Two-part documentary which deals with two of the deepest questions there are - what is everything, and what is nothing? In two episodes, Professor Jim Al-Khalili searches for an answer to ... See full summary »
Professor Jim Al-Khalili unwraps the evolutionary histories responsible for the modern human condition, as currently represented by our sophistication in energy manipulation and information technology.
Chaos theory has a bad name, conjuring up images of unpredictable weather, economic crashes and science gone wrong. But there is a fascinating and hidden side to Chaos, one that scientists ... See full summary »
Until recently, electricity was seen as a magical power. It could slay the living, revive the dead, and bend the laws of nature. It is now the lifeblood of the modern world, fueling our ... See full summary »
Professor Brian Cox visits some of the most dramatic parts of the globe to explain the fundamental principles that govern the laws of nature - light, gravity, energy, matter and time. With ... See full summary »
The deep sense we have of time passing from present to past may be nothing more than an illusion. How can our understanding of something so familiar be so wrong? In search of answers, Brian... See full summary »
Superb once again but this time ending with a big bang surprise
While Professor Jim Al-Khalili's series of scientific documentaries are highly acclaimed, I've not seen any analysis of what makes them so particularly good. What I have though noticed is that, apart from the great clarity, in dealing with historical subjects, he (somehow) manages to make both the significance and the surprise (at the time of the discoveries) fully present to the modern viewer. I guess that he has the ability - and perhaps the habit - to relive the prior state of ignorance, the curiosity and then the surprise at each new discovery.
And so science proceeds: humans make discoveries, acquire knowledge, discard old theories, move to a higher understanding then move on - in short: to progress. Science makes the world more knowable (and more controllable) and scientists take pride in making this so. But lurking in dark corners is a view that while science celebrates what it understands, it keeps away from what seems insoluble or unknowable, rather as a ship will be kept well clear of rocks for fear of being broken up on them, so also a fear that reputations for individuals - and subject - risk similarly being dashed.
Not so professor Al-Khalili, I noticed in an earlier programme dealing with quantum theory - some things just are, with the current state of knowledge, he makes clear, strange and inexplicable. 10-15? years ago astro-physics was confident in its understanding of the big bang - time and space simply did not exist beforehand, the universe was expanding rather as fragments from an explosion continue to fly through the air.
Viewers of part 2 of this series, unless abreast of recent scientific theories, will not be prepared for the surprising conclusion that leaves even the good professor himself in a deeply contemplative mood.
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