Iain Stewart: How To Grow a Planet - (Jun/18/2012 )
Professor Iain Stewart(1964- ) is a Scottish geologist. As well as being professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, he has presented a number of television and radio series, such as: Journeys From the Centre of the Earth, Earth: The Power of the Planet, Hot Rocks, 10 Things You Didn't Know About…., The Climate Wars, How Earth Made Us and How to Grow a Planet. He has a way of making all of those dull subjects I took at primary and high school sound amazing, something I could have actually got my teeth into when I was a child and in my teens.
Last night, as I was running out of my daily quota of energy and falling asleep in front of the TV, his subject was photosynthesis. He called it: “plants harnessing energy from outer space.” When you put it like that, you start to see plants in a whole new light. Literally. Of course, the cinematography, the script-writing, Stewart’s enthusiasm and the organization of the material all helped to turn on my sensory and intellectual emporium, in spite of my fatigue, on a cold night in Tasmania’s winter. I am in the early years of my retirement having been on an old-age pension for three years. I might have had an entirely different career trajectory if I had been in school for this kind of curricular content.
Many of the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities are making use of television to bring their disciplines alive for a mass public. The process did not begin until I left school in the sixties, and became a teacher myself. I made extensive use of the electronic media as a teacher from the late 1960s until my retirement at the turn of the millennium.
This softly spoken, but engaging, geologist has traced our planet’s evolution through rocks and volcanoes; he has explained how plants turned the Earth from a barren, hostile, purple rock surrounded by toxic gases, into a planet we could call home. He’s had some very cool, if slightly hair-raising, experiments to show us what he’s talking about. I will mention but one: he extracted oxygen from a lump of iron ore and, as he did, he told us that: “I’m breathing oxygen that was created two and a half billion years ago.”-Ron Price with thanks to “How To Grow a Planet,” ABC1, 8:30-9:30 17/6/’12.
You are, perhaps, the world's most recognisable
face in the field of geology thanks to a string of
acclaimed and award-winning television series!!
You have opened vistas of knowledge for me!!
Learning and the cultural attainments of the mind
are, for me, the two most luminous lights in
the world of creation; the new & wonderful
configurations, dazzling rays of somewhat
strange, nay, heavenly powers, of splendour,
ever-varying, embellished with a fresh grace
deriving from wisdom and thought’s power.1
1Abdul-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1975(1929), p.1.
18 June 2012
hi Ron, indeed many people are trying to engage a broader audience into scientific topics, and some are incredibly good at doing it!
Even at my university we have this course of "Science and the media", however, there is always the possibility that the media misinterprets what you really want to say, as illustrated by this cartoon
Belated thanks for your post, Guitar Hero. You are certainly correct about the media not getting it right. I'll add some more about Stewart while here. He is busy making programs. Here is a list, FYI, from Wikipedia.-Ron
- Journeys from the Centre of the Earth (2004), six one-hour films charting how geology has shaped the history of the Mediterranean,<21> shown in the United States on Discovery's Science Channel as Hot Rocks: Geology of Civilization.<22> The series won the prestigious "Best Earth Science programme" award at the 2005 Jackson Hole Film Festival.<23>
- Journeys into the Ring of Fire (2006); four one-hour films showing how rocks shaped the history and culture in Japan, Peru, Indonesia and California.<24>
- Earth: The Power of the Planet (2007), US title: Earth: The Biography, five one hour films (Volcano, Oceans, Atmosphere, Ice, Rare Earth) about the forces that have shaped the planet and made it what it is.<25><26><27> Cerapachys iainstewarti, a species of Madagascar ant discovered during the filming of this series, was named after Stewart.<28>
- Ten Things You Didn't Know About... Volcanoes (2006), Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Avalanches, (2008).
- The Climate Wars (2008), three one-hour films tracing the history of the science and politics ofglobal warming.<29>
- Hot Planet (2009), with Kathy Sykes, examined global warming ahead of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.<30>
- How Earth Made Us (2010), ASIN: B002SZQCA2 (Blu-ray), US title: How the Earth Changed History, ASIN: B003DC8824,<31> five one-hour films on how geology, geography and climate have influenced mankind.
- Walking Through Landscapes, (2010) Radio show, BBC Radio Scotland.
- Making Scotland's Landscape, (2010) BBC television.
- Men Of Rock (2011) about scientists working in Scotland who pioneered geological study and understanding. BBC
- How to Grow a Planet (2012)
- Volcano Live (2012)<32>
- Swallowed by a Sinkhole (2014) Horizon, investigates why the geology of Florida makes it the sinkhole capital of the world, BBC TV<33>