After exploring the birth of the scientific revolution as it took place in England, and tracing the consequences of that revolution as they manifested in and helped fuel the industrial revolution, today's episode of this fascinating documentary series explores the men behind some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the 19th century.
First up is the all-too-likable Michael Faraday, that man of humble origins who would rise to scientific fame through his ingenuity and the precision and creativity of his experiments, especially those he conducted on electromagnetism. Without his contributions, the world would be literally dark at night, so he's kind of a big deal.
Richard Dawkins recounts the story of a great neglected hero of his: Alfred Russel Wallace, the man who thought up the theory of evolution through natural selection independently of Darwin, and who would consequently stimulate the latter to finally publish all the work he'd kept secret for about twenty years. Like Faraday, Wallace also turned out to be a super nice guy... unlike that other British dick embroiled in a priority dispute over the invention of the calculus: Newton :)
The next two men in our story dreamed of developing faster communication between Europe and America through what would become the Transatlantic cable. William Thomson (mainly famous for his work on thermodynamics) would develop the theory and the engineering required to produce a workable cable, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel would develop the theory of fluid motion that would then allow him to create the ship capable of carrying and laying said cable. Brunel did not live to see his dream realized, but when the mission finally succeeded, Thomson became Lord Kelvin.
Finally, Jim Al-Khalili introduces the incredible and curious genius of James Clerk Maxwell, arguably the man whose intellectual contributions were the most important contributing factor for inspiring Einstein to develop his theory of special relativity.
If the book of Genesis had said this:
or even "wash your hands," I'd totally be a believer :)