Customer Review

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonders of Life is indeed wonderful!, 28 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Wonders of Life [DVD] (DVD)
As a PhD student with a strong interest in evolution and development and a background in molecular biology, I thought that this was a really refreshing, informative and somewhat daring outing by the BBC. Sir David Attenborough has done the world a huge service over the past 60 years or so by bringing the wonders of the natural world into our living rooms, and in so doing, he has gradually introduced the concepts of evolution and natural selection, which have (and continue) to shape life as we see and enjoy it.

I personally view Wonders of Life as the next logical step and natural progression to this and I believe that the BBC (and of course Brian Cox) deserve full credit for taking this important step further in educating, while entertaining and inspiring us to view the natural world from a physicist's perspective; of course the age old saying, 'biology is nothing more than chemistry and physics with skin wrapped around it', would appear to very much apply in Brian's case!

This is a great series, very accessible and of course the BBC photography never fails to impress as always. My only (very minor) criticism would be perhaps more emphasis placed upon explaining (even in brief) the selective pressures, which have shaped many of the animals Brian uses as models for his discussions, into their current forms. Of course this series is all about how the natural (physical and chemical) forces in the universe have produced form and function, however, a minor deviation here and there to dip into the nuts and bolts of natural selection, might add a more complete dimension to the concepts Brian is trying to get across.

Nonetheless, a very enjoyable and highly enlightening series, so take note BBC producers and bring us more of the same!

Could the next `Attenborough' be a physicist? How odd, but then perhaps this is just natural selection in action...

For those eager to learn more about the concepts of evolution and development, I would recommend the two following books:

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom

From DNA to Diversity: Molecular Genetics and the Evolution of Animal Design
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Mar 2013 15:03:24 GMT
Biggis says:
Great review, even if I don't agree 100%. For the layman who wants to know more about the evidence for evolution, I can highly recommend both 'Why Evolution is True' by Jerry Coyne and 'The Greatest Show on Earth - The Evidence for Evolution' by a certain Mr. Dawkins. Contrary to what creationists would have us believe, the evidence in support of evolution and natural selection is overwhelming.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2014 16:53:23 GMT
I agree in principle, but of the two books Coyne's is better suited to the layman who has had little exposure to the evidence (overwhelming indeed) for evolution. Once the reader has internalized the basics of natural selection, he or she will be ready to tackle Dawkins' masterpiece, The Ancestor's Tale.

Dawkins is a superb writer, but in my opinion he lacks the ability of a Carl Sagan or an Isaac Asimov to address the reader who is making a first foray into scientific subjects.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2014 17:16:06 GMT
Biggis says:
I can't agree that Dawkins is a 'superb' writer. Personally, I find his style somewhat convoluted and quite tangential, which is certainly not good a good attribute when the aim is to render often highly complex information both digestible and engaging for a general audience.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2014 00:27:48 GMT
Well, we don't really disagree, do we? I find his more 'advanced' works, from The Selfish Gene to The Ancestor's Tale, eminently readable. You may not. But we seem to agree that he lacks the ability to write to the general reader.

Coyne did a much better job. I can imagine an open-minded evolution skeptic finding that Why Evolution Is True leads him to a better understanding. I can't imagine the same for The Greatest Show on Earth, no matter how open-minded the reader. I have no idea who Dawkins thought he was writing for.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2014 11:24:07 GMT
Biggis says:
Apologies. We do seem to be in agreement, which wasn't obvious to me when I read your post the first time around (though you certainly wouldn't agree with my review of 'The Selfish Gene'). I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds some of Dawkins' writing somewhat lacking in terms of accessibility for the general reader.
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