It was billed as “The first ever national science tour celebrating the universe and many of the wonders that lie within it.” For me it was a chance to see the team behind the “Infinite Monkey Cage”. One thing that became apparent pretty quickly is that for everyone else, it was a chance to see Professor Brian Cox. Well that was my observation, based solely on the group of people behind me and the almost “Beatlemania” style reception as he finally got on the stage.
I was a bit apprehensive seeing this for 2 main reasons, the first was simply logistics. For me going from where I live to Newcastle is 2 buses away, however there was only one bus I could take leaving at 11PM before I was stranded in “the toon” all night. The seconds was a review I read “A combination of occasional sound and projection problems, a sense of under-rehearsal, and a serious inability to keep to time that saw the show overrun by almost an hour, left the whole thing feeling a touch amateur.” Thankfully for one night only the Projection and sound problems were gone, it ran over by about an hour (Was billed as 2 hours.)
Coming into the theater the sound system is pumping out “dark was the night, cold was the ground” by Blind Willie Johnson, for me, being the massive dork I am, I knew almost immediately that they were playing the fabled “Voyager record” and more importantly, that was the first “tip of the hat” to Dr Carl Sagan, a man who much to my joy played a rather large part in the show.
Just as the lights dimmed the heavily accented voice announced;
“We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship, to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our planet and all its inhabitants are but a small part of the immense universe that surrounds us and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.”
Followed by Robin Ince who said that The greeting was from the UN secretary general of the time Kurt Waldheim, who then turned out to be a Nazi, “We come in peace, for some of you.” Ince then launched into a 20 minute routine, explaining what the show was about, a few jokes, and then a bit on Feynman, a return to his now famous Sagan impersonation and a gentle ribbing of the Professor.
Once Ince had left the stage Professor Wiseman, a man I knew little about jumped right in with a rather amuzing (Hysterical) look at optical illusions, from a disappearing coin to Four tuna and a catchy song. Following on From Professor Wiseman was Ben Goodacre, scourge of woo and although medical fraud isn’t my forte a rather enjoyable look at how the mail in particular can spin a good health scare from both sides.
Following on from This out emerged Professor Brian cox, and once the old and young women stopped screaming he dove into a presentation which felt like a carbon copy of a talk he did for TED.com about the LHC (Albeit with a few funny references to the “wonders” drinking game. Following on from this there was a musical performance by the rather attractive and very funny Helen Arney.
Following on from the intermission was a small Brief Q&A with Ince, Cox, Singh and Goodacre which felt more in line with the Monkey cage off of the Radio. However while it was pretty amusing it still fell way short of the usual high caliber nerdery associated with IMC.
Following on from that Cox emerged again and did a bit on the Universe and again on the LHC Then for a finale Simon Singh came out and did more on the Big Bang.
For me Simon Singh and Richard Wiseman were the highlights of the night. Singh and the pickle experiment were brilliant. And for Me the highlight was listening to the Pale blue dot in its entirety.
What lowered the night was the mad run to the bus.
All in all it was a pretty brilliant night and I would have gone into it more but I started this review on May 8 and it’s now June 26th