From the Stone Age to the Silicon Age, materials have helped drive forward our civilisation. By manipulating materials we have been able to transform our world and our lives - and never more so than in the past century when we have discovered and designed more materials than at any other time in human history. (Part 3: Ceramic) Professor Mark Miodownik traces the story of ceramics. He looks at how we started with simple clay, sand and rock and changed them into pottery, glass and concrete - materials that would allow us to build cities, transform the way we view our world and communicate at the speed of light. Deep within their inner structure Mark discovers some of ceramics' most intriguing secrets. He reveals why glass can be utterly transparent, why concrete continues to harden for hundreds of years and how cooling ceramics could transform the way we power cities of the future.
Who was the genius who came up with all of that? The internet is such a crucial tool in our daily lives today that we hardly remember that it hasn't been here forever. But yeah, it is actually not that old.
This episode reveals the fascinating chain of events that made everyday miracles such as turning on a light or boiling a kettle possible. Michael Mosley, Professor Mark Miodownik and Dr Cassie Newland tell the amazing story of three of the most transformative inventions of all time: the steam engine, the electrical generator and the steam turbine. They explain how these inventions came about by sparks of inventive genius and steady, incremental improvements hammered out in British workshops.
58m • 2013 • The Genius of Invention
Ada Lovelace was a most unlikely computer pioneer. In this film, Dr Hannah Fry tells the story of Ada's remarkable life. Born in the early 19th century Ada was a countess of the realm, a scandalous socialite and an 'enchantress of numbers'. The film is an enthralling tale of how a life infused with brilliance, but blighted by illness and gambling addiction, helped give rise to the modern era of computing. Hannah traces Ada's unlikely union with the father of computers, Charles Babbage. Babbage designed the world's first steam-powered computers - most famously the analytical engine - but it was Ada who realised the full potential of these new machines. During her own lifetime Ada was most famous for being the daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron ('mad, bad and dangerous to know'). It was only with the advent of modern computing that Ada's understanding of their flexibility and power (that they could be far more than mere number crunchers) was recognised as truly visionary. Hannah explores how Ada's unique inheritance - poetic imagination and rational logic - made her the ideal prophet of the digital age. This moving, intelligent and beautiful film makes you realise we nearly had a Victorian computer revolution.
58m • 2015
What if aliens landed on Earth? Much of science fiction explores the moment of first contact – what will people do when the aliens land? From H. G. Wells’ pioneering The War of the Worlds to Independence Day, Men in Black, and District 9, Invasion deals with our fears of alien invasions of earth. David Tennant explains the appeal of Doctor Who’s Daleks and Cybermen while John Carpenter and Chris Carter explore the rich appeal of the paranoia fuelled by hidden aliens with The Thing and The X-Files. It also asks what if the monsters were our own creation? With the aid of rarely seen animation tests, Phil Tippett takes us behind the scenes in the creation of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. But not all invasions are hostile. Peter Coyote and Richard Dreyfuss discuss the creation of Spielberg’s spellbinding classics E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There is more than one kind of invasion.
42m • 2014 • The Real History of Science Fiction
Scientific advancements are challenging the concept of what it means to be human. Technology embedded in our bodies is fairly common: artificial limbs, pacemakers. But new research is taking us beyond replacement parts and into a new realm that is changing the nature of the human body and the human mind. Will the fusion of biology and technology change how we think, how we feel, how we experience the world?
43m • 2015 • Breakthrough