Adam appears to perform miracles
Tuesday 06 May 2003
Harry Potter used a magic cloak. James Bond had a gadget in his car. But is it really possible to vanish into thin air? It's easy enough on the silver screen – but the presenter of a new Open University television series is seriously investigating if, without the aid of magic or camera trickery, he can truly disappear.
Adam Hart-Davis, who has been clearly visible to television audiences as the host of the BBC's What The Victorians Did For Us, promises another engaging, entertaining turn fronting Science Shack, the only show that poses all sorts of scientific challenges – then asks its viewers to email in the answers.
Thus readers at a loose end over the next few months might like to suggest how Mr Hart-Davis can achieve invisibility and other similarly straightforward, everyday feats. Such as walking on water. Or flying using a home-made pair of wings. Nothing too far-fetched, you understand.
Science Shack proved a huge hit last time round – in part because of its presenter. This is the man, after all, who in the previous series attempted to walk on a ceiling and deliberately tried to get struck by lightning "to see what would happen".
But the programme is as much about its team of experts and the viewers, who are enthusiastically invited to take part.
In this series, the presenter tries to walk on water, putting his particular brand of faith in hoverboots, floating canoe shoes and false feet based on those of the not uncoincidentally named Jesus lizard.
As far as we know, the Son of God achieved the trick without funny floating feet and a gaggle of crazy inventors trying to copy him. Our genial host challenges anyone with similar ambitions to race him across Lake Windermere. And so it came to pass that six like-minded eccentrics head for Cumbria to do just that.
As with everything else in the series, the results, which can be seen when the shows are aired this summer, are spectacular, hilarious and curiously informative – at least in as much as they reveal what sort of people are ingenious enough to do this. Ingenious and, in all probability, barking mad.
For more information and timings visit www.open2.NET/scienceshack.
* Leonardo Da Vinci missed out on formal education because of his illegitimate birth – but went on to excel as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, botanist, astronomer and philosopher.
A new OU short course explores the life and work of the Renaissance genius, coinciding with the recent BBC1/OU TV series, The Man Who Wanted To Know Everything, and supporting website activities on www.open2.NET. More details from www.open.ac.uk/courses or ring 01908 653231. A free set of postcards celebrating all three initiatives is available by calling 08700 100878.
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