Brixton bookworm's seven wonders

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The Independent Culture
It was a crazy idea but it just might have worked: a metaphysical version of Desert Island Discs. In Seven Wonders of the World (8pm BBC2) each week, a scientist discusses seven concepts that make the world interesting for them. The Beeb has even drafted in Sue Lawley to introduce each programme. Not that she hangs around to talk things through. If the subject under discussion is Mahler's Resurrection then Sue is in her element. But can you see her sounding off about the second law of thermodynamics?

Tonight one of the most influential scientists of his generation, the man who spawned the Gaia theory, James Lovelock, takes us through his wonders, including PCs, electricity, reading and human bravery. Unfortunately the whole thing is frustratingly bitty. Lovelock is a wonderfully idiosyncratic thinker and what he has to say is thought-provoking and refreshing. But ploughing through seven unconnected topics in half an hour doesn't allow time for ideas to develop; like eating hors d'oeuvres, after a while you need something to get your teeth into.

Lovelock's account of his childhood trips to Brixton library is particularly poignant. It was there that his interest in science was sparked off. In Brixton library today, it's a wonder if you can find an intact book on anything. It's frightening to think about how a budding Lovelock might fare in these enlightened days.

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