Forget oil, coal and gas - a new set of materials is shaping our world and they're so bizarre they may as well be alien technology. In the first BBC documentary to be filmed entirely on smartphones, materials scientist Prof Mark Miodownik reveals the super elements that underpin our high-tech world. We have become utterly dependent on them, but they are rare and they're already running out. The stuff that makes our smartphones work could be gone in a decade and our ability to feed the world depends mostly on a mineral found in just one country. Mark reveals the magical properties of these extraordinary materials and finds out what we can do to save them.
2017 • Physics
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.
From Terminator to Star Wars, no sci fi movie is complete without an intelligent robot! Theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku reveals how artificial intelligence will be created and how smart robots could threaten us all.
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
Richard Feynman was one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists and original thinkers of the 20th century. He rebuilt the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and it was for this work that he won the Nobel Prize in 1965. In 1981, he gave Horizon a candid interview, talking about many things close to his heart.
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.