Monday, September 05, 2011

The Code

I finally managed to catch-up with all three episodes of BBC2's "The Code" and I'm kind of wishing I hadn't bothered.

The premise is that underlying nature and its 'laws' is mathematics and a mathematician is drafted as presenter to demonstrate this. So from this start this is difficult for me to accept this as a science programme as the conclusion has already been made and the facts are being found to fit such rather than the correct way around. Also not helped by the phrase "the code" being constantly used.

This failed in other matters too - when discussing prime numbers the presenter, Professor du Sautoy, states that they are the indivisible building blocks of mathematics just as atoms are in physics. To which my verbalised response was "So what are electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks...?" So once again we have a specialist in one field of science interjecting themselves in other branches. Now sure mathematics is the underpinning of pretty much all science, but that doesn't mean a mathematician understands all science.

At another point he demonstrates Pi and shows that the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter is a constant; actually no he doesn't he tells us this before using it in a standard deviation test to estimate the maximum weight of one fish that someone may have caught. 'But what has pi, a number related to circles, got to do with fish?' he asks before uttering "the code" and leaving it there. Hmm I don't know perhaps because standard deviations are a result of curves which you'd already visually demonstrated correspond to circles. Something we all might have answered if instead of showing us this:

He'd shown us something like this:
Mentioning the visuals this leads me to another annoyance - the fact that the producers don't think we the audience possess any form of... um where was I? Roughly every ten minutes we get a two minute rehash of what just happened. Not in the boring old way of the presenter just repeating it oh no we get ghost images of previous scenes with echoey voice snippets that may or may not jibe with the scene. All presented in some sort of cod pseudo-religious fashion as if we should be fascinated and mystified by the code; sorry The Code.

That was just the first episode, the second was about shapes and touched on fractals, bubbles, and hexagonal patterns. It could have been really interesting - I nearly fell asleep watching it. I managed to stay awake for the third episode, but it was just like the first - interjection of facts with no explanation or at least none that would fit into The Code.

The worst kind of science-lite; not gripping enough to intrigue a newcomer, but not heavy enough to interest anyone else.


Rob D said...

Couldn't agree more. I sat through half of the first episode before turning to the newspaper as a more interesting alternative. Shame really. Prof. du Sautoy's book "The Music of the Primes" is actually a decent treatment of the subject - but this program is more like a wannabe "Da Vinci Code" and lacks credibility, structure and scientific accuracy. Oh well...

FlipC said...

The contrast is between this and the latest Horizon's which having fallen in quality now seem to be picking themselves back up.

I think most damningly of all the things I could say would be - I can see this as having been broadcast on Channel 5; it was so light.

Orphi said...

My mum recorded this especially so I could watch it.

I shouldn't have bothered.

Presumably it repeats so much because that reduces the amount they have to spend on filming stuff.