Arriving at ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ too early – again – I sat outside, enjoying the sunshine, before wandering in to find the room with the drinks. Over the next half hour people trickled in and began to mingle, enjoying their drinks and nibbles. I had an opportunity to chat to the Director Stuart Monro who recognised me from earlier events.
Promptly at 7 o’clock we all moved into another room for the presentation. As Stuart described it, it would be one long reminiscence, his personal story. He started off by talking about his role model, David Attenborough, and then moved on to the purpose of ‘Our Dynamic Earth’; the things that he hopes will inspire, motivate, excite and stimulate children of all ages, from 9 months to 90 years.
Stuart talked about the Earth, the tectonic plates and their effects on the landscape. We travelled around the world, from the Himalayas to Iceland. From Tenerife to New Zealand and to Yellowstone. He discussed subduction zones and constructive plate margins and how the Himalayan mountains were formed.
Realising that he might have made us all slightly depressed with volcanoes and the end of the world, he showed us an entertaining clip of an antelope crashing into a tree next to a pair of lions, with ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ playing in the background.
Next, we were given a tour of the museum; where without children we could be the children. We travelled back in time, looked at fossils, underwater creatures, life in ice and even travelled around world in the 4D theatre. And to finish off the night we were given the option of watching ‘Astronaut’, a planetarium show about the risks and advantages of being an astronaut.
This was excellent, and you could tell just how passionate Stuart Monro is about his subject, and how much energy he has put into ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ to encourage others to see the great things about our Earth.
Arriving at the Informatics Forum over an hour early, I wasn’t expecting Iain Stewart to arrive just after me. As soon as he walked in, he was jumped on by a fan wanting to buy him a drink and ask a few questions.
So there Iain Stewart was, two metres away, giving an impromptu interview. I argued with myself on whether or not to try to talk to him as well, which was solved by Iain having to go and prepare the room for his presentation. So, no chat.
The rest of us were allowed into the room with a couple of minutes to spare and Iain was introduced by Stuart Monro, Director of ‘Our Dynamic Earth’. Stuart admitted to being a Geologist, as though he was admitting to something far worse!
Yet, between his ‘Geologist drunken moments’, he finds the time to watch television, except all he can find is either Iain Stewart or Brian Cox. In Stuart’s opinion, Iain is the goodlooking one. Looks aside, he described Iain as a Geologist who promotes his subject in such a way that it will change everyone’s lives, and we won’t ever be able to look at the landscape in the same way again.
This left Iain feeling a little pressured, or so he said. His two daughters have never watched his show or shown any interest, but when he took them to ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ they loved it, especially the tectonic plates section.
Before starting he mentioned his new series about ‘Plants’ – all about the green stuff covering this planet and its effects – that is about to start being filmed. Then he launched into his talk, with everything Geological, from the moment he started to feel like a Geologist up on Dun Caan on the Isle of Raasay to the ice ages that have shaped Scotland, from James Hutton, who first thought about the processes on Earth, to Lord Kelvin, who claimed Earth cannot be as old as Geologists said without another heat source.
He also talked about his latest series ‘Men of Rock’ – someone once suggested his next series should be called ‘Women in Rock’ – and about the factors that need to be considered when producing a TV show. You can’t just treat it like an extension of a lecture, aimed at people with a keen interest or who work in Geology. It must be aimed at a broader audience, and to entertain rather than teach.
So instead of just walking across a stream, Iain’s TV producers had him abseil across! Also the breathtaking moment where Iain almost had a large metal ball slam into his face. To prove loss of energy in a pendulum they did a demonstration of what happened when it slammed into a melon. As soon as the melon flew off the plinth in pieces, Iain jumped forwards, grabbed the fragments and started to describe how this could have been his head. And it almost was, as the ball came flying back towards him!
The event finished with questions ranging from education to current issues like Japan and New Zealand. After the event, people flocked to Iain with follow-up questions, providing a photo opportunity, and I managed to have my photo taken with Iain. That’ll be proof for my friends in Geology at college!
Excellent event, so if you have the opportunity to see Iain Stewart it is so worth the effort to go and listen.