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.”
Materials Science is set to define the next century of human history, and it promises to revolutionize every aspect of our lives. This film takes us on a journey where we meet the pioneers of Materials Science and see the extraordinary discoveries that are transforming the world around us.
2015 • Physics
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
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.
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.
Hannah starts her journey by asking whether everything could be bigger, finding out what life would be like on a bigger planet. As the Earth grows to outlandish proportions, gravity is the biggest challenge, and lying down becomes the new standing up. Flying in a Typhoon fighter jet with RAF flight lieutenant Mark Long, the programme discovers how higher G-force affects the human body, and how people could adapt to a high G-force world. But by the time Earth gets to the size of Jupiter, it's all over, as the moon would impact the planet and end life as we know it. Next, Hannah tries to make living things bigger. The programme examines the gigantopithecus, the biggest ape to ever exist, creates a dog the size of a dinosaur and meets Sultan Kosen, the world's tallest man. Humans are then super-sized with the help of Professor Dean Falk to see what a human body would look like if we were 15m tall. The sun gets expanded, and Professor Volker Bromm looks back in time to find the largest stars that ever existed, before the sun explodes in perhaps the biggest explosion since the big bang.