Series 1 - Episode 1 Light



Here's something to excite science buffs: a new Jim Al-Khalili doc. Tonight, the professor explores how light, that most inscrutable of phenomena, has helped to illuminate our understanding of the universe.

A broadly chronological trip takes us from Euclid to big bang theory, via Newton's pivotal spectrum-splitting prism experiment. Newton's dazzling revelations eventually led to the realisation that the light we see is just a tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, paving the way for spectroscopy, radio telescopes and a deeper picture of the cosmos.

As always with Professor Al-Khalili, this is a classy and hugely absorbing watch, although there are some surprising omissions. Herschel's discovery of infrared radiation isn't mentioned, nor is, weirdly, Einstein's special relativity.


The first of a two-part documentary in which Professor Jim Al-Khalili examines how some of history's greatest minds began to uncover the secrets of the universe by using and manipulating light. In the first edition, the presenter considers the significance of Greek mathematician Euclid's landmark discovery that light moves in straight lines. He then moves on to Renaissance Italy, where Galileo Galilei unlocked the potential of telescopes in locating Earth's true place within the cosmos, before assessing the implications of Danish astronomer Ole Roemer's groundbreaking finding - that light moves at a finite speed.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Jim Al-Khalili
Director Stephen Cooter
Executive Producer Jonathan Renouf
Producer Stephen Cooter