Episode 10 "The Electric Boy"
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5/12/2014 at 12:19:45 AM GMT
Posts: 142
Episode 10 "The Electric Boy"
This topic is devoted to episode 10 of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

5/12/2014 at 2:07:47 AM GMT
Posts: 41
I think they should have started with this one. Aren't these the kind of the science experiments and discoveries that draw kids in and make them appreciate and love science?

I missed the first 10 minutes or so. Did they mention anything about Faraday's or Maxwell's great faith or how their faith didn't get in the way of their science? I'm guessing, no. In a recent Twitter conversation with an agnostic, I could not dissuade him that faith doesn't have to impede the search for scientific knowledge -- so muddied are the waters from YEC arguments. But, what great models giants like Faraday and Maxwell were!!!

The animated presentations of the experiments and discoveries were well done and  I really enjoyed the episode.  You?

Last edited Sunday, May 11, 2014
5/12/2014 at 2:20:13 AM GMT
Posts: 19
Keith, I also liked this episode a lot. It didnt jump around but stayed focused on the main topic, and I thought it was a good teaching tool. And as a bonus, the answer to your question is actually yes, Tyson pointed out that Faraday was a lifelong fundamentalist Christian right at the beginning, and no disparaging remarks were made at all. So, kudos to Cosmos (finally).

5/12/2014 at 2:26:02 AM GMT
Posts: 142
It was indeed an excellent episode, Keith, I agree. Yes, at the beginning Tyson did mention Faraday's background of a fundamentalist Christian family and indicated that he kept that throughout his life. He said so without any aspersion or comment. But he made no allusion to the impact it might have had on his work and didn't mention it for the rest of the program. He did not mention Maxwell's faith.

I found this episode very informative and well-done. Some aspects were glossed over and I would have liked more detail. Like he never mentioned the composition of the glass brick that showed the interaction of electricity and light. What was it? Why did it work and nothing else? Tyson never said, and I can't recall.

And yes, it does show how personal grudges and jealousy can influence how scientists work--but it works out in the end! I don't recall hearing those details of Humphrey Davy and found that very interesting.

5/12/2014 at 2:29:27 AM GMT
Posts: 12
@Keith - Tyson mentioned that Faraday took seriously his family's "fundamentalist" Christian faith, but nothing more than that.
Since the word 'fundamentalist' has become something of a derogatory adjective in modern Western culture, I couldn't help but wonder if that was a deliberate usage.
For Maxwell, Tyson mentioned his family background, but nothing about Maxwell's faith.

What did you think of the presentation of Maxwell's Equations in their modern PDE form, to a general audience for whom that math would not be terribly illuminating? I doubt that most of the people watching would even understand what Tyson was talking about when he mentioned how Maxwell added the displacement current term to the Ampere's law (curl H) equation, without actually explaining why, really.

Other than the above, it was a good program - learning more about how Faraday came to be in Davy's employ, and Davy's attempt to sidetrack him, were interesting.  I thought it was almost providential that Faraday's time in the glassworks would provide him with the means to discover the influence of a magnetic field on polarized light.  Too bad they didn't tell us what was so special about the glass brick, though.  The Faraday Effect

Last edited Sunday, May 11, 2014
5/12/2014 at 11:58:10 AM GMT
Posts: 142
Many thanks for the link to the Faraday Effect, Victoria. I guess it's just as well that Tyson didn't try to explain the equations further! I still wonder whether there was something special about the glass brick that Faraday used or if this effect would have been visible to him with any of the glasses he had tried or was trying to make. From the article you cited, it all depends on the Verdet constant which does depend on the composition of the material. But it also seems that most glasses might have enough of an effect for Faraday to have seen it in other glasses as well?

5/12/2014 at 1:05:57 PM GMT
Posts: 41
Well, good, glad to hear they acknowledged at least Faraday's faith right up front even if they labelled him a fundamentalist.

I listened to a great audio talk on Faraday and Maxwell and their faith a while back but it doesn't seem to come up in a search. I'll let you know if I find it.

5/13/2014 at 12:54:10 AM GMT
Posts: 23
I affirm the "kudos" awarded above. And I didn't detect any hint of denigration even in Tyson's tone as he mentioned that Faraday derived "comfort" and "humility" from his fundamentalist Christian faith. Coming from this series, that "concession" is huge and I easily forgive them for forgoing any further mention of positive faith influence, even if they never mention Maxwell's faith. But they could just have easily left all of that out entirely for Faraday as well. I bet they are taking heat from any of their anti-theist supporters for even mentioning Christianity without opprobrium much less any seeming approbation!

It was a great history lesson for me too.

5/13/2014 at 4:13:41 PM GMT
Posts: 53
"Concession" may be the right word for the acknowledgement of his faith. It came across as if they had been reading our threads. *wink*

I would have liked to have seen a connection of his faith to his scientific views, which is done in many articles available on the web. His circular approach to forces broke the straight-line mold cast by Newton and advanced science more than any other in this field (pun unintended). I vaguely recall a claim that his very strict Presbyterian denomination (Sandemanians) had circular views on things, but this may not be correct because I can not find anything on it in my brief Google search.  [Apparently, he was a lay preacher, too.   Some of his sermons would be interesting, no doubt.]

Considering the pedestal they put him on, I am a little surprised they did not mention that the unit of capacitance is the Farad in his honor.

It was a very enjoyable episode.

Last edited Tuesday, May 13, 2014