Science Britannica is a three part 2013 BBC documentary series which looks back at 350 years of British science history and discusses the contribution of British scientists to the modern world, the series is presented by popular television scientist Professor Brian Cox. We have all three episodes of the series available to watch here on Documentary Vine, details of each are provided below.
In the first episode Professor Cox explores the darker side of science, asking why science often gets such bad press when it does so much for us. He covers Frankenstein, the hanging and electrocution of George Foster whose was subsequently used in an experiment by an Italian scientist, and other gruesome stories. He asks whether British science has gone too far.
In the second episode Brian Cox celebrates the pivotal role that British scientists played in creating modern day science, from Isaac Newton’s light experiment to making hydrogen explosions. He also meets with a surviving wartime code breaker who played an important role in helping allied forces to win the second world war. Cox leads us through 300 years of British science history and discusses various visionary characters who changed the world on the way.
Cox ends his homage to British science by exploring the way that discoveries are made, often by complete accident, e.g. scientists worked out how to fight bacterial infection due to being curious as to why the sky was blue. Cox asks whether this is the way to go on, whether scientists should be free to discover things by pure experiment or whether there should be more control over what scientists look for but at the possible expense of the occasional lucky discovery.