Friday, August 17, 2007

Deep Cake Time

I've been sadly neglectful of the blog to date, for various reasons, most of them quite dull - even the one involving the cabbage. Actually, especially the one about the cabbage.To get some momentum, I hereby resolve to take a more splatter-gun approach to the the process. It means less planning, mainly, and probably more drivel. Oh well.

In the home-grown spirit that reflects the blog's latest direction, I wanted to mention a new-found reason to love Open University/BBC telly programmes. I've been watching the series, "Coast" (a tour around the coast of the UK in 12 episodes delivered by a mixed bag of academics). There's a bit in the one where one of the experts gives a basic explanation the creation of the Jurassic coast down Dorset & Devon way.

Picture the scene: the anthropologist (and I don't know why she's talking about geology, but as will soon become clear, this is more of an introductory session than an in-depth discussion that flings around words like "igneous" and "lithostratigraphic" with wild abandon) has hair dyed crayon-red and arranged in windblown plaits that clash with her maroon anorak. She is sitting on a flimsy aluminium table outside a seaside caff somewhere like Lyme Regis. It's windy, grey and looks like rain. A waiter brings her three slices of cake on a paper(edited to add) blue-edged, china plate. (Sorry, but I wouldn't want to give anyone the wrong impression, since apparently plates are quite important to geologists.)

Using the cake, the helpful academic piles up the Triassic (ginger) Jurassic (Victoria sponge) and Cretaceous (Madeira with extra peel) layers horizontally. Tilting the three-layer cake on its bottom corner to illustrate the way the strata sank to the east during the Cretaceous period, she then represented the coastal erosion that exposed all three layers with a plastic knife used to slice off the upper corner.

Cake, geology and probably a nice cup of tea at the end. Lovely.


sallyacious said...

I so envy you the whole "Open University" thing. I used to work for public television here in the US, and we broadcast some educational programs like that. Stuff to help people get more in-depth knowledge on a given topic. Only ours were things like "Dental Hygienist, Year One".

If this is scattershot, I'm enjoying it and vote for more of the same.

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Hello sallyacious. To be fair to US public TV, this was one of the OU's more commercial productions (which is why I could get it out here on DVD). In other words, light-years away from the notorious educational programmes on seventies' late-night telly, when a bearded man explained theoretical physics on a chalkboard with nothing more than a wooden pointer.

Sadly, they've now ended their late-night course-related broadcasts in favour of online material, but hopefully, they'll carry on with the commercial stuff. Apparently "Coast" was a surprise hit, won an award (BAFTA) and they've made more episodes, which might be a sign that audiences are recovering from their reality-tv obsession.

Anyhow I love their educational mission, and the online stuff? Is good.