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
Helen Czerski ventures beyond the visible spectrum in the final (and best) episode in this vibrant little series, showing how electromagnetic radiation is so much broader than the narrow slice of reality we see with our eyes. Before delving into the details of UV, infrared and x-rays, Dr Czerski explores colour subjectivity by trying on a dress that recently divided the internet — to some it appeared blue and black, to others white and gold. It's a perfect fit. It's also a neat analogy of how people can have opposing views but both swear blind that their perspective is correct. The series ends with some amazing imaging techniques that show our bodies in a whole new light.
The crosshairs are lined up, a death ray is fired and a planet is vaporized. Sci fi fantasy? Not according to Dr Michio Kaku, who draws up blueprints to show how a real death star might work. The technology could be here sooner than you think!
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.