Series in which Professor Simon Schaffer explores man's fascination with light
Light Fantastic is the title of a television documentary series that explores the phenomenon of light and aired in December 2004 on BBC Four. The series comprised four programmes respectively titled: “Let There Be Light”; “The Light of Reason”; “The Stuff of Light”; and “Light, the Universe and Everything.”
The material was presented by Cambridge academic Simon Schaffer.
Let There Be Light Episode 1 of 4
Simon Schaffer’s series exploring man’s fascination with light begins by revealing the unwitting role religion played in our scientific understanding of light.
The Stuff of Light Episode 3 of 4
In tracing the journey from light bulb to atomic bomb, Simon Schaffer reveals how the quest to understand what light really is had disturbing consequences.
Light, the Universe and Everything Episode 4 of 4
Simon Schaffer investigates how puzzling studying light turned out to be and how it affected knowledge of science, art and the human mind.
Series in which Professor Simon Schaffer explores man’s fascination with light begins by revealing the unwitting role religion played in forging our scientific understanding of the properties of light.
He reveals the extraordinary lengths to which the early light pioneers went to unlock the mysteries of light. The Greek philosopher Empedocles marked his theory that light travels like laser beams from our eyes by throwing himself into the volcano Mount Etna.
The Roman Church’s obsession with Easter forced it to turn a blind eye to its own doctrines, as the religious authorities sanctioned the conversion of cathedrals into massive sun clocks, a move that would eventually drive the rabidly anti-Catholic Isaac Newton to unravel the true essence of light.
Simon Schaffer investigates just how puzzling studying light turned out to be and how it affected knowledge of science, art and the human mind. He looks at how the industrial revolution was the catalyst for new scientific investigations into colour, how Cambridge anthropological expeditions to the Torres Straits in the late 19th century revealed strange truths about human perception and how Einstein‘s revelations about light, the universe and everything would completely change our worldview.