It's the wonder of Attenborough

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The Independent Online
The television naturalist Sir David Attenborough, acknowledged as a much-loved "household name" or even a "national institution", goes up by at least one division next month.

On 9 April, a BBC2 programme will allow Richard Dawkins, the controversial evolutionist, to make the case that Sir David, is actually one of the seven wonders of the modern world. A colossus of the small screen he is, Dawkins argues "a wonder himself".

"He has brought people out into the world to distant places and shown them things they could not have seen themselves."

In tones as reverent as those employed by Sir David in his favourite encounter with the gorillas, Dawkins says his hero has helped viewers understand the meaning of life. "It is immensely enriching to people lives, it is not just entertainment. It helps people before they die to know something of the wonders of the world into which they were fortunate enough to be born."

Dawkins' top seven wonders also include the ears of a bat (which clamp and unclamp up to 50 times a second so that the creature is not deafened by its own shrieking), the fingers of a pianist, the spider's web and the Hubble telescope.

All his nominations will be shown in the fourth episode of a new series of the Seven Wonders of the World which begins at 7pm on Wednesday.

In each half hour slot a different eminent scientist will put up their candidates for the title and the original ancient wonders are heavily out-weighed this time by striking natural phenomena such as the night sky, the reason people never run out of things to say and the now extinct Tasmanian tiger.

In the last programme the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke honours the giant squid, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor and a Sri Lankan rock fortress called Sigirya. He also makes a good case for the infinite mathematical beauty of the Mandelbort set, while natural history professor Aubrey Manning suggests that the enigma of the notional square root of minus one is worthy of inclusion.

Sir David is the only human nominated but the process of human reproduction also gets Dawkins' vote and Monica Grady, the Natural History Museum's meteorite specialist, chooses the moment she first heard the heartbeat of her unborn son.

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