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.
Deep underground in a vault beneath Paris lives the most important lump of metal in the world - Le Grand K. Created in the 19th century, it's the world's master kilogramme, the weight on which every other weight is based. But there is a problem with Le Grand K - it is losing weight. Professor Marcus du Sautoy explores the history of this strange object and the astonishing modern day race to replace it.
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.
One of the most significant scientific discoveries of the early 21st century is surely the Higgs boson, but the boson and the Higgs Field that allows for that magic particle are extremely difficult to grasp. Don Lincoln outlines an analogy (originally conceived by David Miller) that all of us can appreciate, starring a large dinner party, a raucous group of physicists, and Peter Higgs himself.
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!