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Dr Hannah Fry travels down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's ideas on gravity. His discoveries revealed the movement of the planets was regular and predictable. James Clerk Maxwell unified the ideas of electricity and magnetism, and explained what light was. As if that wasn't enough, he also predicted the existence of radio waves. His tools of the trade were nothing more than pure mathematics. All strong evidence for maths being discovered.
But in the 19th century, maths is turned on its head when new types of geometry are invented. No longer is the kind of geometry we learned in school the final say on the subject. If maths is more like a game, albeit a complicated one, where we can change the rules, surely this points to maths being something we invent - a product of the human mind. To try and answer this question, Hannah travels to Halle in Germany on the trail of perhaps one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, Georg Cantor. He showed that infinity, far from being infinitely big, actually comes in different sizes, some bigger than others. This increasingly weird world is feeling more and more like something we've invented. But if that's the case, why is maths so uncannily good at predicting the world around us? Invented or discovered, this question just got a lot harder to answer.
Numbers as God
Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry explores the mystery of maths. It underpins so much of our modern world that it's hard to imagine life without its technological advances, but where exactly does maths come from? Is it invented like a language or is it something discovered and part of the fabric of the universe? It's a question that some of the most eminent mathematical minds have been wrestling with. To investigate this question, Hannah goes head first down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's law of gravity, she paraglides to understand where the theory of maths and its practice application collide, and she travels to infinity and beyond to discover that some infinities are bigger than others.
In this episode, Hannah goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks to find out why they were so fascinated by the connection between beautiful music and maths. The patterns our ancestors found in music are all around us, from the way a sunflower stores its seeds to the number of petals in a flower. Even the shapes of some of the smallest structures in nature, such as viruses, seem to follow the rules of maths. All strong evidence for maths being discovered. But there are those who claim maths is all in our heads and something we invented. To find out if this is true, Hannah has her brain scanned. It turns out there is a place in all our brains where we do maths, but that doesn't prove its invented.
Experiments with infants, who have never had a maths lesson in their lives, suggests we all come hardwired to do maths. Far from being a creation of the human mind, this is evidence for maths being something we discover. Then along comes the invention of zero to help make counting more convenient and the creation of imaginary numbers, and the balance is tilted in the direction of maths being something we invented. The question of whether maths is invented or discovered just got a whole lot more difficult to answer
Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali's strange crucifixion is often called the greatest religious painting of the 20th century. Yet its artist was a notorious blasphemer some of whose work had outraged the Catholic Church. The Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali is the first of two extraordinary crucifixions painted by Dali in the early 1950s. The painting is based on a 'cosmic dream' Dali is said to have had, in which the nucleus of the atom was a figure of Christ himself.
The painting offers a surrealist view of the crucifixion of Christ, and is based on a drawing by the 16th century Spanish friar Saint John of the Cross. But Dali's vision was somewhat unique, using an unusual artistic perspective in which Christ is seen from above. His Christ of St. John of The Cross was inspired by a weird mix of Spanish mysticism and nuclear physics, with his Christ being modelled by a Hollywood stuntman. It's also a masterpiece of painting technique.
The Private Life of a Masterpiece
The Truth Is in the Stars
Join the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, as he interviews renowned scientists and celebrities about the enduring influence of Star Trek on popular culture, innovation, and creativity. The film chronicles Shatner’s journey around the world interviewing scientists and film industry people about how Star Trek inspired them. Along the way he collects questions to ask and learns a bit about physics. Discover how Star Trek’s optimistic vision for the future has influenced leading minds including Prof. Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chris Hadfield, David Suzuki, and many more.
How to Build a Time Machine
Time travel is not forbidden by the laws of nature, but to build a time machine, we would need to understand more about those laws and how to subvert them than we do now. And every day, science does learn more. In this film Horizon meets the scientists working on the cutting edge of discovery - men and women who may discover how to build wormholes, manipulate entangled photons or build fully functioning time crystals. In short, these scientists may enable an engineer of the future to do what we have so far been only able to imagine - to build a machine that allows us travel back and forward in time at the touch of a button. It could be you! Science fiction? Watch this film.
Africa with David Attenborough
Life In Cold Blood
The Incredible Human Journey
History of the World
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