The Story of Science: Power, Proof and Passion
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The Story of Science: Power, Proof and Passion

2010, Science  -   78 Comments
Ratings: 8.15/10 from 94 users.

The Story of ScienceFor thousands of years we have wrestled with the great questions of existence. Who are we? What is the world made of? How did we get here? The quest to answer these is the story of science.

Each week, medical journalist Michael Mosley traces the often unpredictable path we have taken. From recreating a famous alchemist’s experiment, to following in Galileo’s footsteps, and putting himself in the hands of a hypnotist, Michael unpicks how science has changed the way we see ourselves, and the way we see our world.

It is a tale of courage and of fear, of hope and disaster, of persistence and success. It interweaves great forces of history – revolutions, voyages of discovery and artistic movements – with practical, ingenious inventions and the dogged determination of experimenters and scientists.

This is the story of how history made science and how science made history, and how the ideas which emerged made the modern world.

1. What Is Out There? How we came to understand our planet was not at the center of everything in the cosmos.

2. What Is The World Made Of? How atomic theories and concepts of quantum physics underpin modern technology.

3. How Did We Get Here? Michael Mosley tells how scientists came to explain the diversity of life on earth.

4. Can We Have Unlimited Power? The story of how power has been harnessed from wind, steam and from inside the atom.

5. What is the Secret of Life? Michael Moseley tells the story of how the secret of life has been unraveled through the prism of the most complex organism known - the human body.

6. Who Are We? The twin sciences of brain anatomy and psychology have offered different visions of who we are. Now these sciences are coming together and in the process have revealed some surprising and uncomfortable truths about what really shapes our thoughts, feelings and desires.

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Jim Greenfield
9 years ago

he skipped many important issues and facts,a true member of the new mainstream media.

Jane Wacky
10 years ago

I did not agree with some content of Moseley's documentary "The Story of Science" as he made some monumental errors.

1. Totally ignored non-Western science and no mention at all of the Renaissance.

2. Perpetuated Descartes's myth with the phrase "Cogito, Ergo sum" thus, he could not be fooled.
Unfortunately "Ergo" is not completely defined, consequently Descartes can be fooled.

3. Perpetuated Turing's Test for artificial intelligence. Unfortunately neither science nor a computer
will ever be able to distinguish good from bad.

4. Perpetuated the myth that Science is/was the most important human endeavour.
Science is flawed at its core and cannot make humans happy except materialistically.

5. Unfortunately this documentary lacked depth and insight.

Gaia O'Dea
10 years ago

What I want to know is since it is said that the Mayans and ancient Egyptians and other similiar of the oldest cultures had a seemingly near perfect understanding of 'the heavens,' at least this is what so many documentaries suggest with their calendar and the pyramids and other early so called wonders, which supposedly as almost as precise as our 'modern' models based on the science of today. HOW can this be so, if as is also known and presented in this video, that the ancients 'knew' that the earth was the center of the cosmos and was stationary and everything revolved around our earth? How can they be so wrong, yet at the same time be able to be considered virtually as advanced in the area of astronomy with navigation, and how most all of the massive monuments and calendar were so accurate? Just a question that 'came' to me a few minutes ago.

Anthony Mustacich
10 years ago

This was good, but very eurocentric. It narrowly focused almost exclusively on the major scientific discoveries of the last 500 years and ignored the scientific discoveries of Africa and Asia, which formed the basis for Western Europe's scientific revolution. This series should be watched in conjunction with documentaries that show the history of science before Western Europe. Other than that, good.

10 years ago

I would suggests another source of science, which came to us much earlier than what has been explained here about the expansion of the universe and basically the whole content. The Qur'an explains all this facts close to 1500 years ago, thus much earlier than Kepler, Einstein or any one else even had the idea to think about the black wholes or the nature of the space.

10 years ago

What a well-made series.

10 years ago

I do see it there now....thanks :)

10 years ago

where is the documentary at? when i click, there is just a white space where the video should be...was it removed?

10 years ago

anyone know where I can see trancendant man?

10 years ago

anyone know where I can see trancendant man?

10 years ago

I have only just watched the "What is Out There", the first episode so far. As an astronomy teacher and lecturer for years, I found this very well done and would at least endorse this one episode wholeheartedly. I especially enjoyed the dramatic recreations of history in the beautiful and actual on site locations in Prague Czechoslovakia and Venice Italy. It makes me want to travel there now and continue my award winning astronomy art. - Mark Seibold, Portland Oregon

10 years ago

I cannot explain how deeply grateful I am to have access to this website. I read, and only watch the science channel, pbs, and occasionally a decent DOC ( which sadly is no longer the case) on national geographic or history on television. Now I can watch a plethora of DOCS (not saying all of them are the greatest) that coincides with my studies as well as it being interesting and thought provoking as a whole. Thank you topdocs, I'm so glad I found you! P.S. Great series =] for any science lover like myself.

10 years ago

great series in every way, cant believe i havent watched this one yet even though its been on the recommended list, a must for every science lover.

Love some of the old demonstrations/experiments/machines, they still dazzle and amaze today.
also cool that it started with the antikythera mechanism seeing that was the last doco i watched before this.

11 years ago

think i'll start on these tomorrow. can't wait!

11 years ago

worth it
uncovers the lost geniuses
glad i saw it

Sharad Kakkar
11 years ago

worth spending 6 hours?

11 years ago


I was taken a little aback with Wegener's (responsible for continental drift theory) fate (in episode 3).

When the narrator said that he died on an expedition and was buried under the ice, and started out "he died on expedition to greenland", and continued "Because of continental drift.. " I guess I was expecting something like that he got a posthumous prize, or was reburied in a prestigious cememtary..

When he said, instead, that "because of continental drift, his body is now 2 meters further from his homeland", well, I guess I got a perverse kick out of it.

Man.. I've got a sick sense of humor.


James Colwell
11 years ago

Jesus Arnie... don't need a review...

11 years ago

Overall a good series. Britain centric of course. Heaven forbid that other inventors like Nikola Tesla be introduced. If only Nikola Tesla had been British and not from in Smiljan, Croatia.

Editing was good. Story line was good. The narrator did a wonderful job. I wasn't too crazy about his pink shirt at first (or maybe its mauve) however as the series went on, I completely lost notice of it. Interesting because he wears it throught the whole series for color consistency.

No revolutionary ground breaking ideas just a good summation of science discoveries to date from a British centric perspective. And since this is a BBC program you really cannot knock them for that.

11 years ago

Episode 5 - What is life?

Here the BBC does a great documentary on the mechanics of the human body and the discoveries over time that revealed how the human body works. The title of this episode should be "What is the human body?"

Because when it comes to discussing "What is life?" the BBC is afraid to talk openly about the new discoveries that have been emerging over the past few years that clearly show that the human life has two distinct parts.

The first part is the biology and mechanics of the human body. Here the DNA sequence tweaked over the past 300 million years creates an incredibly complex biological machine. The human body is the hardware part of the human equation. It is born, reproduces itself, and then dies.

The second part of the human equation is the software / consciousness that runs the human body. This is the spirit part of the human body that makes us individuals. The spirit part of consciousness is fused with the human brain at the quantum level. This process happens after the brain has been developed and can occur before birth or shortly after birth.

The spirit in this case is NOT to be confused with religion. The spirit is a part of the life force that resides in a spirit dimension at the quantum level of the universe. This spirit dimension can be thought of as the accumulated life force and knowledge of the universe.

When people experience an NDE, Near Death Experience, there is a common story of their spirit essence leaving their body and heading back to the spiritual dimension. The person's spirit is aware of their body and the fact that it is no longer functioning.

What makes the NDE, Near Death Experience, unique is that the person's spirit is able to reenter and revive the brain bringing the body back to life. This seems to occur at the quantum level of the human brain. There is a fusion between the physical world and spiritual dimension at the quantum level.

Memories obtained in the physical world are able to be transferred and stored via pure energy in the quantum spiritual dimension. The life force of the universe.

Two documentaries that talk about NDE, Near Death Experiences.

BBC - The Day I Died (available at this site)

Life After Life - 6 true stories of NDE experiences (available at this site)

After a human dies the person's spirit leaves the biological body and returns to the spirit dimension = Life force of the universe and all accumulated knowledge.

After a period of time the person's spirit returns to the Earth to live in another human baby of its choice. Recent evidence suggests that spirit groups live several lives together taking on different roles. ie One life time a boy, a father and grandfather, another lifetime a girl, a mother and grandmother. It varies.

A recent public example is the story of James, a World War II pilot who died in combat over Japanese waters and died in the 1940's. In the 1990's his spirit was reborn in a new baby boy in the United States. Early childhood memories were able to rebuild his past life as the US World War II pilot.

This only has to happen once to prove the concept that a person's consciousness / spirit is separate from his physical body, but that in order to experience life they MUST work together.

The web site "Past Children's Lives" has many more examples of young children 3 to 5 years old remembering past lives on Earth.

It is very interesting and fundamentally answers the question, "What is life?"

11 years ago

i was a bit put out when they mentioned AC and didnt mention Tesla, but what ya gonna do hey? all in all, a good series

12 years ago

i know why mars goes backwards in the sky but, he doesnt explain it does he?

12 years ago

35 years ago-I read psychology. I 'thought' BF Skinner was slightly odd-or rather that his theories were. Perhaps it was because I liked birds (UK slang version particularly)...
and I thought it was not right to treat pidgeons that way; re-episode 5/6.

Now -with PR; TV -and their servings of propanganda and consumer products-to an imcreasingly susceptible society (the adjective was the kindest one -replacing sheepish)-
I see behaviourisn as valid -though not the greatest method to treat conditions such as PTSD (trauma anxieties) and depression. I know-c 1981.

Besides, birds deserve more respect

Maurice in Ireland

aka Liebwitz

addendum----Presenter a bit too cloyingly off-putting. Bring on Dr. Jan Garavaglia (notwithstanding slightly different discipline)

12 years ago

My favourites were that valuable contributions made by the woman and the black man

12 years ago

Michael Mosley has been in some very interesting sciences documentary recently and this it one of them. More history then science but totally amazing.

12 years ago

Very interesting! Thank God for the enlightenment and the rise of technology. Science is the most precise of all disciplines (within it's scope of inquiry) but it does not have a monopoly on the truth

12 years ago

It does seem like all of our social problems are Insignificant compared to the Greatness of the Universe. I just wish everyone could see it that way, then we would really enjoy the beauty of our existence.

12 years ago

Great series !!!!
Learnt a lot about life and things around us.

12 years ago

This is one of my favourite science documentary series, awesome!

12 years ago

This series is just excellent! 4.5 stars!

12 years ago

hey vlatko what happened to that Roachinkansas comment everyones talking about? sounds pretty controversial I want to read some of this 'shear' stupidity for myself

12 years ago

Some Greek philosophers like Aristarchus believed that the sun was the centre and not the Earth. Credit must be given where credit is due!

12 years ago

@ Sam "We have to remember that the search for power is innate and often overrides ethics, compassion and the material evidence". Thanks for that. I agree and would add it is personal power (or empowerment) that is most long for, (at least thinking and feeling that one has some power over the important aspects of their own life)... in that regard most of our societies get a FAIL - then 'we' seek power wherever 'we' can, and "ethics, compassion, material evidence" often,become secondary. @ Dick from Brisbane - Yes Top Docs is the best - Thank you Vlatko - you will find the comments are (often, sometimes) as good or better than the film. Enjoy.

12 years ago

this is a fascinating documentary,i learned alot about the world and how things work. Recommended

12 years ago

nice documentary, however the real discoverer are not always the ones mentioned here, there are far more important people paid their inventions with their lives. they just picked the most famous ones I think.

12 years ago

A great series, I learnt a lot. An engaging presenter. He trained as a medical doctor and his comment during the programme on Galen et al was very revealing - as a medical student one is forced to accept medical wisdom and not to question anything. Galen's very dodgy teachings were adhered to for over 1500 YEARS. Little in medicine moved on because doctors were braindead sheep who dared not step out of line and think independently.

THIS is the biggest problem with science. Once a 'big name' has pronounced, scientists generally follow like lemmings, much to the cost of others who suffer, often fatally, their need to conform.

I was disgusted though at the presenter's explication of the roots of psychology. Yet again, Jean Martin Charcot and Freud were lionised.

Charcot was a consummate showman. He paid 'patients' to act out, most dramatically, his theories. Freud, studying the spinal cords of fish, spent 18 weeks in a class of Charcot's in Paris.

After that Freud considered himself qualified to set himself up as an expert in the human psyche. His famous cases were absent of any science, he didn't actually meet one of his subjects and another dumped him after 11 weeks of what she felt to be nonsense.

The presenter, similarly, gives absolutely no explantion of any biological processes behind e.g. 'hysteria'.

But this is history as written by men who are intelligent enough to engage others but not intelligent enough to think for themselves.

Our presenter insists all through the programmes that science has ever been driven by 'power, passion and proof'. We have to remember that the search for power is innate and often overrides ethics, compassion and the material evidence.

With that major caveat about this series, if you bear in mind that our engaging presenter is seriously biased in some ways, then there's quite a lot to entertain and learn here.

Shashikiran Srinivasa
13 years ago

Remarkable piece of film. Very interesting look at all things around us. Really appreciate this being here... Thanks!

13 years ago

Dear Vlatko, i love this site. i get stoned and watch these videos all the time while doing homework and stuff. keep up the good work

13 years ago

Informative doc, but what happened to episode 5 called "What is the Secret of Life"???

Dick from Brisbane
13 years ago

What's the deal? Is this like, the one intelligent 'Comments' column on the net or something? Even the rants are entertaining - I haven't even watched this doco yet (that background image looked like a Disney childrens show or something) but I've got to check it out now (if only to see what RoachinKansas is on about)

Sandie M
13 years ago


13 years ago

bo - I think there are a lot of good documentaries on this site that will answer you question such as the psychology and religion sections,
religion has survived to this day by evolving with the times, also family and tradition have an influence.
and keep in mind that "30% of the europeans are never ever been able or capable to enter the net" - Neelie Kroes Vice President European Commission,
If you would allow me to extrapolate that across the globe, i would question if we are in a age of the internet after all.

13 years ago

Science does change. One thing I try to explain but have trouble thru my lack of communication skills, is that altho history has achieved many things, I have a hard time believing anything pre internet lol. The age of the internet is the days we have evolved to understand many things.

Take religion for example. How can I trust the Bible when back in that time, people didnt understand crapp! True many civilizations accomlished some amazing things and understood complex things but they also didnt understand most things. I think nowadays we can not only understand most things, but also have the technology to communicate that information. I believe we live in an age of knowledge.

What I'm trying to say is, why do people believe so easily, a religion that was invented during the days when people didnt understand anything? I know this video not about religion but it made me think of this question.

13 years ago

Good documentary,
entertaining take on history, not as good as James Burke – The Day The Universe Changed.
I would like to see episode 5.

13 years ago

I don't think it is ever "ok" to jump from a plane... even if its sitting on the ground.

With a parachute you might be able to avoid Epicurus' mushy pile, but as a betting man I would wager that the parachute wont always prevent the mushy pile.

So just because you can demonstrate one outcome doesn't mean another outcome isn't possible or more probable.

You have a very linear thought process. Common among those that misspell 'iteligent' and ignore punctuation.

13 years ago

@ RoachInKansas

I like the way you think

13 years ago

so roach are you skeptical that when you jump out of an airplane you will fall violently to the hard solid ground which would leave you a mushy pile of death?

many many things we know, will always be true. its not healthy to think everything is an illusion like you tried to allude to up there. actually that is a good way to get yourself killed through shear stupidity.

tyler durden
13 years ago

@ Roachinkansas, great rant! You're onto something. Lets be friends.