Colour: The Spectrum of Science

Colours of Earth

Series 1 - Episode 1 Colours of Earth



Why does the sky appear blue, salt white and gold gold? At a pristine lakeside observatory in California, physicist Dr Helen Czerski (from the Brian Cox school of presenting) begins her investigation into the forces that shaped our planet, using five colours as a palette with which to illustrate the tale.

So, we learn how an azure rock from Afghanistan is evidence of extreme pressures under the planet's surface, and how early meteorite impacts came bearing gifts of gold.

It's a novel approach, but be aware: this episode is more concerned with geology and astronomy than the physics behind the colours themselves, or the psychology of how they're perceived by the brain.


Dr Helen Czerski examines the complexities of colour, including what it is, how it works, and how it has written the story of the planet. In the first edition, she looks for the colours that have made the earth multi-coloured, investigating the essence of sunlight, how vivid blue is formed from sulphur atoms, and why the presence of red ochre is a key sign of life. She also looks at why gold should not even exist on the surface of the planet, and the role of salt and water in shaping planet earth.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Dr Helen Czerski
Executive Producer Jacqueline Smith
Series Producer Graeme Thomson