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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.
Weirder and Weirder
Dr Hannah Fry explores a paradox at the heart of modern maths, discovered by Bertrand Russell, which undermines the very foundations of logic that all of maths is built on. These flaws suggest that maths isn't a true part of the universe but might just be a human language - fallible and imprecise. However, Hannah argues that Einstein's theoretical equations, such as E=mc2 and his theory of general relativity, are so good at predicting the universe that they must be reflecting some basic structure in it. This idea is supported by Kurt Godel, who proved that there are parts of maths that we have to take on faith.
Hannah then explores what maths can reveal about the fundamental building blocks of the universe - the subatomic, quantum world. The maths tells us that particles can exist in two states at once, and yet quantum physics is at the core of photosynthesis and therefore fundamental to most of life on earth - more evidence of discovering mathematical rules in nature. But if we accept that maths is part of the structure of the universe, there are two main problems: firstly, the two main theories that predict and describe the universe - quantum physics and general relativity - are actually incompatible; and secondly, most of the maths behind them suggests the likelihood of something even stranger - multiple universes.
We may just have to accept that the world really is weirder than we thought, and Hannah concludes that while we have invented the language of maths, the structure behind it all is something we discover. And beyond that, it is the debate about the origins of maths that has had the most profound consequences: it has truly transformed the human experience, giving us powerful new number systems and an understanding that now underpins the modern world.
Black Hole Apocalypse 1of2
2018 Science HD
Black holes are the most enigmatic and exotic objects in the universe. They’re also the most powerful; with gravity so strong it can trap light. And they’re destructive, swallowing entire planets, even giant stars. Anything that falls into them vanishes... gone forever. Now, astrophysicists are realizing that black holes may be essential to how our universe evolved—their influence possibly leading to life on Earth and, ultimately, us.
In this series, astrophysicist and author Janna Levin takes viewers on a journey to the frontiers of black hole science. Along the way, we meet leading astronomers and physicists on the verge of finding new answers to provocative questions about these shadowy monsters: Where do they come from? What’s inside? What happens if you fall into one? And what can they tell us about the nature of space, time, and gravity?
Black Hole Apocalypse
Black Hole Apocalypse 2of2
2018 Science HD
Of all the objects in the cosmos, planets, stars, galaxies, none are as strange, mysterious, or powerful as black holes. Black holes are the most mind-blowing things in the universe. They can swallow a star completely intact. Black holes have these powerful jets that just spew matter out.
First discovered on paper, on the back of an envelope, some squiggles of the pen. The bizarre solution to a seemingly unsolvable equation, a mathematical enigma. Einstein himself could not accept black holes as real. People didn't even believe for many years that they existed. Nature doesn't work that way. Yet slowly, as scientists investigate black holes by observing the effect they have on their surroundings, evidence begins to mount.
Black Hole Apocalypse
The Most Unknown
An epic documentary film in which nine scientists will meet in a chain of encounters to uncover unexpected answers to some of humanity's biggest questions. How did life begin? What is time? What is consciousness? How much do we really know? By introducing researchers from diverse backgrounds for the first time, then dropping them into new, immersive field work they previously hadn't tackled, the film reveals the true potential of interdisciplinary collaboration, pushing the boundaries of how science storytelling is approached.
What emerges is a deeply human trip to the foundations of discovery and a powerful reminder that the unanswered questions are the most crucial ones to pose. The Most Unknown is an ambitious look at a side of science.
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