Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dark Matters: Twisted But True

I've been feeling pretty sympatico with Sisyphus lately. If you don't remember your Greek myths, King Sisyphus was super clever, but murderous and conceited. He believed he was more clever than Zeus himself, going so far as to betray one of Zeus' secrets to another god. He kept evading punishment by the gods, which led to him being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down the other side and have to repeat the process forever.

It's felt like a metaphor for my life in general, but also for my Netflix queue. It's a never-ending parade of movies, TV shows and documentaries that I don't seem to make any real progress on. 

Over the weekend I finally got to a show called "Dark Matters," something I added while browsing without knowing much about it. According to the summary: "Dark Matters tells dramatized stories of science on the dark and ragged edge of human understanding, where experiments can be ethically controversial and the results can be mind-blowing." It's hosted by John Noble from FRINGE, an on-the-nose choice if I ever saw one.

After watching the entire first season (only six episodes) I can't say enough about this show. It's engaging, educational, and entertaining. If you're like me, this is the best way to learn about science and history. I was always terrible at it in school, I think because I don't memorize facts well. Stories are different. If it's a visual story? Even better. If it doesn't engage my imagination, it just won't stick. And if it's weird to boot? Bingo!

The dramatizations are ridiculous, but they're always ridiculous, no matter what show you're watching. The stories they choose to tell are fascinating, though; plus they balance out the conspiracy-theory, supernatural phenomena, impossible science side of each one with information from actual scientists, historians, neuroscientists, even magicians. It did run on the Science Channel, after all. And some of the stories are absolutely true, though surprising or little known to the public.

Of course, with the sketchy tales they always bring it back to: Was it this totally logical, scientific explanation that our experts agree is what probably happened? Or was it the crazy explanation?

And I enthusiastically endorse the crazy one, because I think it's funny.

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