bbc four

bbc four

Light the Universe and Everything(Light Fantastic) ep4

3d ago
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Description

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. The final episode explores the relationship between light, the eye and the mind and the development of technologies such as photography and cinema. The achievements of John Dalton; Benjamin Thompson; Thomas Young; Lord Rayleigh; Joseph Priestley; Thomas Wedgwood; Eadweard Muybridge; Etienne Jules Marey and Albert Einstein are discussed. From their knowledge of colour blindness, some Victorian scientists believed they could prove the perceived cultural supremacy of the English by measuring differences of colour perception in different races. The idea was that animals were lower down the evolutionary scale but had better atuned senses than humans. If it could be proved that black people had better responses to light and colour this would be evidence of their inferiority. In 1898 William Rivers, together with a group of Cambridge academics, set off for the Torres Straits to prove exactly this. Rivers used a tintometer but found his original hypothesis was false and that the range of "colour difference perception" of the islanders was little different from that of the English. When Rivers returned to England he spearheaded dissemination of the fact that there was no scientific evidence to support white supremacy. The programme continues and describes Priestley's discovery of photosynthesis.