Wonders of Life

Series 1 - 4. Size Matters

Size Matters
Radio Times
Review by:
David Butcher

Professor Brian Cox does a brave thing in this episode, breaking a TV taboo you mess with at your peril. He puts algebra up on screen. Formulae are a renowned TV turn-off, but Cox uses them sparingly to explain how the laws of physics limit what evolution is able to create, from microscopic wasps to great white sharks. He gets up close and personal with both, showing his courage isn’t limited to small-screen maths.

He also ranges across kangaroos, bats and robber crabs, and quotes JBS Haldane on the massive number of beetle species – about a quarter of all known life-forms: “It would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles.”

About this programme

4/5. Professor Brian Cox travels around Australia to explore how the size of a creature is connected to the forces acting on its environment. From the safety of a steel cage, he faces a great white shark and explains how the streamlined contours of this massive predator have been shaped by the physics of water. In Queensland's rainforests, he explains how insects and other smaller creatures can appear to defy gravity, using electrostatic force to scale vertical windows.

Cast and crew


Brian Cox


Paul Olding
Paul Olding
Series Producer
James Van der Pool