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The Empire of Reason

   2017    History
Al-Khalili travels to northern Syria to discover how, a thousand years ago, the great astronomer and mathematician Al-Biruni estimated the size of the earth to within a few hundred miles of the correct figure. He discovers how medieval Islamic scholars helped turn the magical and occult practice of alchemy into modern chemistry. In Cairo, he tells the story of the extraordinary physicist Ibn al-Haytham, who helped establish the modern science of optics and proved one of the most fundamental principles in physics - that light travels in straight lines. Prof Al-Khalili argues that these scholars are among the first people to insist that all scientific theories are backed up by careful experimental observation, bringing a rigour to science that didn't really exist before.
Series: Science and Islam

What is the World Made of

   2010    History
In this episode, Michael demonstrates how our society is built on our search to find the answer to what makes up everything in the material world. This is a story that moves from the secret labs of the alchemists and their search for gold by the stone of the philosophers to the creation of the world's first synthetic dye - Purple - and onto the invention of the transistor. This quest may seem abstract and highly theoretical. Yet it has delivered the greatest impact on humanity. By trying to answer this question, scientists have created theories from elements to atoms, and the strange concepts of quantum physics that underpin our modern, technological world.
Series: The Story of Science

Cooked: Earth

   2016    Culture
All cooking is transformation, and in that sense, it's miraculous, it's alchemy. But of all the different transformations we call cooking, fermentation is the most miraculous and the most mysterious. And that's because it doesn't involve any applied heat at all. Discover how microbes help turn raw ingredients into delicacies like chocolate and cheese as Pollan tackles the mysterious process of fermentation.
Series: Cooked

Edison

   2015    History
By the time he died in 1931, Thomas Alva Edison was one of the most famous men in the world. The holder of more patents than any other inventor in history, Edison had achieved glory as the genius behind such revolutionary inventions as sound recording, motion pictures, and electric light. Edison's curiosity led him to its cutting edge. With just three months of formal schooling, he took on one seemingly impossible technical challenge after another, and through intuition, persistence, and a unique team approach to innovation, invariably solved it." Driven and intensely competitive, Edison was often neglectful in his private life and could be ruthless in business. Challenged by competition in the industry he'd founded, Edison launched an ugly propaganda campaign against his rivals, and used his credibility as an electrical expert to help ensure that high-voltage electrocution became a form of capital punishment. Edison explores the complex alchemy that accounts for the enduring celebrity of America's most famous inventor, offering new perspectives on the man and his milieu, and illuminating not only the true nature of invention, but its role in turn-of-the-century America's rush into the future.

Chemistry: Discovering the Elements

   2010    Science
Just 92 elements made up the world, but the belief that were only four - earth, fire, air and water - persisted until the 19th Century. Professor Al-Khalili retraces the footsteps of the alchemists who first began to question the notion of the elements in their search for the secret of everlasting life.He reveals the red herrings and rivalries which dogged scientific progress, and explores how new approaches to splitting matter brought us both remarkable elements and the new science of chemistry.
Series: Chemistry
Frozen Planet
Frozen Planet

   2011    Nature
Dirty Money
Dirty Money

   2018    Culture
Eden: Untamed Planet
Eden: Untamed Planet

   2021    Nature
Triumph of Life
Triumph of Life

   2006    Nature
Order and Disorder
Order and Disorder

   2012    Science
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art