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The Genius Of Britain [DVD]


Price: £6.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, James Dyson, Robert Winston
  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Channel 4
  • DVD Release Date: 7 Jun. 2010
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002SKM7XS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,944 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

In Channel 4's The Genius of Britain, Richard Dawkins, James Dyson, Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough and Robert Winston celebrate the great thinkers and moments in British science, from Newton to the present day. The five, who co-present each programme, are joined by Jim Al-Khalili, Kathy Sykes and Olivia Judson, among others.

Britain's great inventors and scientists have led the world and been at the forefront of some of history's greatest advances. From the steam engine to the world wide web, from the theory of evolution to the discovery of the atom, British science and ingenuity have helped shape the modern world.

The Genius of Britain
tells the stories of the people behind these pivotal moments, of the men and women who overcame all obstacles in search of scientific advancement. Their tales range from accounts of pure genius, when the apple fell and the secrets of the universe were unlocked, to dark tales of obsession, deception and even bodysnatching. Tackling the areas closest to their hearts and using hands-on demonstrations, the five co-presenters tell the human stories behind the scientific and engineering discoveries that we so often take for granted.

Programme 1 – The First Five
The first programme begins three hundred and fifty years ago when a small group of friends, colleagues and rivals defied everything that was known about the world at that time.

 

Stephen Hawking and Jim Al-Khalili explain how Isaac Newton saw mathematics at the root of everything, from gravity to light.  

James Dyson demonstrates Robert Boyle’s air pump, which revealed the life-giving invisible world around us, whose laws could be understood through experiment and reason.

David Attenborough celebrates the many interests of Christopher Wren, best known as an architect, but equally fascinated by surgery and astronomy.

 Richard Dawkins explores Robert Hooke’s revelatory microscopic world, and champions the virtues of a scientist whose name was almost wiped from the history books by men who despised him – most notably arch-rival Newton.

 

And Kathy Sykes charts Edmond Halley’s exploration of the stars, which helped Britain’s sailors to rule the waves.



Programme 2 – A Roomful of Brilliant Minds

The second programme in the series looks at the scientific spark that ignited the Industrial Revolution in Britain. 

 

James Dyson tells the story of how a young James Watt was inspired to perfect the steam engine that would change the world forever. 

 

Jim Al-Khalili explains how Joseph Priestley, a clergyman with an fascination for gases, discovered the very air we breathe and started a craze for soda water.

 

David Attenborough talks about his hero Joseph Banks, the great naturalist who sailed to the South Seas and founded Kew Gardens on his return.

 

And Robert Winston reveals the extraordinary story of John Hunter - surgeon, anatomist… and body-snatcher.



Programme 3 – Turning On The Lights

The third programme in the series looks at the scientific titans of the nineteenth century, whose drive and ambitions created the railways, discovered electricity and devised one of the most explosive ideas ever – evolution.

 

James Dyson looks at the life of Michael Faraday, the impoverished son of a blacksmith who became obsessed with electricity and gave us energy at the flick of a switch.

 

Kathy Sykes explores the many achievements of Lord Kelvin, who amassed over seventy patents, wrote the laws of thermodynamics and was responsible for the first transatlantic telegraph cable.

 

Richard Dawkins talks about a great neglected hero of his, Alfred Russel Wallace - the man who nearly pipped Darwin to the theory of evolution.

 

And James Dyson explores the life and vast accomplishments of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

                 

Programme 4 – Out Of The Darkness

The fourth programme in the series looks at how war can brings with it innovation as well as horror. It tells the story of some of the scientists and engineers who helped Britain win the Second World War – and how we have enjoyed the benefits of their discoveries to this day.

 

Richard Dawkins reveals his admiration for Alan Turing, the man who pioneered modern computing science as a by-product of his work deciphering the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park.

 

James Dyson celebrates the work of engineer Frank Whittle, who came from nowhere to invent the jet engine – and experiences the incredible power for himself in an RAF jet.

 

Jim Al-Khalili reveals how, without the discovery of radar by Robert Watson-Watt, the Battle of Britain would certainly have been lost.

 

Kathy Sykes explains how Paul Dirac tried to combine the seemingly incompatible worlds of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics – and helped to pave the way for modern electronics.

 

And Paul Nurse tells the true story of Alexander Fleming, whose discovery of penicillin went on to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of fighting men, as well as millions since.



Programme 5 - The Secrets of Life

The final programme in the series looks at the incredible discoveries of the last fifty years and reveals where some of the greatest minds of our time think we are heading.

 

Richard Dawkins and Olivia Judson reveal the controversial true story of how Rosalind Franklin’s work in crystallography helped Watson and Crick to discover the double-helix structure of DNA - and the wealth of knowledge now gathered about the human genetic blueprint as a result.

 

Jim Al-Khalili charts the career of astronomer Fred Hoyle, who helped to popularise science, worked out that we are all made of star-dust and, ironically, coined the term ‘Big Bang’ for a theory he rejected.

 

James Dyson explores a revolutionary new discovery – carbon nanotubes – which, as well as being the toughest material known to man and 50,000 thinner than a human hair, offer potential applications from cheap and super-efficient solar power to building a ‘space elevator ‘.

 

To end the series, Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins ask each other the questions they really want answered: Is there life on other planets? Why are you so obsessed with God? And all our scientists explain just why they think science now is more important than ever.

 

 

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 4 Jun. 2010
Format: DVD
This Channel 4 series works really well on DVD because it's not plagued by the hideous advert breaks which utterly disrupt it on TV. Each 45 minute episode is hosted by one of the big names of modern science, with other popular presenters (Paul Nurse, Jim Al-Khalili, Kathy Sykes and Olivia Judson) developing the programme's theme.
The first episode looks at the life and works of the Royal Society, 350 years ago, when Halley, Wren and Newton gave us far more than 'just' a comet, St Pauls and falling apples. In later programmes, Richard Dawkins reveals the other chap (not Darwin!) who discovered evolution, but who receives very little of the credit. Dyson expounds upon one of my favourite heroes, IK Brunel, and later explores nanotechnology. And the DVD ends with Dawkins and Hawking discussing their core beliefs about life on other planets and the nature (or not!) of God.

As well as incorporating many of the basic principles of science, this series also contains many fascinating factoids which are just delicious to know. Like... The Monument near Bank is really a telescope. The Big Bang theory was originally rejected as being too weird to be true. And so on.
Unlike many of the BBC's current science series (which I've been watching and have largely enjoyed), this series is rather less of a travelogue. So the photography is a bit more restrained and the presenters tend to be pictured in London, at Cambridge and in Oxford and across the UK, where the scientists being featured did their work.
Genius Of Britain is like many 'magazine' programmes in that it aims to cram a lot into a short time and so is inevitably superficial in places.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rearda on 11 Oct. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Successful modern, media-savvy scientists front this series of programmes about the British scientists throughout history who have made discoveries that altered the course of human history.

The presentation is good and the resource would be a valuable educational tool, except for one thing ... there is no product information on or in the packaging that would make it easy to find the programme you want without opening and playing the actual DVD. I had to resort to printing out the programme descriptions given in the Amazon product information as it is not repeated inside the case. In fact, if you didn't know which scientists were being covered in this DVD, you wouldn't find out by reading the case sleeve or DVDs and there is no product leaflet - a peculiar oversight!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By cmgethins on 18 April 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Very interesting and great for secondary school science. Its a great introduction to the different scientists and their discoveries. Hit with high achieving students.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carlo C. on 20 Oct. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I did expect a bit more from the DVDs. I hadn't seen the series but coming from who it does I expected it to be be high quality, which it was. Only that usually I could expect more, and this time was just good. Firstly no extras, in a DVD this sort, there could have been a tiny bit fo extras, there are always cut outs and things that had to be left out due time.. On the other hand it covers a bit of everything, and in quite an interesting manner. If I had to buy it again, I probably would, but only because of its contents, nothing spectacular about it. Maybe if it had been a tad bit longer and included some more information or experiments, even maybe reconstructions, would have been great.

If in doubt Recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris on 30 Aug. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Extremely interesting and watchable. Depth, eloquence, history, interest. You will watch it and want to know more. Probably most successful serving as an educational introduction to further reading, viewing, research.
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By Viv on 22 Jan. 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Very well presented and very informative. Should be in any school and university library. My students love it. Unfortunately there is no accompanying information, not even a leaflet that tells you the contents..
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By maisie on 2 Oct. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Genius of Britain is fantastic...the history of science made exciting, gripping, dramatic, engrossing. A visual stunner, it is also erudite and presented by knowledgeable people, such as David Attenborough.

A wonderful documentary.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John on 6 July 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This DVD was thoroughly enjoyable. I recommend this to everyone.

As a bonus, what the cover doesn't mention is that Jim Al-Khalili (English Theoretical Physicist) is also a narrator which I feel enhances the product as he tells as good a story. He did the series on Science and Islam which unfortunately doesn't seem to be available on DVD yet.

On a final not and on a seriously thought, WHY ISN'T THIS ON BLURAY?!
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