EP1/3 Genius of Britain


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The First Five

Some of Britain’s great scientists and inventors have literally created the modern world, from the invention of the steam engine, computers and the world-wide web, to the discovery of the theory of evolution and the atom.

The first programme begins 350 years ago when a small group of friends, colleagues and rivals defied everything that was known about the world at that time.

Stephen Hawking and Jim Al-Khalili explain how Isaac Newton saw mathematics at the root of everything, from gravity to light. James Dyson demonstrates Robert Boyle’s air pump, which revealed the life-giving invisible world around us, whose laws could be understood through experiment and reason.

David Attenborough celebrates the many interests of Christopher Wren, who was best known as an architect, but was equally fascinated by surgery and astronomy. Richard Dawkins explores Robert Hooke’s revelatory microscopic world, and champions the virtues of a scientist whose name was almost wiped from the history books by men who despised him: most notably his arch-rival Newton. And Kathy Sykes charts Edmond Halley’s exploration of the stars, which helped Britain’s sailors to rule the waves.

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