Defining intelligence is not an easy task. The common belief among scientists and people in general is that in order for a being to have “intelligence” it has to have a brain, central nervous system, etc. But what if that criteria might not necessarily be accurate? That is the discussion at the base of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime. The hour-long NOVA episode was released on DVD Dec. 8. This recently premiered episode is a presentation that will appeal just as much to those with any interest in the biological sciences as evolutionary sciences. Its foundation is formed through its main feature, which will be discussed shortly. Considering how much is discussed in this episode in terms of theory and science, the program’s pacing turns out to be stable throughout. This aspect will be discussed a little later. The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime proves to be its own positive for this presentation, considering the episode’s content and pacing. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary. All things considered, they make NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime a presentation that should be anything but a secret.
PBS and PBS Distribution’s recently released DVD presentation of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining program that will appeal to students and lovers of the biological sciences just as much as those of the evolutionary sciences. That is proven in part through the program’s main feature. The feature in question examines how a slime mold called Physarum polycephalumdoes what it does. Audiences will be amazed as they watch the literally brainless organism find its way through mazes, make its way across salt bridges, and even “deciding” which sources of nutrients it “prefers.” Again, this is all done without a brain. What is ultimately discovered is that what is going on is that the slime mold is using what is known as bioelectricity and even a form of adaptation in order to accomplish everything. Bioelectricity is exactly what it sounds like. They are electric currents produced within living organisms that regulate organisms’ behaviors. The revelation is made through examinations of how plants react to their surroundings, which is itself also documented in this episode. Observing this ability of organisms that lack nervous systems or even brains to “make decisions” and react “intelligently” to given situations will leave many viewers’ minds blown. As is noted in the narration, it is collectively an example of the earliest form of sentience in Earth’s biological organisms. It is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences in itself.
While the content featured in NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime goes a long way toward making the program appealing, it is just one aspect of the episode that audiences will appreciate. The program’s pacing adds its own touch to the show’s interest. As noted, a lot of ground is covered in this hour-long program. There is the examination of the slime mold’s ability to navigate mazes and to adapt to different situations (E.g. changing so as to deal with salt as it makes its way to a “food source” and even its ability to connect with other slime molds from other parts of the world in order to survive). There is also the examination of how plants spread out their roots in much the same way that the Physarum polycephalum spreads out its “veins” as well as that of how ants use pheromone trails in equally similar fashion to find food sources. Again, this is a lot of information. Considering how much ground is covered through all of this, it would have been easy for the program to get bogged down in itself. Thankfully, those behind the episode’s creation and assembly did not let that happen. From start to end, the discussions ensure viewers’ engagement and entertainment, presenting topics rarely if ever considered by audiences. The discussions remain mostly in layman’s terms, ensuring even more that noted engagement and entertainment. That presentation style plays a big role in the program’s pacing if not the episode’s biggest role. Between that aspect and the ability of the topics to move so fluidly from one to the next, audiences will never feel lost within the program or even bogged down. The result is that that the program moves easily from one point to the next, never losing viewers along the way. Keeping this in mind with the very content in the program’s main feature, the two elements collectively show even more why the documentary is such an appealing new presentation from PBS and PBS Distribution. It also plays its own collective importance in considering the DVD’s average price point.
The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime barely tops the $20 mark. This is determined by averaging prices listed through PBS’ online store, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. Walmart presents the least expensive listing, at $16.61 while Amazon and Best Buy are the mid-point price, at $17.99. PBS’ listing of $24.99 is actually the most expensive while Barnes & Noble Booksellers is just a step below that at $22.49. Looking at these listings, viewers have at least three retailers from which to choose that are below the noted average price point. The noted listings will not break audiences’ bank accounts. The more expensive listings will not hurt viewers’ checkbooks either, even being a bit more pricey. Regardless of which outlet consumers choose, audiences will still get their money’s worth while also bringing in more money for PBS, the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming. When this is considered along with the pacing of this program and the content presented in its main feature, the whole of the program proves itself well worth the watch among students and lovers of the biological and evolutionary sciences. NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is available now.
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