/sci/ Wiki


  • Absolute Zero - 1 The Conquest Of Cold [IMDB, TDF] - Chronicles the major discoveries leading towards the mastery of cold, beginning with King James I's court alchemist, Cornelius Drebbel, who managed to air condition the largest interior space in the British Isles in 1620. Other stories will include the first "natural philosopher," Robert Boyle, a founder of the Royal Society in Great Britain; the Grand Duke Ferdinand II de Medici's involvement in the creation of the first thermometer; the establishment of the laws of thermodynamics by three young scientists, Sadi Carnot, James Joule and William Thomson; and Michael Faraday's critical achievement in liquefying several other gases which set the stage for the commercial application of cold to refrigeration and air conditioning.
  • Absolute Zero - 2 The Race For Absolute Zero (2008) - Focuses on the fierce rivalry that took place in the laboratories in Britain, Holland, France and Poland as they sought the ultimate extreme of cold. The program will follow the extraordinary discoveries of superconductivity and superfluidity and the attempt to produce a new form of matter that Albert Einstein predicted would exist within a few billionths of degrees above absolute zero.
  • Chemistry: A Volatile History (2010) [Episodes: 1 Discovering the Elements, 2 The Order of the Elements, 3 The Power of the Elements] [TDF, Wikipedia] - Professor Al-Khalili uncovers tales of success and heartache in the story of chemists' battle to control and combine the elements, and build our modern world. He reveals the dramatic breakthroughs which harnessed their might to release almost unimaginable. In Part 1, Discovering the Elements, Al-Khalili tackles one of the greatest detective stories in the history of science, tracing the steps of the chemists who risked their lives to find and fight for the building blocks of our entire world. Part 2, The Order of the Elements, explores the 19th century chemists who set out to make sense of the elements, from working out their exact number to plotting them in one of the most intricate and brilliant intellectual organizational systems of all time: the periodic table. All throughout, bitter disputes and explosive experiments inflict fascinating chaos on this ultimate quest for order. Part 3, The Power of the Elements, uncovers the incredible passion and, often, heartache that went into chemists’ efforts to command the extreme forces of nature and combine elements to build the modern world. From last century’s dramatic breakthroughs to a riveting tour of modern-day alchemy across some of the world’s best chemistry labs, Al-Khalili’s story not only offers an illuminating history of this fundamental science, but also re-instills a profound awe for the complexity and whimsy of our world. Warning: Al-Khalili is a Dawkins-tier new atheist and uses any excuse to go off on a cringe worthy 'enlightenment' rant.
  • Oppenheimer (1980) [Episodes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] [IMDB, Review] - This is television drama of the very highest order. The period detail is stunning and the casting is near-perfect. The 7 episodes follow Oppenheimer from his Berkeley days to Los Alamos where the bomb was built and tested, to Princeton and Washington, where he held court after the War, as the director of the Institute of Advanced Studies (where he was Einstein's boss) and a consultant to the AEC as the nation's premier advisor on atomic energy, through the beginning of his exile following the stripping of his security clearance. The drama is especially good on both the deliberations of the Interim committee, which discussed the possible uses of the bomb once it was to be finished, as well as the Security Hearing which led to the stripping of Oppenheimer's clearance. Notable performances are given by both Sam Waterston, as Oppenheimer, and Manning Redwood as Groves. David Suchet is also memorable as Edward Teller.
  • Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity (2011) [Episodes: 1 Spark, 2 The Age of Invention, 3 Revelations and Revolutions] [ Wikipedia ] - In the first episode, Al-Khalili tells the story of the very first scientists - people like Francis Hauksbee, Stephen Grey and Benjamin Franklin - who started to unlock the mysteries of electricity. As science developed new and ingenious ways to produce electricity were devised. But there was still one major problem. There seemed to be no way to capture and store the electricity. A bitter and rival battle between Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta led to one of mankind's most useful inventions, the battery. In the second episode, Professor Jim covers the scientists who discovered the links between electricity and magnetism leading to a way to generate electric power- Hans Christian Oersted, Michael Faraday, William Sturgeon and Joseph Henry. The development of commercial applications started with Samuel Morse and Al-Khalili then tells the story of the 1866 transatlantic cable. He revisits the War of Currents rivalry between Thomas Edison's DC and Nikola Tesla's AC, championed by George Westinghouse. In the final episode Al-Khalili brings the story up to date covering the achievements of James Clerk Maxwell; Heinrich Hertz; Oliver Lodge; Jagadish Bose; William Crookes; Mataré & Welker; and William Shockley. Warning: Al-Khalili is a Dawkins-tier new atheist and uses any excuse to go off on a cringe worthy 'enlightenment' rant.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: The Emergence of Greek Mathematics (1988) [part 1, 2] - Euclid’s Elements is one of the most reprinted books of all time. How did it come about and why does it remain a classic textbook? Starting with the concept of ‘proof’, which was a relatively new one in the third century BC, this film looks at each of the thirteen books in detail. It shows how this classic text has been passed down to us and how historians were able to recreate the original text from later, amended editions.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: Vernacular Tradition [part 1, 2] - The rediscovery of Greek learning during the Renaissance overshadowed the emergence in that era of works dealing with practical mathematics in commerce and everyday life, written in local languages. This second program concentrates on these studies, and the Hindu and Arabic analyses that influenced them. This documentary covers the development of the vernacular tradition of algebra, focusing on numeral systems and notation.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: Marin Mersenne - The Birth of Modern Geometry (1988) [part 1, 2] - Marin Mersenne, Marin Mersennus (September 8, 1588 - September 1, 1648), French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist, often referred to as the 'father of acoustics'. - Marin Mersenne was a French monk of the seventeenth century. He sought to break the wall of secrecy behind which scholars were hiding themselves and their discoveries. This film shows how he encouraged co-operation between scientists and how he managed to break through the silence and publicize Descartes’ development of co-ordinate geometry.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: The Birth of the Calculus (1986) [part 1, 2] - Two men independently discovered and formulated methods for the Calculus, Newton in England and Leibniz in Paris. In this 25 minute programme, Jeremy Gray visits first Cambridge, to trace Newton's lines of thought through his notebooks, then Hanover, where Leibniz's original notes are stored to trace his very different approach to the same problem. This BBC Open University series profiles the development of mathematical thought from Euclid to the middle of the 19th century. This fourth program examines the discovery of calculus, made independently by both Isaac Newton and Godfrey Wilhelm Leibniz in the 17th century. How, with the discovery of calculus, mathematics received its greatest boost since the time of the ancient Greeks. Narrated by Jeremy Gray.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: The Liberation of Algebra (1987) [part 1, 2] - In Ireland during the 19th century, the fundamental work of Hamilton and Boole freed algebra from its dependency on arithmetic. Filmed entirely in Ireland, this programme looks at the work of William Rowan Hamilton in Dublin and George Boole in Cork. From Hamilton’s discovery of quaternions to Boole’s ‘The Laws of Thought’, Graham Flegg reviews the developments of their work in the field of astrophysics and computer design.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: Non-Euclidean Geometry History (1988) [part 1, 2] - During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries mathematicians were increasingly questioning the foundations of geometry. This programme shows how these investigations led to the formation of non-Euclidean geometry.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: The Founding Of The Royal Society (1988) [part 1, 2] - Describes the various scientific groups which began to form in seventeenth century England; at Gresham college, London in 1645 and in Oxford, 1657 culminating in the founding of the Royal Society in 1660. Looks at the problems addressed by the Society, particularly the calculation of longitude at sea which led to the foundation of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Ends with a discussion of Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica’, 1687. Of interest to all those interested in the history of philosophy of science or the social history of the seventeenth century.
  • Topics in the History of Mathematics: Paris and the New Mathematics (1988) [part 1, 2] - Centering on the life of one of France’s greatest revolutionary mathematicians, Gaspard Monge, this programme shows how he founded the Ecole Polytechnique, originally to train military engineers. It was there that the post revolutionary mathematicians trained and did their research. Looks at the library of the present day Ecole Polytechnique and the early nineteenth century books and papers which chronicle this period of French educational reform.
  • BBC Horizon - Fermat's Last Theorem [IMDB ] - This documentary gives the history behind Fermat's Last Theorem, as well as Andrew Wiles account of his quest to prove it.


  • The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb [IMDB] - "I have become death," declared nuclear scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer upon first witnessing the terrible power of the atomic bomb. The Oscar-nominated documentary The Day After Trinity uses newsreel footage and recently declassified government film to trace the growth of the Manhattan project under Oppenheimer's guidance. The New Mexico A-bomb tests are shown, as are the aftermaths of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. The final scenes detail Oppenheimer's transformation from the "father of the A-bomb" to one of the most tireless opponents of nuclear power.
  • John Von Neumann: A Documentary (1966) - John von Neumann was the greatest polymath of the 20th century with many contribution to physics, mathematics, chemistry, economics, and the evolution of the computer. His work includes the creation of Game Theory, Quantum Mechanics, the development of nuclear power and the atomic bomb, and the very earliest computer programming. Von Neumann taught at Princeton University, was part of the group that built the A-bomb at Los Alamos, created numerical weather forecasting, had an extraordinary photographic memory, and was loved by his colleagues from every area of science. This documentary uses rare photographs and films to present a biography of John Von Neumann which includes lengthy dialogues with Nobel Prize winners as well as the 20th century's leading scientists including Edward Teller, Hans Bethe, Eugene Wigner, Paul Halmos, Herman Goldstine and Oskar Morgenstern and detailed descriptions and discussions of his contributions in various fields of science. This is second of the MAA video classics series, the first one George Polya in Teaching us a Lesson is also very good.

Demonstrations and Education[]

Alfred Leitner - Physics Demonstrations[]

Low Temperature Physics:

1: Superfluid Liquid Helium (Isotope 4) - (39 min., 1963)

2: Superconductors (of Type I) - (48 min., 1965)

Classical Optics:

3: Joseph Fraunhofer: Dispersion - (14 min., 1974)

4: Joseph Fraunhofer: Diffraction - (16 min., 1974)

5: Refraction, Dispersion and Resonance - (35 min., 1975)