Physicist Dr Helen Czerski takes us on an amazing journey into the science of bubbles. Bubbles may seem to be just fun toys, but they are also powerful tools that push back the boundaries of science. The soap bubble with its delicate, fragile skin tells us about how nature works on scales as large as solar system and as small as a single wavelength of light. Then there are underwater bubbles, which matter because they are part of the how the planet works. Out at sea, breaking waves generate huge plumes of bubbles which help the oceans breathe. From the way animals behave to the way drinks taste, Dr Czerski shows how bubbles affect our world in all sorts of unexpected ways. Whether it's the future of ship design or innovative new forms of medical treatment, bubbles play a vital role.
Saiful investigates how humans as living pulsing machines actually use energy, asking whether it's possible to 'supercharge' the human body and increase its performance. Live experiments explore everything from the explosive potential of everyday foods, to what we put into our bodies (and what comes out!), as well as how we measure up to the machines we use every day. Saiful even experiments on himself, showing images captured inside his own stomach. Every single one of us is an incredibly sophisticated energy conversion machine, finely tuned over millions of years of evolution. So will we ever be able to improve the human body's performance? Can we ever do more with less energy?
Comedian Jimmy Carr takes over Horizon for this one-off special programme, produced as part of BBC2's sitcom season. Jimmy turns venerable documentary strand Horizon into a chat show, with eminent laughter scientists as guests and a studio audience to use as guinea pigs. Jimmy and his guests try to get to the bottom of what laughter is, why we enjoy it so much and what, if anything, it has to do with comedy. Between them, and with the help of contributions from other scientists on film, Jimmy and guests discover that laughter is much older than our species, and may well have contributed to making us human. With professors Sophie Scott, Robin Dunbar and Peter McGraw.