Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams • 2013

Category: 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.

You might also like

Small is Beautiful

Planet Earth shrinks to half size causing altitude sickness and a cosmic disaster, the sun gets as small as a sun can be, turning Earth into a frozen mud ball. We also see what happens to a man who shrinks to the same size as a wasp.

2/2Size Matters • 2019 • Physics


James May rapidly and easily explains all you need to know about speed.

S2E4James May's Things You Need to Know • 2012 • Physics

Stuff: A Horizon Guide to Materials

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.

Horizon • 2012 • Physics

Infinite Rainbows

They've captured our imagination and are a source of childlike wonder, but what exactly are rainbows? Learn the science behind these weather phenomenon and how one day they might help pinpoint habitable planets in deep space.

2018 • Physics

Einstein's brilliant mistake: Entangled states

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.


How to Become a Superhero

Imagine turning yourself into a crime fighting super hero just like Batman or Iron man. Dr Michio Kaku designs a suit that would give the wearer the super powers of a comic book super hero. Take that bad guys!

S1E10Physics of the Impossible • 2009 • Physics