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.
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.
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.
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.