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 »
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.
The history of mathematics from ancient times to the present day. Narrated by Oxford mathematics professor Marcus du Sautoy, the series covers the seminal moments and people in the development of maths.
Marcus du Sautoy,
It is one of humankind's greatest achievements. More than 12 billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our Solar System and entering the void of deep space - the first human-made object ever to do so.
A feature-length documentary about the history and future of nuclear power. The film explores how and why mankind's most feared and controversial technological discovery is now passionately... See full summary »
Two Republican congressman speak against funding for the construction of the Superconducting Super Colider in Texas. This gives the false impression that it was Republicans who ended the project. The 1993 Congress had Democrat majorities in both the House and the Senate. Additionally, the President at that time was a Democrat. The leader of the effort to end funding for the project in the House was Democrat Jim Slattery. Voting to end the funding was bipartisan. See more »
Although this is a documentary about the world's greatest scientific undertaking, there's no need for those who've abandoned hope of understanding physics or other advanced sciences to roll their eyes and move on. This one is less about the abstract principles and obscure questions motivating thousands of scientists and dozens of governments to collaborate on the massive European nuclear facility CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) than about the personal and human factors behind it.
The script offers some degree of Physics for Dummies (present company included), in trying to explain the basics of what we know about subatomic particles, and what proving there's such a thing as the Higgs boson could mean about the nature of existence. The so-called "God Particle" was posited as the reason atoms collect to form all matter, including life as we know it, in the universe. Supposedly, learning not only that it exists, but what it weighs could either support arguments for some sort of intelligent or symmetrical design, or a cosmic randomness that might pervade through innumerable parallel universes.
But before you doze off, remember this is mainly about the people behind the curtain. We learn about their dreams and motives. We even share in many of their lighter moments, along with the suspense of whether this massive undertaking would even work, what it would help us understand, and where any results might lead academic endeavors in multiple disciplines for generations to come. It's less scientifically informative, or slickly produced, than the new incarnation of Cosmos that's been running on several TV networks. But it's more intimate in showing relatable emotions among the brainiacs who've devoted years of their lives to this highly speculative venture.
Perhaps the best feature of the film is its clarity about the underlying difference between science and other human pursuits like religion or politics. Everyone at CERN was seeking objective, provable answers, even if they unraveled their own beliefs. And all were dedicated to the mission with absolutely no idea of what commercial uses, if any, their outcomes might engender. It's the purity of human curiosity at its finest. Learning for its own sake. No one at NASA expected the space race to leave us with Tang and other related products. Time will tell on the practical applications and cultural developments we'll receive from the labors of these scholars. For now, it's reassuring to know they've got a place to find the answers.
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