Friday, 26 March 2010

Wonders of the solar system.



And speaking of sci-fi, I am really enjoying the BBC's Wonders of the Solar System. I realise that it is science-fact rather than science-fiction, but frankly the facts are often so bizarre that it feels like fiction.

The programme is presented with wide-eyed and contagious enthusiasm by ex pop star Professor Brian Cox. At least it says he is a professor, but he actually looks like a slightly dippy newly qualified teacher with a an evangelical desire to make physics fun. He is perfect for this though. He knows his stuff and is quietly radical in his championing of a rational view of the cosmos, but he is also young enough to be still connected with his boyhood fascination with space.

It was a fascination I shared. When I was a boy we lived for a few years in Gibraltar. My father was in the army and we were stationed there. My father had actually been stationed there in WWII for a while. We had an apartment with a balcony that overlooked the Mediterranean and had views out across to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

The night sky was often crystal clear. This was the 1960s and the space race between the US and the USSR was full on. I'm not sure there was a child anywhere at the time who was not caught up in the excitement of it. It is certainly no accident that the first piece of writing I did that ended up in print was a short story called Journey to the Moon. It was entered into a competition (by my parents? My teacher?) run by the local paper, El Calpense. The story was published in the newspaper.

I won a medal. I still have it.

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