mother. That word might just mean mother or grandmother. Then there is Daniel’s girlfriend a blond goddess wearing a stewardess uniform.. We are quite amazed to see her as Daniel at first is such a quiet shy soul and looks dreadfully young. Yet he has a truly knock out girlfriend.
Then there is Olafur’s cousins who arrive randomly at the petrol station. We as the viewers are quite glad to see them as they often stick up for poor bullied and terminally harried Olafur. They also serve to confirm some of his stories that hitherto we may not have been sure were true..Olafur’s cousin Olaf is from Olafur’s band which i wasn’t sure existed. Olaf arrives in a giant yellow limousine like nothing i have ever seen.
Olafur is offered a lift in said yellow apparition, about a mile long, full of giggling girls in a party mood. Olaf invites Olafur to join them and broken heartedly Olafur has to turn him down. Just like the wonderful chance of the X factor audition Olafur knows he won’t be allowed. Gutted he watches this once in a lifetime chance drive away into the night, full of partying people..
Then there is Brigitte, Olafur’s cousin a beautiful and famous singer seen pictured in a magazine by Olafur and Daniel. Olafur is very proud when Daniel points out a picture of Olafur in the background of this show biz photograph. Yes, he boasts, i party with them all and he claims to have been with the fair Brigitte “three times!”. However he neglects to mention that they are related..
When Brigitte appears in the petrol station and greets Olafur as her cousin, Gregor goes into full scale bellowing mode and repeats Olafur’s scurrilous gossip, shouting at the silent and shocked Brigitte:
“it’s incest, incest”!
You see Gregor has a habit of turning on the hapless innocent customers and being outrageously and shockingly insulting to them. He calls a Liberal party candidate whom he recognises the “Prince Of Darkness” just for starters before launching into a scathing and verbally eviscerating attack.
After reading that the actor who plays Gregor is actully the real Mayor of Reyjavik i reckon this scene must be an ‘in joke’ relevant to Icelandic politics.
Other secondary characters are Daniel’s parents who are overbearing and turn up to harass Daniel for dropping out of medical school. Daniel cries as they berate him and declaim how worried they are about him:”how can you mother concentrate on her ceramics?”
Then there is Gregor’s son, Flemming who is called other names in Icelandic, which might mean son& grandson. There is the Police who Gregor likes to call, most importantly, at the drop of a hat. There is the man with the stroke, the Japanese lady with the cans& The Japanese lady’s husband..
There is a customer from Gregor’s childhood who we find out bullied Gregor.(Which might explain a lot). There is the man with the fast car that Olafur chats to when he is off his head on mysterious Chinese ‘body building’ milkshakes..
The bubblegum girl in the booth is beautiful, dark of hair, with eyes like the bluest deepest see through sea. She says very little. Olafur has regular forays to her booth and obviously has a crush on her however has no winning female chat up lines or idea of how to talk to her. He freezes up into staccato sentences like a tongue tied schoolboy every time he tries.
The bubblegum girl seems to like and get on with Daniel. Quiet Daniel who we discover very early on has hyperventilating panic attacks in secret in the toilet. We realise that he has left University in some sort of fugue and maybe in the throes of a nervous breakdown.
When the bubblegum girl, from her vantage point outside, sees Daniel’s stunning girlfriend break up with him over leaving Uni and working in a petrol station she tells him:”i understand you very well” and tells him how she broke up with her boyfriend since “he always wanted me to do the things he wanted and i couldn’t have that”.
Slowly we see Daniel rise up from his hunched shoulders, silent misery and panic to sticking up for Olafur over Gregor’s harassment:
“It’s not just the money, it’s psychological violence” he tells Olafur:
“In the time I’ve been here he’s stolen thousands of Kroner of you”!
nb. We also see early on that Gregor is down on non-Icelandic names. Things get a little darker about the whole ‘foreign’ thing later as it turns out Gregor is a racist. I won’t give away the details. It’s hard to assimilate since you’re kind of getting to like Gregor. However evil and slightly insane he appears to be he has shown several strangled efforts at sympathy.
At the end of a seemingly 24/7 bullying sessions of Olafur by Gregor he painfully pats Olafur on the shoulder. Whilst Olafur is hanging out in his beloved blue truck in the service centre.
On reflection i wonder if Gregor’s behaviour with the Japanese Lady
may also derive from his over riding obsession with collecting cans for the money so he can go away on holiday in Sweden..
By the end of Nightshift we have seen Daniel become stronger, stand up straighter, stop Gregor deducting thousands of Kroners from Olafur and have a shouting match with Gregor. He also starts to use his diagnostic skills when Olafur starts exhibiting some very odd physical signs arising form his Chinese milkshakes in what is surely the funniest scene i have seen on TV for a very long time..
nb. The women in Nightshift are all incredibly goddess like, strong and fiery. Completely terrifying the men who cower quite quickly when they appear. These strong characters chime with what i learnt about Iceland and the Laxedale sagas from the Icelandic series on BBC4. The Laxedale saga tells of a lady who sailed to Iceland all the way from Scotland with 100 men, to settle there, 1,000 years ago. The Icelanders in that BBC4 series, like in Nightshift, talked in a lovely verse like direct way.