This documentary presents the story of Nikola Tesla, the great scientist, visionary, and inventor who gave the world alternating current electricity, as well as being the father of radio. The film tells the story of this man's astonishing genius, his visions and inventions. Tesla's own scientific and autobiographical writings, as well as archival photographs and re-enactments are used to tell the story. A native of Austro-Hungary, Tesla came to America in 1884. Working first with Edison, the two inventors fell out over Edison's insistence on using direct current. Tesla took his alternating current vision to Westinghouse. His New York address was renowned for the bolts of lightning emanating from it, as Tesla worked to unlock the secrets of energy and electricity. His quest took him to Colorado. The film follows Tesla's exploits and eccentricities, which made him a darling of the press. Included is the well-known and touching story of his devotion to a certain white pigeon. Largely forgotten today in spite of the great debt the modern world owes him, the film pays tribute to this overlooked genius.
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.
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.
In the first episode, Helen seeks out the colours that turned planet Earth multicoloured. To investigate the essence of sunlight Helen travels to California to visit the largest solar telescope in the world. She discovers how the most vivid blue is formed from sulfur atoms deep within the Earth's crust and why the presence of red ochre is a key sign of life. In gold, she discovers why this most precious of metals shouldn't even exist on the surface of the planet and in white, Helen travels to one of the hottest places on Earth to explore the role salt and water played in shaping planet Earth.