Duration: 43 minutes
First broadcast: Monday 10 February 2014
BBC Blurb: Tom Sutcliffe looks at the role of the expert. The curator Irving Finkel decodes the symbols on a 4,000 year old clay tablet and discovers the instructions for the building of an ark. Harry Collins asks why attitudes towards scientific expertise have changed and looks to reassert the special status of science. Colin Blakemore is an expert in neuroscience and vision and he reflects on his part in the documentary, Tim’s Vermeer, which explores the relationship between art and science. The playwright Hattie Naylor tells the story of an astronomer going blind who learns to see the wonder of the universe in a different way.
Producer: Katy Hickman
‘ Irving Finkel is the curator from central casting. Battered clothes, bushy white beard, little circular glasses, boundless enthusiasm. From a distance he looks about 100, but as he sprints across the British Museum’s Great Court to offer the warmest of handshakes – he is 10 minutes late for our meeting – you realise he is much younger. In reality, he is 62 going on 12, since a lifetime spent examining the clay tablets of ancient Mesopotamia has left him seemingly unaffected by the cares of the workaday world. ‘