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The Science Detectives

Another fine script from the makers of Mrs. Fermat’s Lost Theorem and Darwin’s Dustbin: The Shocking Secrets His Household Rubbish Revealed

John Lowell 31 March 2005

Lowell, hiding from his television set



script # SD/234/1a


The Science Detectives…


Female presenter in Lycra track suit holding pocket calculator & mobile phone rushes through "lab" with persons looking down 19th century brass microscopes, past background of Cape Kennedy shuttle launch and into chemical laboratory with 18th century glass retorts, virulent bubbling green/purple liquids.


This week on The Science Detectives we are looking into an age-old problem – why do the sun and the moon stay up there orbiting the earth? Why don't they fall down or just go away? This dilemma has puzzled the greatest scientific minds of all time. This week we bring together DARREN, a Star Trek fan, and CHERYL, an astrological consultant, to see if they can crack the problem.


The oldest theory goes all the way back to Aristotle. He believed the sun and the moon were held in CRYSTAL SPHERES…
[CUT to immense glass sphere carrying glowing sun & moon, not to scale]
But we now know from our spaceships…
[CUT to Saturn 5 Rocket launch]
that this theory must be wrong. If a spaceship passed through one of these crystal spheres it would probably shatter…
[CUT to immense glass sphere with impacting rocket. Sphere shatters. VERY LOUD breaking glass noises. Switch to slow motion, scattering glass fragments, sound continues. Hold 45 seconds]


So we flew out to Houston Texas to gather data.
[CUT to American Astronaut sequence; caption: Senator Chuck Weinberger, ex Apollo Astronaut]


Did you see anything up there like a crystal sphere, Chuck?


Well, I can tell you Cheryl, I was mighty humbled to be up there. I felt I was in the presence of God Almighty. But I guess we didn't see anything like that.


To confirm Chuck’s findings, we flew to Moscow to consult the famous Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Splatchnikov
[cut to Splatchnikov in military regalia speaking in very emphatic Russian with sweeping gestures; caption: Colonel Y. K. Splatchnikov, ex-cosmonaut>]
[Fade out Russian speech, fade in translation]

TRANSLATOR VOICEOVER (in Russian accent):

There are no such crystal spheres.

{Producer’s note: a complete translation should be avoided. YKS's remarks about Channel X are gratuitously insulting and his comments about "people who think the sun orbits the earth" will merely confuse the viewers}


So the crystal sphere theory held by so many famous scientists is WRONG!
[CUT to repeat of shot of shattering crystal sphere-slow motion – hold 2 minutes]


To get to the bottom of this puzzle we have flown out with Cheryl and Darren to this apple orchard in Southern Italy
[CUT to orchard sequence, picnic, wine bottles, animated conversation (inaudible) with gestures]


Wait a minute! Did you see that? An apple fell out of that tree!
[dramatic music; slow motion shot of falling apple]This means there must be some sort of FORCE!


A force – a gravitational force!


Yes – and wait a minute – suppose the force stretched all the way to the moon!Could that solve the problem?


To check on her theory, Cheryl must now do some abstruse calculations…
[CUT to images of Cheryl scratching head, blowing wisps of hair out of eyes, staring into computer screen, scribbling copious mathematics on paper (speeding up to very fast pace at the end)]

{Producer’s note – use that Tensor Calculus maths stuff from the Einstein program, it looks really good}


(Throwing down pencil): Got it! Its the INVERSE SQUARE!
[CUT to large red-painted plywood square on studio floor. Enter four men in white coats, who turn it over]


Cheryl has found that an inverse square law of gravity can explain the path of the moon and the sun around the earth. The crystal sphere theory is finally laid to rest!

[CUT to slow motion shattering of glass globe. Hold 2 minutes.]

And we now have Cheryl’s alternative GRAVITY model.

[CUT to orbiting plaster model of moon with depressions, calyx and stalk to represent apple]


How about you, Darren: do you go along with Cheryl’s new idea?


That gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to matter so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum without the mediation of anything else by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another is to me so great an absurdity that I believe no man who has in philosophic matters a competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into it.

{producers note : scratch man, substitute person. For God’s sake, how many times to I have to tell you people?}

Roll Credits
Theme music


So that's it, a good idea but no 100% consensus. Next week on The Science Detectives, a dog owner and a bird watcher try their hand at elucidating the mystery of the ORIGIN OF SPECIES!