Ricky Gervais on His Children's Book 'Flanimals'
Ricky Gervais is an English comedian, author, actor, director, producer, screenwriter and former pop musician. He achieved mainstream fame with his television series The Office and the subsequent series Extras, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with friend and collaborator, Stephen Merchant. Besides writing and directing the shows, Gervais also played the lead roles of David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. Gervais has also appeared in several Hollywood films, including For Your Consideration, Stardust, Night at the Museum and Ghost Town.
Question: Why is Flanimals so popular?
Gervais: Well, I’d like to say that it was… it was different and inflame children’s imaginations. But the honest truth is, the success of it was due to… it was written by the blog of the tele, you know. I didn’t write it after, I wrote it years ago. But… You know, finally it got a publishing deal and sold a million. It was certainly due to my profiling in celebrity firstly. But then, it’s whether it sticks around or not and, you know, catches on, which hopefully it’s done… The film’s in development with the guy who did… the guys who did “The Simpsons Movie” so it seems to be getting into the common consciousness a little bit, which is fun. But that was a labor of love. You know, I did those… I invented those creatures 25 years ago to make my nephew laugh. And I’ve always explored nature. It’s my first love of science and nature and… So… There’s a few themes going on there. Obviously, I’m deconstructing evolution. And the thing about the natural world and the animal kingdom is the… there’s nothing stranger than real animals. There’s nothing more remarkable than the difference between a bee and an elephant or, you know, pollination, you know. So you have to go into the realms of the surreal to get stranger than, you know, real things. I am… I talk about science. My new [toy] I’m working up is called Science and I say at one point… I’m talking about spiders and I said, “There’s 37,000 different species of spider, 37,000 different species.” I mean, there are millions, billions of each species, trillions… Just the tonnage of spiders in this world is ridiculous. And I say, “That’s just… that’s just one class of arthropod.” And I go, “Which makes me think this book isn’t completely accurate.” And I bring out the children’s book of Noah and I start reading it and deconstructing Noah’s ark. I was talking to Karl Pilkington, the guy I did the audio books with, and I was saying to him, you know, “Of course, it can’t be true.” Of course, it can’t be true. How could they get… There might be 4 million species of animal for all we know. I said, “How do they get all on one boat?” He said, “It was a big boat.” I went, “Oh yeah. Okay, it… Okay, even if the boat was big enough, why didn’t all the animals attack, why didn’t the lions eat the antelope, why…” He went, “‘Cause he always pull together in a crisis.” The man’s a [fool].
The comedian explains the inspiration behind the series on bizarre animals.
Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."
- Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
- This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
- On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.
- NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
- The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
- A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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