Engineer Jem Stansfield looks back through the Horizon archives to find out how scientists have come to understand and manipulate the materials that built the modern world. Whether it's uncovering new materials or finding fresh uses for those we've known about for centuries, each breakthrough offers a tantalising glimpse of the holy grail of materials science - a substance that's cheap to produce and has the potential to change our world. Jem explores how a series of extraordinary advances have done just that - from superconductors to the silicon revolution.
We float along the river of time. But does that river have a source? Where did time come from? Some believe time and space are one thing, and the Big Bang started the cosmic clock. Others believe the universe existed for almost half a million "years" before light could move and time began. Still others say time is older than our universe. But what if time itself is an illusion? Incredible new experiments may hold the answer. One groundbreaking experiment gives us the power to punch holes in time…and another may create a machine that operates outside time’s boundaries!
In the first episode, Helen seeks out the colours that turned planet Earth multicoloured. To investigate the essence of sunlight Helen travels to California to visit the largest solar telescope in the world. She discovers how the most vivid blue is formed from sulfur atoms deep within the Earth's crust and why the presence of red ochre is a key sign of life. In gold, she discovers why this most precious of metals shouldn't even exist on the surface of the planet and in white, Helen travels to one of the hottest places on Earth to explore the role salt and water played in shaping planet Earth.
What does quantum mechanics tell us about our world -- or are there many worlds due to probability waves? How does the general theory of relativity mesh with quantum mechanics? If you've wished you understood quantum mechanics (or at least grasped the basics) physicist Brian Greene can help!
Helen Czerski ventures beyond the visible spectrum in the final (and best) episode in this vibrant little series, showing how electromagnetic radiation is so much broader than the narrow slice of reality we see with our eyes. Before delving into the details of UV, infrared and x-rays, Dr Czerski explores colour subjectivity by trying on a dress that recently divided the internet — to some it appeared blue and black, to others white and gold. It's a perfect fit. It's also a neat analogy of how people can have opposing views but both swear blind that their perspective is correct. The series ends with some amazing imaging techniques that show our bodies in a whole new light.
Join Brian Greene on a wild ride into the weird realm of quantum physics, which governs the universe on the tiniest of scales. Greene brings quantum mechanics to life in a nightclub like no other, where objects pop in and out of existence, and things over here can affect others over there, instantaneously and without anything crossing the space between them.