Just outside Paris, inside a hi-tech vault, and encased in three vacuum-sealed bell jars, rests a small metallic cylinder about the diameter of a golf ball. It may not look like much, but it is one of the most important objects on the planet. It affects nearly every aspect of our lives including the food we eat, the cars we drive, even the medicines we take. It is the kilogramme, the base unit of mass in the International System of Units. This small hunk of metal is the object against which all others are measured. Yet over time, its mass has mysteriously eroded by the weight of an eyelash. A change that, unbeknownst to most, unleashed a crisis with potentially dire consequences. Follows the ensuing high-stakes, two-year race to redefine the weight of the world, and tells the story of one of the most important objects on the planet.
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.?
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.
Outnumbering atoms a billion to one, neutrinos are the universe's most common yet most elusive and baffling particle. NOVA joins an international team of neutrino hunters whose discoveries may change our understanding of how the universe works.
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.
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.
1/3 • From Ice to Fire: The Incredible Science of Temperature • 2018 • Physics