Dr Helen Czerksi explores the extraordinary science of heat. She reveals how heat is the hidden energy contained within matter, with the power to transform it from one state to another. Our ability to harness this fundamental law of science has led to some of humanity's greatest achievements, from the molten metals that enabled us to make tools, to the great engines of the Industrial Revolution powered by steam, to the searing heat of plasmas that offer almost unlimited power.
Physicist Dr Helen Czerski explores the narrow band of temperature that has led to life on Earth. She reveals how life began in a dramatic place where hot meets cold, and how every single living creature on Earth depends on temperature for its survival. She uncovers the extraordinary natural engineering that animals have evolved to keep their bodies at the right temperature. And she witnesses the remarkable surgery that's using temperature to push the human body to the very brink of life.
In episode one, Helen ventures to the bottom of the temperature scale, revealing how cold has shaped the world around us and why frozen doesn't mean what you might think. She meets the scientists pushing temperature to the very limits of cold, where the normal laws of physics break down and a new world of scientific possibility begins. The extraordinary behaviour of matter at temperatures close to absolute zero is driving the advance of technology, from superconductors to quantum computing.
Is String Theory the final solution for all of physic’s questions or an overhyped dead end?
Richard Feynman was one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists and original thinkers of the 20th century. He rebuilt the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and it was for this work that he won the Nobel Prize in 1965. In 1981, he gave Horizon a candid interview, talking about many things close to his heart.
Professor Simon Schaffer presents the amazing and untold story of automata - extraordinary clockwork machines designed hundreds of years ago to mimic and recreate life. The film brings the past to life in vivid detail as we see how and why these masterpieces were built. Travelling around Europe, Simon uncovers the history of these machines and shows us some of the most spectacular examples, from an entire working automaton city to a small boy who can be programmed to write and even a device that can play chess. All the machines Simon visits show a level of technical sophistication and ambition that still amazes today. As well as the automata, Simon explains in great detail the world in which they were made - the hardship of the workers who built them, their role in global trade and the industrial revolution and the eccentric designers who dreamt them up. Finally, Simon reveals that to us that these long-forgotten marriages of art and engineering are actually the ancestors of many of our most loved modern technologies, from recorded music to the cinema and much of the digital world.
2013 • Physics
In this extraordinary documentary we are going to witness very different kinds and situations of snowing: from howling blizzards to the gentlest and loveliest of weather events, from huge handkerchiefs quietly falling to the needle-sharp attack of hard, heavy grains. Snow - what is it really? How is it created - naturally and artificially? Thanks to CGI and new camera techniques we can actually see this process for the first time and listen to the incredible, inaudible music of snowfall, of myriads of tiny crystals touching and rolling and settling. Each snowflake is unique and bears more secrets than we could imagine. Did you know that different kinds of music influence the crystallization process and the shape of snowflakes? And have you ever imagined that we would be able to produce artificial snow that melts at 30 degrees Celsius? With this in mind: just let it snow!
2008 • Physics
Jim Al-Khalili investigates the amazing science of gravity, recreating groundbreaking experiments, including the moment when Galileo first worked out how to measure it. He investigates gravity waves, finds out from astronauts what it's like to live without gravity, sets out to find where in Britain gravity is weakest and so where we weigh the least, and helps design a smartphone app that volunteers use to demonstrate how gravity affects time and makes us age at slightly different rates.
2017 • Physics
Visiting a hidden location buried beneath the hills of Scotland, Helen experiences some of the most extreme acoustics in the world. Here she learns just how much information can be carried by sound. She discovers how sound has driven the evolution of truly incredible biological systems and complex relationships between creatures that exploit sound for hunting - and escaping from predators. Helen demonstrates how sound waves diffract (bend around objects) and in doing so help us sense danger and locate it. Helen explains how we are not limited to passively detecting sound waves; we can also use them to actively probe the world.
At the Palace of Westminster, Helen teams up with scientists from the University of Leicester to carry out state-of-the-art measurements using lasers to reveal how the most famous bell in the world - Big Ben - vibrates to create pressure waves in the air at particular frequencies. This is how Big Ben produces its distinct sound. It's the first time that these laser measurements have been done on Big Ben. At the summit of Stromboli, one of Europe's most active volcanoes, Helen and volcanologist Dr Jeffrey Johnson use a special microphone to record the extraordinary deep tone produced by the volcano as it explodes. Finally, at the University of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, Helen meets a scientist who has discovered evidence of sound waves in space, created by a giant black hole. These sounds are one million billion times lower than the limit of human hearing
Every starship needs armor to protect it from asteroids and enemy attack- Dr. Michio Kaku reveals how cutting edge science could be used to create force fields that might one day save our space craft from an alien onslaught.
Defying gravity and hurtling through space: the flying saucer is the ultimate science fiction vehicle. Using cutting-edge research and theoretical physics, Dr. Michio Kaku reveals how one day we could all be using the aliens' favorite mode of transport.
Hurtling across the galaxy in a starship powered by anti-matter isn't some sci fi writer's impossible dream, as Dr Michio Kaku proves when he reveals his blueprints for a spacecraft that can journey to the stars. Alpha Centaurii is nearer than you think.
The crosshairs are lined up, a death ray is fired and a planet is vaporized. Sci fi fantasy? Not according to Dr Michio Kaku, who draws up blueprints to show how a real death star might work. The technology could be here sooner than you think!
Meet Nikola Tesla, the genius engineer and tireless inventor whose technology revolutionized the electrical age of the 20th century. Although eclipsed in fame by Edison and Marconi, it was Tesla's vision that paved the way for today's wireless world. His fertile but undisciplined imagination was the source of his genius but also his downfall, as the image of Tesla as a "mad scientist" came to overshadow his reputation as a brilliant innovator.
This documentary presents the story of Nikola Tesla, the great scientist, visionary, and inventor who gave the world alternating current electricity, as well as being the father of radio. The film tells the story of this man's astonishing genius, his visions and inventions. Tesla's own scientific and autobiographical writings, as well as archival photographs and re-enactments are used to tell the story. A native of Austro-Hungary, Tesla came to America in 1884. Working first with Edison, the two inventors fell out over Edison's insistence on using direct current. Tesla took his alternating current vision to Westinghouse. His New York address was renowned for the bolts of lightning emanating from it, as Tesla worked to unlock the secrets of energy and electricity. His quest took him to Colorado. The film follows Tesla's exploits and eccentricities, which made him a darling of the press. Included is the well-known and touching story of his devotion to a certain white pigeon. Largely forgotten today in spite of the great debt the modern world owes him, the film pays tribute to this overlooked genius.
2007 • Physics
With exclusive behind-the-scenes access, Horizon follows the highs and lows of an extraordinary story in particle physics. In June 2015, teams at CERN started running the large hadron collider at the highest energy ever. Rumours quickly emerged that they were on the brink of a huge discovery. A mysterious bump in some data suggested a first glimpse of a brand new particle that could change our understanding of how the universe works. A new particle could hint at extra dimensions and help us understand the very beginning of the universe - but first the team has to find it. Horizon follows the scientists as they hunt for the elusive signals that would prove if there is a new particle or if it is just noise from their machine.
Over a single weekend in 1869, a young Russian chemistry professor named Dmitri Mendeleev invents the Periodic Table, bringing order to the growing gaggle of elements. But this sense of order is shattered when a Polish graduate student named Marie Sklodowska Curie discovers radioactivity, revealing that elements can change identities — and that atoms must have undiscovered parts inside them.
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.
Artist and writer Matt Collings takes the plunge into an alien world of equations. He asks top scientists to help him understand five of the most famous equations in science, talks to Stephen Hawking about his equation for black holes and comes face to face with a particle of anti-matter. Along the way he discovers why Newton was right about those falling apples and how to make sense of E=mc2. As he gets to grips with these equations he wonders whether the concept of artistic beauty has any relevance to the world of physics.
2010 • Physics
Professor Jim Al-Khalili discovers the intriguing story of how we discovered the rules that drive the universe. (Part 2: The Story of Information) Professor Jim Al-Khalili investigates one of the most important concepts in the world today - information. He discovers how we harnessed the power of symbols, everything from the first alphabet to the electric telegraph through to the modern digital age. But on this journey he learns that information isn't just about human communication, it's woven very profoundly into the fabric of reality.
Professor Jim Al-Khalili discovers the intriguing story of how we discovered the rules that drive the universe. (Part 1: The Story of Energy) Energy is vital to us all, but what exactly is energy? In attempting to answer this question Jim investigates a strange set of laws that link together everything from engines to humans to stars. It turns out that energy, so critical to daily existence, actually helps us make sense of the entire universe.
This two-part scientific detective tale tells the story of a remarkable group of pioneers who wanted to reach the ultimate extreme: absolute zero, a place so cold that the physical world as we know it doesn't exist, electricity flows without resistance, fluids defy gravity and the speed of light can be reduced to 38 miles per hour. Each film features a strange cast of eccentric characters, including: Clarence Birds Eye; Frederic 'Ice King' Tudor, who founded an empire harvesting ice; and James Dewar, who almost drove himself crazy by trying to liquefy hydrogen. Absolute zero became the Holy Grail of temperature physicists and is considered the gateway to many new technologies, such as nano-construction, neurological networks and quantum computing. The possibilities, it seems, are limitless. Part 2: Race for Absolute Zero Focuses on the fierce rivalry that took place in the laboratories in Britain, Holland, France and Poland as they sought the ultimate extreme of cold. The program will follow the extraordinary discoveries of superconductivity and superfluidity and the attempt to produce a new form of matter that Albert Einstein predicted would exist within a few billionths of degrees above absolute zero.
his two-part scientific detective tale tells the story of a remarkable group of pioneers who wanted to reach the ultimate extreme: absolute zero, a place so cold that the physical world as we know it doesn't exist, electricity flows without resistance, fluids defy gravity and the speed of light can be reduced to 38 miles per hour. Each film features a strange cast of eccentric characters, including: Clarence Birds Eye; Frederic 'Ice King' Tudor, who founded an empire harvesting ice; and James Dewar, who almost drove himself crazy by trying to liquefy hydrogen. Absolute zero became the Holy Grail of temperature physicists and is considered the gateway to many new technologies, such as nano-construction, neurological networks and quantum computing. The possibilities, it seems, are limitless. Part 1: Conquest of Cold Chronicles the major discoveries leading towards the mastery of cold, beginning with King James I's court magician, Cornelius Drebbel, who managed to air condition the largest interior space in the British Isles in 1620. Other stories will include the first "natural philosopher," Robert Boyle, a founder of the Royal Society in Great Britain; the Grand Duke Ferdinand II de Medici's involvement in the creation of the first thermometer; the establishment of the laws of thermodynamics by three young scientists, Sadi Carnot, James Joule and William Thomson; and Michael Faraday's critical achievement in liquefying several other gases which set the stage for the commercial application of cold to refrigeration and air conditioning.
Horizon looks at dark energy - the mysterious force that is unexpectedly causing the universe's expansion to speed up. The effects of dark energy were discovered in 1998 but physicists still don't know what it is. Worse, its very existence calls into question Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity - the cornerstone of modern physics. The hunt for the identity of dark energy is on. Experiments on earth and in space generate data that might provide a clue, but there are also hopes that another Einstein might emerge - someone who can write a new theory explaining the mystery of the dark energy.
The story of an extraordinary scientific adventure - the attempt to control gravity. For centuries, the precise workings of gravity have confounded the greatest scientific minds, and the idea of controlling gravity has been seen as little more than a fanciful dream. Yet in the mid 1990s, UK defence manufacturer BAE Systems began a groundbreaking project code-named Greenglow, which set about turning science fiction into reality. On the other side of the Atlantic, Nasa was simultaneously running its own Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project. It was concerned with potential space applications of new physics, including concepts like 'faster-than-light travel' and 'warp drives'. Horizon explores science's long-standing obsession with the idea of gravity control. It looks at recent breakthroughs in the search for loopholes in conventional physics and examines how the groundwork carried out by Project Greenglow has helped change our understanding of the universe.
Professor Iain Stewart reveals the story behind the Scottish physicist who was Einstein's hero; James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell's discoveries not only inspired Einstein, but they helped shape our modern world - allowing the development of radio, TV, mobile phones and much more. Despite this, he is largely unknown in his native land of Scotland. On the 150th anniversary of Maxwell's great equations, scientist Iain Stewart sets out to change that, and to celebrate the life, work and legacy of the man dubbed 'Scotland's Forgotten Einstein'.
2015 • Physics
On November 25th, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: general relativity. The theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back to the origin of time itself. Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Discover the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory—and Einstein’s brilliance—as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory.”
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.
Early Earth was a canvas for the vast new palette of the colours of life, with the diversity of human skin tones telling the story of how humanity spread and ultimately conquered the planet. Dr Helen Czerski explores the true masters of colour - which are often the smallest and most elusive - travelling to the mountains of Tennessee to witness the colourful mating display of fireflies, and revealing the marine creatures that can change the colour of their skin in order to hide from the world.
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.
Ever since humans stood on two feet we have had the basic urge to go faster. But are there physical limits to how fast we can go? David Pogue wants to find out, and in "Making Stuff: Faster," he’ll investigate everything from electric muscle cars and the America’s cup sailboat to bicycles that smash speed records.
On May 16, 2011, Professor of Physics Emeritus Walter Lewin returned to MIT lecture hall 26-100 for a physics talk and book signing, complete with some of his most famous physics demonstrations to celebrate the publication of his new book For The Love Of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics, written with Warren Goldstein.
2014 • Physics
On July 4, 2012, scientists at the giant atom smashing facility at CERN announced the discovery of a subatomic particle that seems like a tantalizingly close match to the elusive Higgs Boson, thought to be responsible for giving all the stuff in the universe its mass. Since it was first proposed nearly fifty years ago, the Higgs has been the holy grail of particle physicists: in finding it they validate the “standard model” that underlies all of modern physics and open the door to new discoveries when CERN’s giant collider switches on at higher power in 2015.
Nuclear energy might have a lot of unused potential. Not only is it one of the best mid term solutions for global warming bit despite what gut feeling tells us, it has saved millions of lives. By investing more into better technologies we might be able to make nuclear energy finally save and clean forever.
Nuclear energy might be a failed experiment. In over sixty years the technology has not only failed to keep its promise of cheap, clean and safe energy, it also caused major catastrophes and enabled more nuclear weapons while the nuclear waste problem is still not solved.
Nuclear Energy is a controversial subject. The pro- and anti-nuclear lobbies fight furiously, and it's difficult to decide who is right. So we're trying to clear up the issue - in this video we discuss how we got to where we are today, as the basis for discussion.
Film telling the story of the greatest physicists of the 20th century and the discoveries they made, told in their own words. Men and women who transformed our understanding of the universe, from unlocking the secrets of the atom to solving the mysteries of the cosmos.
You've felt cold before. Sometimes it's cold outside. But what if I told you that "cold" isn't real? There's no substance or quantity called "cold" in science. We can't measure the amount of "cold" in something. Instead it's about what's NOT there.
Scientists genuinely don't know what most of our universe is made of. The atoms we're made from only make up four per cent. The rest is dark matter and dark energy (for 'dark', read 'don't know'). The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has been upgraded. When it's switched on in March 2015, its collisions will have twice the energy they did before. The hope is that scientists will discover the identity of dark matter in the debris. The stakes are high - because if dark matter fails to show itself, it might mean that physics itself needs a rethink.
When you think of Archimedes’ Eureka moment, you probably imagine a man in a bathtub, right? As it turns out, there's much more to the story. Armand D'Angour tells the story of Archimedes' biggest assignment -- an enormous floating palace commissioned by a king -- that helped him find Eureka.
Horizon travels to the South Pole to tell the inside story of the greatest scientific quest of our time. In March 2014, a team of astronomers stunned the scientific world when they announced that their BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole had possibly detected a signal of “gravitational waves” from the early universe. This is the inside story of the hunt for gravitational waves from the beginning of time.
In the summer of 1939 Albert Einstein was on holiday in a small resort town on the tip of Long Island. His peaceful summer, however, was about to be shattered by a visit from an old friend and colleague from his years in Berlin. The visitor was the physicist Leo Szilard. He had come to tell Einstein that he feared the Nazis could soon be in possession of a terrible new weapon and that something had to be done.
Light always travels at a speed of 299,792,458 meters per second. But if you're in motion too, you're going to perceive it as traveling even faster -- which isn't possible! In this second installment of a three-part series on space-time, CERN scientists Andrew Pontzen and Tom Whyntie use a space-time diagram to analyze the sometimes confounding motion of light.
Space is where things happen. Time is when things happen. And sometimes, in order to really look at the universe, you need to take those two concepts and mash them together. In this first lesson of a three-part series on space-time, hilarious hosts Andrew Pontzen and Tom Whyntie go through the basics of space and time individually, and use a flip book to illustrate how we can begin to look at them together.
There is something very strange happens in space – something that should not be possible. It’s as if large parts of the world are being ravaged by a huge and invisible celestial vacuum. Sasha Kaslinsky, the scientist who discovered the phenomenon, is understandably nervous: “We left very upset and nervous,” he says, “because this is not something we planned to find.”
Particle physicist Dr Brian Cox wants to know why the Universe is built the way it is. He believes the answers lie in the force of gravity. But Newton thought gravity was powered by God, and even Einstein failed to completely solve it. Heading out with his film crew on a road trip across the USA, Brian fires lasers at the moon in Texas, goes mad in the desert in Arizona, encounters the bending of space and time at a maximum security military base, tries to detect ripples in our reality in the swamps of Louisiana and searches for hidden dimensions just outside Chicago.
Isaac Newton - brilliant rational mathematician or master of the occult? This innovative biography reveals Newton as both a hermit and a tyrant, a heretic and an alchemist. Magical images mix with actors and experts to bring alive Britain's greatest scientific genius in his own words.
Time. We waste it, save it, kill it, make it. The world runs on it. Yet ask physicists what time actually is, and the answer might shock you: They have no idea. Even more surprising, the deep sense we have of time passing from present to past may be nothing more than an illusion. How can our understanding of something so familiar be so wrong?
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.
It's called the speed limit of the universe. Einstein blew all of our minds when he worked out the Theory of Relativity, and showed that space and time were malleable substances. He also theorized that we as humans can never travel faster than the speed of light, which leaves the stars and other galaxies almost impossibly out of our reach. But the dreams of Star Wars and Star Trek are not dead. In fact, there could be ways to travel faster than the speed of light - and some of them are already being tested in labs around the world.
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!
How do we know what matter is made of? The quest for the atom has been a long one, beginning 2,400 years ago with the work of a Greek philosopher and later continued by a Quaker and a few Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Theresa Doud details the history of atomic theory.?
Horizon plunges down the biggest rabbit-hole in history in search of the smallest thing in the Universe. It is a journey where things don't just become smaller but also a whole lot weirder. Scientists hope to catch a glimpse of miniature black holes, multiple dimensions and even parallel Universes.
The classical physics that we encounter in our everyday, macroscopic world is very different from the quantum physics that governs systems on a much smaller scale (like atoms).
When you think about Einstein and physics, E=mc^2 is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But one of his greatest contributions to the field actually came in the form of an odd philosophical footnote in a 1935 paper he co-wrote -- which ended up being wrong.
One of the most amazing facts in physics is that everything in the universe, from light to electrons to atoms, behaves like both a particle and a wave at the same time. But how did physicists arrive at this mind-boggling conclusion?
Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, posed this famous question: If you put a cat in a sealed box with a device that has a 50% chance of killing the cat in the next hour, what will be the state of the cat when that time is up?
One of the most significant scientific discoveries of the early 21st century is surely the Higgs boson, but the boson and the Higgs Field that allows for that magic particle are extremely difficult to grasp. Don Lincoln outlines an analogy (originally conceived by David Miller) that all of us can appreciate, starring a large dinner party, a raucous group of physicists, and Peter Higgs himself.
Just how small are atoms? And what's inside them? The answers turn out to be astounding, even for those who think they know. This fast-paced animation uses spectacular metaphors (imagine a blueberry the size of a football stadium!) to give a visceral sense of the building blocks that make our world.
Deep underground in a vault beneath Paris lives the most important lump of metal in the world - Le Grand K. Created in the 19th century, it's the world's master kilogramme, the weight on which every other weight is based. But there is a problem with Le Grand K - it is losing weight. Professor Marcus du Sautoy explores the history of this strange object and the astonishing modern day race to replace it.
Professor Marcus du Sautoy tells the story of the metre and the second - how an astonishing journey across revolutionary France gave birth to the metre, and how scientists today are continuing to redefine the measurement of time and length, with extraordinary results.
Adam Savage walks through two spectacular examples of profound scientific discoveries that came from simple, creative methods anyone could have followed -- Eratosthenes' calculation of the Earth's circumference around 200 BC and Hippolyte Fizeau's measurement of the speed of light in 1849.
2012 • Physics
When we look at the sky, we have a flat, two-dimensional view. So how do astronomers figure the distances of stars and galaxies from Earth? Yuan-Sen Ting shows us how trigonometric parallaxes, standard candles and more help us determine the distance of objects several billion light years away from Earth.