Sunday, April 21, 2013

If you watched MTV back when they showed music videos instead of instructional programs on how to be a punk-ass loser, you probably saw the video for "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby. It turns out the old scientist in the video was played by a guy who was actually a scientist. Not only is he in the video, but much of the song consists of him yelling "Science!!"

The scientist was Magnus Pyke, who was apparently a sort of Carl Sagan of food science in Britain, doing TV shows and documentaries and whatnot. In fact, he was voted third-most famous scientist after Newton and Einstein in a British poll in 1975. I know nothing of him but his Wikipedia article, which links to this obituary, but had he come on the scene ten years earlier he surely would have been satirized by Monty Python much as they did Richard Attenborough.

The video opens with Thomas Dolby checking in to the "Home for Deranged Scientists" and it ends when Dolby "rejects Science and things Scientific." Going by his Wikipedia article, Pyke often wrote of bad effects of science and technology on society, saying they deformed the mind into a state where activities were judged solely in terms of their economic value. He said, "This way of thinking has so deranged [there's that word!] our minds that we have come to accept that only when we are actually carrying out paid industrial work are we serving our purpose on earth."

Things get even weirder when you read up on Magnus's cousin, Geoffrey Pyke. If Magnus was eccentric, Geoffrey was a full-blown mad scientist. During WW II he came up with a plan to build a half-mile-long aircraft carrier...out of ice...and the plan was approved by Churchill and only canceled when people realized ice is not a very good structural material. Then there was his scheme of landing troops during an amphibious invasion by doping them up on barbiturates and shooting them through pipes. Then there was the time he used disguised golfers to spy on the Nazis by...well, this is just too easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment