Saturday, January 22, 2011

BBC Horizon: What is reality?

Last week, the BBC TV aired another one-hour program from its Horizon collection, What is reality?. It's a brand new show - one that already carries the year 2011. Here it is:

You will meet people such as Lenny Susskind, Seth Lloyd, Frank Wilczek, Anton Zeilinger, Max Tegmark, and others. Frank Wilczek plays with fruits on his cottage while the Tevatron is celebrated for its discovery of the top quark.

I like the mysterious voice of the narrator. But lots of bullshit scenes - like meaningless discussions about, well, "what is reality" - get boring very quickly. Zeilinger explains the double-slit experiment - well, not too much - and Lloyd says things about quantum computing - well, not too many.

Susskind discusses the information loss paradox and shows the house where Hawking shocked him by (not ultimately correct) claims that the information was lost. The holographic principle is explained by a moving but fake three-dimensional blonde lady. They also use Susskind and his clone and one of them is holographic. No one understands it, they claim.

Craig Hogan shows his holometer. An extensive apparatus given the fact that these self-described "holographic" effects he conjectured clearly don't exist. Max Tegmark says a lot of things I agree with to the extent that they look totally vacuous to me. Unless he thinks he is saying something more than that in which case it's wrong. ;-)

They return to the TeV physics, mention the LHC but remain the Tevatron fans. The Higgs boson is mentioned but not explained. Wilczek, Susskind, and others are led to say vague things about the reality instead. Well, I think that these programs have become much less demanding - but it's also true that the British audience has grown much more ignorant when it comes to physical sciences in the last 20-30 years. It's a nation in decline, and it's not the only one.

Via Phil Gibbs who also says something about the content

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