Materials Science is set to define the next century of human history, and it promises to revolutionize every aspect of our lives. This film takes us on a journey where we meet the pioneers of Materials Science and see the extraordinary discoveries that are transforming the world around us.
Particle physicist Dr Brian Cox wants to know why the Universe is built the way it is. He believes the answers lie in the force of gravity. But Newton thought gravity was powered by God, and even Einstein failed to completely solve it. Heading out with his film crew on a road trip across the USA, Brian fires lasers at the moon in Texas, goes mad in the desert in Arizona, encounters the bending of space and time at a maximum security military base, tries to detect ripples in our reality in the swamps of Louisiana and searches for hidden dimensions just outside Chicago.
Hannah is going the other way by asking whether everything could, in fact, be smaller. But going smaller turns out not to be much safer... First, we shrink the Earth to half its size - it starts well with lower gravity enabling us to do incredible acrobatics, but things gradually turn nasty as everyone gets altitude sickness - even at sea level. Then we visit Professor Daniel Lathrop's incredible laboratory, where he has built a model Earth that allows us to investigate the other effects of shrinking the planet to half size. The results aren't good - with a weaker magnetic field we would lose our atmosphere and eventually become a barren, lifeless rock like Mars. In our next thought experiment, we shrink people to find out what life is like if you are just 5mm tall. We find out why small creatures have superpowers that seem to defy the laws of physics, meet Jyoti Amge, the world's smallest woman, and with the help of Dr Diana Van Heemst and thousands of baseball players reveal why short people have longer lives. Lastly, the Sun gets as small as a sun can be. We visit the fusion reactor at the Joint European Torus to find out why stars have to be a minimum size or fusion won't happen. And if our Sun were that small? Plants would turn from green to black, and Earth would probably resemble a giant, frozen eyeball. Which all goes to show that size really does matter.
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.
Join Brian Greene on a wild ride into the weird realm of quantum physics, which governs the universe on the tiniest of scales. Greene brings quantum mechanics to life in a nightclub like no other, where objects pop in and out of existence, and things over here can affect others over there, instantaneously and without anything crossing the space between them.