Through the Wormhole

The Science Channel debuted a new show last night, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, with the premier apparently designed by committee to piss off as many Internet types as possible. The overall theme was “Is there a creator?” and it featured physicist-turned-Anglican-priest John Polkinghorne talking about fine-tuning but no atheist rebuttal. It spent a good ten minutes on Garrett Lisi and his E8 theory, making it sound a whole lot more complete than it is. And it got this aggressively stupid review in the Times:

Oh, let’s face it: it was hard to concentrate on the first half of the first episode of “Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman,” the latest series exploring scientific mysteries in a no-doctorate-required way, which has its debut on Wednesday night on the Science Channel.

It’s not that the Oscar-winning Mr. Freeman is particularly worse than F. Murray Abraham, James Earl Jones and all those other actors who have lent their formidable voices to the cause of trying to make science programming compelling. It’s that this opening installment, which is supposed to be about whether there’s a Creator, almost immediately degenerates into theoretical yakking by scientists about unified theories of this and missing particles of that.

Especially with recent news coverage of that particle accelerator near Geneva, it seems as if we’d been hearing about this type of physics for a long time, and the discussion never does go anywhere or have much practical relevance. Anybody got a particle big enough to plug that busted oil pipe in the Gulf of Mexico?

(OK, that last paragraph is actually pretty accurate…)

The “Oooh, nasty physics hurts our brains, precious” slant of the review is the sort of thing that always pisses me off. Of course, it worked to the show’s advantage, because it was that review that brought the show to my attention, and got me to tune in last night (though I missed the opening few minutes), so I could write a blistering rant about how wrong the review was.

Problem is, I can’t. The tone of the piece was very, very dumb, but there’s a tiny element of a valid point at the heart of it.

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