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.
2013 • Physics
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.
2013 • Physics
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?
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.
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.
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.
Where Am I? Is a new documentary about the skills we use to find our way around. Whether you are an Inuit hunter, a foraging insect, or just someone out for a stroll, your brain is performing one of its most fundamental services – it’s navigating. Why are some of us good at finding our way, while others are not? Good navigators are able to use both memory and imagination…remembering where they have been, and imagining where they’re going. Some researchers believe we build a cognitive or mental map when we navigate, a kind of bird’s eye view of our surroundings, a view that can be rotated and examined in our mind. There has been about sixty years of argument amongst scientists about whether humans and other mammals actually form these cognitive maps or not. The advent of GPS or Global Positioning Systems has changed the discussion about navigation. GPS triggers a simpler, more automatic navigational technique that does not involve building a mental map. With GPS, we simply respond to directions and may not truly understand where we are.