Transcript: Ep. 1 - Time and distance | Oct 01, 2013

The scene opens inside of a clock tower. Gears and small clock faces slowly turn. The clock tower is revealed to be Elizabeth Tower. The ornate gold-rimmed clock face strikes twelve. Big Beg chimes. On the ground, Marcus du So-toy walks along the street. He is bald, clean-shaven, and in his late forties. He wears blue jeans, a yellow, long-sleeved shirt, and a navy blue blazer. Big Ben continues to chime.

Marcus du So-toy says IN 1852,
CLOCKMAKER EDWARD DENT SET OUT
TO CONSTRUCT THE LARGEST AND
MOST ACCURATE PUBLIC CLOCK IN
THE WORLD.
IT TOOK SEVEN YEARS TO BUILD...
[clock chimes]

Marcus continues
A TESTAMENT TO A VERY HUMAN
NEED.
[clock chimes]

Marcus continues
OUR MODERN-DAY LIVES ARE
COMPLETELY DRIVEN BY PRECISE
MEASUREMENT.
TAKE BIG BEN; FOR OVER 150
YEARS, IT'S BEEN RINGING OUT
THE CORRECT TIME TO THE PEOPLE
OF LONDON.
WHEN BUILT, IT WAS AN
ENGINEERING MARVEL, ACCURATE TO
AN INCREDIBLE ONE SECOND AN
HOUR.
BUT TIMES HAVE CHANGED.

The scene changes to show the gears and mechanical workings of Big Ben. Gauges whirr and levers turn.
[Theme music plays]
The opening sequence rolls. Electrons revolve around a nucleus. Random sequences of numbers flash across the screen.

Marcus says TODAY, WE CAN BUILD CLOCKS
WHICH LOSE ONE SECOND IN
138 MILLION YEARS.

Images flash of the city streets of London, the inside of a laboratory, close-ups of scientific instruments, and an ornate clock face.

Marcus continues
AND NOW, THERE ARE PLANS FOR A
CLOCK ACCURATE TO WITHIN ONE
SECOND OVER THE LIFETIME OF THE
UNIVERSE.
WHAT IS IT THAT DRIVES US TO
SUCH EXTREMES OF EVER GREATER
PRECISION?
WHY DO WE FEEL THE NEED TO
QUANTIFY AND MEASURE, TO IMPOSE
ORDER ON THE WORLD AROUND US?

Now images show a grassy plain, ancient cave paintings, the Great Pyramids, and a rocket taking off. The screen changes to a Helium orbital.

Marcus continues
SINCE OUR ANCESTORS FIRST BEGAN
TO COUNT THE PASSING OF THE
SEASONS, SUCCESSIVE
CIVILIZATIONS HAVE USED
MEASUREMENT TO HELP MASTER THE
WORLD AROUND THEM.
IT'S TAKEN US TO THE MOON AND
SPLIT THE ATOM, AND IT
FASCINATES ME.

[Theme music ends]

While walking down a busy London street, Marcus says EVER SINCE I WAS YOUNG, I'VE
BEEN OBSESSED WITH MEASURING
THINGS, TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF
THE WORLD AROUND ME.
BUT WHERE DID THESE
MEASUREMENTS COME FROM?
I MEAN, WHO DECIDED A KILO WAS
A KILO, AND A SECOND A SECOND?

Images of clocks and rulers flash across the screen.

Marcus continues
WHAT WE MEASURE, HOW WE MEASURE
IT, AND HOW ACCURATELY WE CAN
MEASURE IT ARE SURPRISINGLY
COMPLEX QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS
WHICH HAVE OBSESSED GENERATIONS
OF GREAT MINDS AND CREATED A
SYSTEM THAT DESCRIBES
EVERYTHING IN OUR WORLD WITH
JUST SEVEN FUNDAMENTAL UNITS OF
MEASUREMENT.
AND THE QUEST TO DEFINE THOSE
SEVEN UNITS WITH EVER GREATER
PRECISION HAS CHANGED OUR
WORLD.

The image changes to the Earth in space. The screen turns to black. A violet laser beam cuts through. The title of the show appears. It reads, "Precision: The Measure of All Things. Time and Distance."

The episode opens on a sunny autumn day. A black car driving down an empty road. A caption flashes across the screen. It reads, "Presented by Marcus du So-toy."

Marcus says IN THIS SERIES, I WANT TO
EXPLORE WHY WE MEASURE.
WHAT DRIVES US TO TRY AND
REDUCE THE CHAOS AND COMPLEXITY
OF THE WORLD TO JUST A HANDFUL
OF ELEMENTARY UNITS?

Inside the car, Marcus continues
IN THIS FIRST PROGRAM, I'M
GOING TO BE LOOKING AT TWO OF
THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL
MEASUREMENTS, NAMELY THE METRE
AND THE SECOND.
IT'S LIKELY THAT TIME AND
DISTANCE WERE THE FIRST THINGS
PEOPLE EVER TRIED TO MEASURE.
THEY SEEM CLOSELY LINKED IN OUR
MINDS.
WE EVEN TALK ABOUT LENGTH OF
TIME.
AND, AS WE'LL SEE, TIME AND
DISTANCE ARE INEXTRICABLY
CONNECTED BY MODERN SCIENCE.
BEING ABLE TO MEASURE TIME
ACTUALLY MEANS SPOTTING
PATTERNS, AND THAT'S ACTUALLY A
VERY MATHEMATICAL WAY OF
LOOKING AT THE WORLD.
IN FACT, MEASURING TIME IS AN
INCREDIBLY SOPHISTICATED ACT.
SO, WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
OUR ANCESTORS WOULD HAVE FIRST
PICKED UP ON THE PATTERNS OF
THE SEASONS...

Brown autumn leaves sway in the wind. Marcus stands in a wooded area full of moss-covered trees.
Marcus says MARKING TIME AS THE LEAVES
TURNED BROWN, OR THE DAYS GOT
SHORTER, WHEN RIVERS FLOODED,
OR BERRIES RIPENED.
THESE VERY PRACTICAL
OBSERVATIONS WOULD HAVE HELPED
THEM IN THE DAILY STRUGGLE TO
SURVIVE.
ONE OF THE FIRST EXAMPLES OF
HUMAN'S ATTEMPTS TO MEASURE WAS
DISCOVERED HERE IN SOUTHERN
FRANCE BY FOUR TEENAGERS AND
THEIR DOG CALLED ROBOT.

The screen changes to a black and white photograph of two teenage boys in the woods. One is tying a rope around a tree while the other is crouched next to a white dog with a dark-coloured patch around his eye.

Marcus continues
IT WAS 1940, AND THE
18-YEAR-OLD MARCEL RAVIDAT WAS
EXPLORING THESE WOODS WHEN HE
CAME ACROSS A HOLE WHERE A TREE
HAD BEEN UPROOTED BY A STORM.
HE NEEDED SOME TOOLS TO MAKE
THE HOLE BIGGER, SO HE CAME
BACK FOUR DAYS LATER WITH HIS
THREE FRIENDS, AND THEY
UNCOVERED THE ENTRANCE TO A
HUGE SYSTEM OF UNEXPLORED
CAVES.
BUT WHAT THEY DISCOVERED INSIDE
WAS EVEN MORE EXCITING.

A black-and-white photograph shows the teenage boys and an older man in a suit standing at the entrance of a cave leading into the ground.

The image changes to the inside of the cave. The walls are covered with paintings of red, yellow, and black equines, stags, and bulls. The images are flat and show primitive perspective of movement.

Looking around the cave, Marcus says WOW.
THE BOYS MUST HAVE BEEN
ABSOLUTELY STAGGERED TO COME IN
HERE AND SEE THESE IMAGES
PAINTED ON THE WALL.
I MEAN, THESE ARE SOME OF THE
OLDEST CAVE PAINTINGS.
OH, LOOK AT THIS - ALL OVER THE
WALL!
MARCEL AND HIS FRIENDS HAD
DISCOVERED SOME OF THE EARLIEST
CAVE PAINTINGS EVER FOUND.
THESE DATE BACK 17,000 YEARS
AND WERE PAINTED BY CRO-MAGNON
MAN.
IT'S BEAUTIFUL.
YOU CAN REALLY FEEL THE ENERGY
OF THESE ANIMALS RUSHING ACROSS
THE WALLS.
THIS CAVE IS A REPLICA OF THE
ORIGINAL, WHICH IS A FEW
HUNDRED METRES FROM HERE, AND
IS NOW CAREFULLY PRESERVED.
Dr. MICHAEL RAPPENGLUECK
BELIEVES THESE PAINTINGS ARE
EVIDENCE OF MAN'S FIRST ATTEMPT
TO MEASURE TIME.

Dr. Michael Rappengluck and Marcus walk around the dark cave.

Dr. Michael Rappengluck points up and says THIS ONE IS VERY, VERY
BEAUTIFUL.

He is in his late forties with a black and white hair and a black beard. He wears glasses, a teal sweater, and a light green undershirt.

Marcus says TO HIM, THIS IS A
GIANT CALENDAR.
THE CLUES LIE IN THESE STRANGE
PATTERNS OF DOTS.

He points to a series of horizontally drawn black dots underneath a black stag.

Dr. Michael Rappengluck says EACH DOT REPRESENTS A WEEK.
13 DOTS REPRESENT ONE QUARTER
OF A YEAR.

Marcus says HIS THEORY IS THAT
EACH SEVEN-DAY PHASE OF THE
MOON - WHAT TODAY WE'D CALL A
WEEK - IS MARKED WITH A DOT ON
THE WALL TO CHART THE PASSING
OF TIME.

A clip shows the different phases of the moon.

Marcus says IT WAS A DISTINCTIVELY SHAPED
CLUSTER OF DOTS THAT EVENTUALLY
ALLOWED HIM TO UNLOCK THE FULL
MEANING OF THE PAINTINGS.

Dr. Michael Rappengluck says LOOK UP TO THE CEILING; YOU SEE
SIX DOTS.
IT REMINDS A LITTLE DIPPER, AND
I THINK THIS IS THE STAR
PATTERN OF THE PLEIADES.

Marcus says OH, RIGHT, SO THESE
DOTS ARE NOT REPRESENTING WEEKS
ANYMORE; THESE ARE STARS UP
THERE?

Dr. Michael Rappengluck says YES, THESE ARE STARS, AND THEY
SERVE TO START THE YEAR.

Marcus says WHEN OUR ANCESTORS
SAW THE STARS FORM THIS SAME
ALIGNMENT IN THE SKY, IT WOULD
MARK THE START OF THEIR YEAR.
Dr. RAPPENGLUECK BELIEVES THE
ANIMALS HAVE MEANING TOO.

Dr. Michael Rappengluck says THE STAG REPRESENTS AUTUMN
EQUINOX, AND IT'S STARTING A
TIME CYCLE TO THE HORSE.
THE HORSE REPRESENTS
SPRINGTIME, AND YOU SEE THE
HORSE IS PREGNANT - HIGHLY
PREGNANT, SO THREE QUARTERS OF
A YEAR ARE REPRESENTED ON THE
WALL.

Marcus says SO, IT'S THE STAR
CALENDAR FOLLOWED BY THE
CALENDAR MARKING THE WEEKS THAT
ALLOWS THEM TO KNOW WHEN THE
STAGS ARE RUTTING, OR PREGNANT
ANIMALS-

Dr. Michael Rappenglueck says THEY SYNCHRONIZED BIOLOGICAL
RHYTHMS OF ANIMALS WITH
ASTRONOMICAL RHYTHMS.

Marcus says IT'S AN
EXTRAORDINARILY SOPHISTICATED
SYSTEM FOR 17,000 YEARS AGO.
IT'S AMAZING!
WITH THE AID OF THIS BASIC
CALENDAR, FOR THE FIRST TIME,
OUR ANCESTORS COULD START TO
PREDICT WHAT WOULD HAPPEN, AND
WHEN.
THEY COULD PREPARE TO HUNT WHEN
ANIMALS MIGRATED CLOSE BY OR,
AS AGRICULTURE DEVELOPED,
DETERMINE THE BEST TIME TO
PLANT CROPS.
MEASUREMENT WAS MAKING LIFE
EASIER.

The image changes to the deserts of Egypt. A pyramid towers in distance. A caption reads, "Pyramids of Giza: Egypt."

Marcus sits on a stone wall. He says BUT AS COMMUNITIES GREW, SO DID
THE NEED FOR MORE PRECISE
TIMEKEEPING BEYOND THE CYCLES
OF THE MOON, THE STARS, AND THE
SEASONS.
13,000 YEARS AFTER OUR
ANCESTORS PAINTED THE CAVES IN
LASCAUX, FIRST THE
MESOPOTAMIANS AND THEN THE
EGYPTIANS STARTED TO TACKLE THE
PROBLEM OF DIVIDING UP THE DAY.
AND THEY TOOK THEIR INSPIRATION
FROM THE SUN.

The sun shines above a pyramid.

Marcus continues
BY OBSERVING HOW THE LENGTH OF
A SHADOW CHANGED THROUGH THE
DAY, THEY FOUND AN EASY WAY TO
MEASURE TIME.
AND THEY USED A DEVICE JUST
LIKE THIS.

In the middle of an I-shaped stone sits a rectangular block with a cube on top. There are 6 lines on either side of the block. A shadow falls on the stone.

Marcus says THIS IS A REPLICA OF AN ANCIENT
EGYPTIAN SUNDIAL, AND IT'S ONE
OF THE FIRST INSTRUMENTS EVER
CREATED TO MEASURE TIME.
NOW, AT MIDDAY, THIS STONE HERE
WOULD HAVE CAST NO SHADOW.
BUT AS THE DAY WENT ON, THE
SHADOW WOULD GET LONGER AND
LONGER, SO THE ANCIENT
EGYPTIANS DECIDED TO DIVIDE THE
DAY UP INTO 12 UNITS.
AND YOU CAN SEE THE LINES HERE;
WE'VE GOT ONE, TWO, THREE,
FOUR, FIVE, SIX LINES FOR THE
AFTERNOON, AND SIX FOR THE
MORNING.
IT'S JUST COMING UP TO THREE
O'CLOCK.

The block casts a shadow to the third line of the I-shaped block.

Marcus continues
BY LINKING TIME AND DISTANCE,
THEY COULD RELIABLY MEASURE
SHORTER PERIODS OF TIME,
TELLING THE TIME BY MEASURING
THE LENGTH OF A SHADOW.

The sky turns orange. The sun sets behind one of the pyramids.

Marcus continues
ALTHOUGH THE SUNDIAL WAS A
BRILLIANT INVENTION, IT WAS
FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED.
IT DIDN'T WORK AT NIGHT.
LIKE THE CAVEMEN OF LASCAUX,
WHO USED STARS TO MARK THE
SEASONS, THE EGYPTIANS WENT ONE
STEP FURTHER.
THEY USED THEM TO DIVIDE UP THE
HOURS OF DARKNESS.
BUT ON A CLOUDY NIGHT, JUST AS
ON A CLOUDY DAY, THEY STILL HAD
NO WAY OF TELLING THE TIME, AND
THIS IS WHERE THEY MADE A
CONCEPTUAL LEAP.

Now, a stone bucket is shown. It is covered with hieroglyphics on the outside and inside.

Marcus says THIS IS A WATER CLOCK.
IT'S A VERY SIMPLE IDEA.
BASICALLY, WHAT THEY DID WAS TO
TAKE A BUCKET AND MAKE A HOLE
IN THE BOTTOM.
THEN, AS NIGHT FELL, THEY WOULD
FILL THE BUCKET WITH WATER.

It is night time. Marcus holds up an ordinary bucket with a hole at the bottom.
He fills it with water.

He continues
NOW, AS THE WATER DRIPS OUT,
THEY CAN USE LINES MARKED ON
THE SIDE OF THE BUCKET TO TELL
HOW MUCH TIME HAS PASSED
THROUGH THE NIGHT.

Water drips out of the bucket.

Marcus continues
THEY COULD MEASURE 12 HOURS
INDEPENDENTLY OF THE SUN OR THE
STARS.
BUT WHY COUNT 12 HOURS AT ALL?
THE ANSWER LIES IN HOW BUSINESS
WAS DONE THOUSANDS OF YEARS
AGO.
THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE EAST, THE
NUMBER 12 AND THE NUMBER 60
WERE IMPORTANT IN COMMERCE.
THEY'RE NUMBERS THAT WERE
FAMILIAR TO TRADERS IN MARKETS
JUST LIKE THIS.

The Islamic call to prayer is played. Marcus walks through an Egyptian market place.

He says AND THE REASON THEY USE THEM IS
ALL TO DO WITH ARITHMETIC.
AS A MATHEMATICIAN, I LOVE THE
ANSWER, BECAUSE IT'S ABOUT THE
MATHEMATICAL PROPERTIES OF
THESE TWO NUMBERS.
THEY'RE HIGHLY DIVISIBLE.

[Arabic music plays]
In front of Marcus are 60 beans divided into 6 groups of 10.

He says TAKE THE NUMBER 60.
I CAN DIVIDE 60 BEANS IN TO
6 GROUPS OF 10 BEANS,
5 GROUPS OF 12 BEANS,
4 GROUPS OF 15 BEANS,
3 GROUPS OF 20 BEANS,
5 THERE...
2 GROUPS OF 30 BEANS...
OR 1 GROUP OF 60 BEANS.

He combines all the beans together.

Marcus says BUT TAKE 100 BEANS: HOW CAN I
DIVIDE THAT?
I CAN DIVIDE IT IN TO 2 GROUPS
OF 50, BUT DIVIDE BY 3 AND I'VE
GOT TO START CUTTING A BEAN.
BECAUSE THE NUMBERS 12 AND 60
WERE SO FAMILIAR TO EGYPTIANS,
IT WAS PERHAPS NO GREAT
CONCEPTUAL LEAP FOR THEM TO
COME UP WITH A 12-HOUR NIGHT
AND DAY.
SO, THE IDEA STUCK.

Images flash of the broad Nile river and the lush valleys surrounding it.

Marcus says IT WASN'T JUST THE MEASUREMENT
OF TIME THAT THE EGYPTIANS
NEEDED TO TACKLE.
THEY ALSO NEEDED TO FIND BETTER
WAYS TO MEASURE DISTANCE.
EVERY YEAR, THE NILE WOULD
FLOOD, BRINGING GREAT FERTILITY
TO THE LAND.

BUT, WITH EACH FLOOD, THE
BORDERS OF THE FARMERS' LAND
WOULD BE WASHED AWAY.
SO, WHEN THE WATERS RECEDED, AN
ACCURATE WAY OF MEASURING FIELD
SIZE AND RE-ESTABLISHING
BOUNDARIES WAS CRITICAL.
THEY NEEDED A RELIABLE AND
UNIFORM MEASURE OF LENGTH.
AND THEIR SOLUTION WAS THIS:

He holds up a black rod covered in white hieroglyphics.

Marcus continues
IT'S A CUBIT ROD, AND IT'S THE
EGYPTIAN EQUIVALENT OF A RULER.
ITS LENGTH WAS THE DISTANCE OF
THE PHARAOH'S CUBIT, WHICH WAS
THE LENGTH FROM HIS ELBOW TO
THE TIP OF HIS MIDDLE FINGER.
SO, ACTUALLY, MY CUBIT IS
SLIGHTLY SHORTER THAN THE
PHARAOH'S.
BUT THIS LED TO THE EGYPTIANS
CREATING SOME OF THE MOST
REMARKABLE BUILDINGS THE WORLD
HAS EVER SEEN.

THIS IS THE GREAT PYRAMID OF
CHEOPS, BUILT OVER 4,500 YEARS
AGO FOR THE 4th DYNASTY PHARAOH
KHUFU.

He stands at the bottom of the immense pyramid.

Marcus says IT'S SAID 20,000 MEN TOOK 20
YEARS TO BUILD IT USING OVER
TWO MILLION LIMESTONE BLOCKS,
ALL METICULOUSLY ALIGNED AND
MEASURED WITH THE CUBIT ROD.

Marcus stands next to Dr. Fathi Saleh. He is in his mid-fifties with sparse hair around his ears and a grey mustache. He wears a blue button down and black slacks.

Dr. Fathi Saleh says THIS IS A
MIRACULOUS BUILDING.
THE LENGTH OF THE SIDE IS
440 CUBITS EXACTLY.

Marcus holds the cubit rod and says EXACTLY?

Dr. Fathi Saleh says EXACTLY,
AND THE HEIGHT IS 280 CUBITS
EXACTLY.
ALSO, IT'S VERY SQUARE.
IT HAS PERFECTION IN EVERY PART
OF IT.

Marcus says ABSOLUTELY, AND WITH
SO MANY PEOPLE WORKING ON IT,
SPREAD OVER, I GUESS, A LARGE
AREA AND A LARGE AMOUNT OF
TIME, I MEAN, ACTUALLY HAVING A
STANDARD UNIT OF MEASUREMENT
MUST HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTELY
ESSENTIAL.

Dr. Fathi Saleh says EXACTLY;
THEY HAD A ROPE WHICH IS 100
TIMES THIS THAT HAS KNOTS IN IT
EVERY ONE CUBIT OR EVERY 10
CUBITS, WHICH IS CALLED HET.

Marcus says OKAY, WE WANT TO
MEASURE 440, SO WE NEED TO TAKE
THE CORNERSTONE AS OUR
STARTING-

Dr. Fathi Saleh says EXACTLY.

Marcus says AND SO, IF YOU START
MEASURING.

Dr. Fathi Saleh says YES.

Marcus lays a piece of rope next to the cornerstone. Dr Saleh rolls it backwards.

Marcus says THE ORIGINAL
CORNERSTONES ARE NO LONGER
VISIBLE, BUT THE FOUNDATIONS
ARE STILL HERE FOR ALL TO SEE.
I THINK I CHOSE THE EASY JOB.

Dr. Salah lays the rope down at the other end of the pyramid. Marcus walks over and says 430...
WOW, 440 CUBITS PRETTY
MUCH ON THE KNOT!

Dr. Fathi Saleh says EXACTLY!

The image changes to Marcus stands in front of the pyramids at night.

Marcus says WHAT'S SO REMARKABLE
ABOUT THE EGYPTIAN SYSTEM IS
THAT THEY WERE ONE OF THE FIRST
TO STANDARDIZE LENGTH
MEASUREMENT.
IT'S SAID THAT EVERY FULL MOON,
THE SURVEYORS ACROSS THE LAND
WOULD GATHER AND COMPARE THEIR
WOODEN CUBIT ROD AGAINST THE
ROYAL MASTER CUBIT.
MADE OF GRANITE, THIS WAS HELD
BY THE ROYAL SURVEYOR.
FAILURE TO MAINTAIN AN ACCURATE
CUBIT WAS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH.
IT WAS A VERY SIMPLE AND
EFFICIENT WAY TO STANDARDIZE
LENGTH MEASUREMENT ACROSS THE
LAND, AND IT ENABLED THE
EGYPTIANS TO MEASURE THINGS
WITH PHENOMENAL ACCURACY.
MASTERING AND STANDARDIZING
TIME AND LENGTH MEASUREMENT WAS
REALLY KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF
THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN EMPIRE.

A series of hieroglyphics flash across the screen.

Marcus continues THE POWER OF MEASUREMENT IS
THAT IT CREATED ORDER OUT OF
CHAOS AND ALLOWED CIVILIZATION
TO FLOURISH.

Now, inside of a taxi, Marcus says THE STANDARDIZATION OF
MEASUREMENT, WHICH BEGAN HERE
IN EGYPT SEVERAL MILLENNIA AGO,
IS NOW CENTRAL TO ALL OUR
LIVES.
NEARLY EVERY COUNTRY IN THE
WORLD HAS A NATIONAL
MEASUREMENT BODY WHOSE MASTER
LENGTHS AND WEIGHTS ARE
CALIBRATED BY ONE INTERNATIONAL
BODY, A LITTLE BIT LIKE THE
MODERN DAY PHARAOHS TRYING TO
BRING STANDARDIZATION OF
MEASUREMENT ACROSS THE GLOBE.
BUT DESPITE THE OBVIOUS LOGIC
OF HAVING ONE INTERNATIONAL
SYSTEM, IT HASN'T BEEN
COMPLETELY EMBRACED.
TAKE ME, FOR EXAMPLE.
I'M GOING TO THE AIRPORT IN THIS
CAB WHICH MEASURES ITS SPEED IN
KILOMETRES PER HOUR AND MILES
PER HOUR.
WHEN I'M UP IN THE AIR, THEY'LL
BE MEASURING THEIR ALTITUDE IN
FEET, MY CLOTHES ARE MEASURED
IN INCHES, AND MY SHOES ARE
MEASURED IN - WELL, FRANKLY,
I'VE NEVER QUITE UNDERSTOOD
WHAT THE UNIT OF MEASUREMENT
FOR SHOE SIZE IS.
SHOE SIZES ASIDE,
STANDARDIZATION OF MEASUREMENT
UNDERPINS ALL MODERN SCIENCE,
THOUGH THE ROAD TO
STANDARDIZATION HAS NOT BEEN AN
EASY ONE.

The scene changes to Marcus walking into a cathedral with large vaulted ceilings and marble statues of apostles and other religious figures.

Marcus says THROUGHOUT HISTORY, RULERS HAD
A NASTY HABIT OF RIPPING UP
MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS AND
DEMANDING THAT THEY BE REPLACED
BY LENGTHS BASED ON THEIR OWN
BODY PARTS.
IN 12th CENTURY ENGLAND, THE
YARD WAS DEFINED AS THE LENGTH
FROM THE TIP OF THE KING'S NOSE
TO THE TOP OF HIS OUTSTRETCHED
THUMB.
BUT, AS EACH NEW REIGN CAME IN,
SO THINGS CHANGED.
HENRY THE 7TH, HE DEFINED A YARD AS
THE LENGTH OF HIS ARM.
ELIZABETH I, WELL, NOT TO BE
OUTDONE BY HER MALE
PREDECESSORS, ADDED A FEW MORE
INCHES.

AND SO, THE CHAOS CONTINUED.

The image changes to a shot of a bustling city. A caption reads, "Paris, France." The red, blue, and white flag of France waves in the wind.

Marcus says LACK OF STANDARDIZATION WAS A
PROBLEM ON THE CONTINENT TOO.
IF YOU THOUGHT THE BRITISH HAD
IT BAD, THEN SPARE A THOUGHT
FOR THE FRENCH.
ON THE EVE OF THE FRENCH
REVOLUTION, THE ANCIENT REGIME
HAD OVER 250,000 DIFFERENT
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES, INCLUDING
SEVERAL THOUSAND FOR LENGTH.
BY THE END OF THE 18th CENTURY,
PEOPLE REALIZED THAT SOMETHING
NEEDED TO BE DONE.
TRADE WAS IMPOSSIBLE AND OPEN
TO FRAUD, NAVIGATION WAS
TREACHEROUS, AND BUILDING PLANS
MADE BY AN ARCHITECT IN ONE
CITY COULDN'T BE REPRODUCED IN
THE OTHER BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T
HAVE THE SAME MEASUREMENTS.

Marcus stands in front of a long, cream coloured building. A colonnade flanks the entrance. A large dome rises from the center. Small windows adorn the ornate façade.

Marcus continues
THE MESS WAS FINALLY SORTED OUT
BY THE FRENCH ACADEMY OF
SCIENCES.
IT WAS THE LAST FEW DAYS OF THE
FRENCH MONARCHY, AND, BUOYED BY
THE REVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT OF THE
TIME, A SENSE OF EGALITE, AND
RATIONALISM, FRANCE'S BEST
SCIENTISTS DECIDED TO FORM A
GROUNDBREAKING AND
REVOLUTIONARY PLAN OF THEIR
OWN.
NO LONGER WOULD MEASUREMENT BE
BASED ON THE HUMAN BODY OR THE
VANITY OF KINGS AND QUEENS.
THEY DECIDED THAT IT SHOULD BE
BASED ON SOMETHING PERMANENT
AND UNCHANGING.
THEY CHOSE THE EARTH.

The Earth is shown revolving in space.
Now, Marcus walks into the French Academy of Science. Busts and statues fill the hallways. Marcus stands in a wood-paneled meeting room fill with long desks.

He says IT'S REALLY EXCITING TO BE
HERE.
THIS IS REALLY ONE OF THE GREAT
SCIENTIFIC CENTRES IN THE WHOLE
OF THE WORLD.
AND THIS IS WHERE THE MODERN
STORY OF MEASUREMENT REALLY
BEGAN, WHERE A NEW STANDARDIZED
UNIT OF LENGTH WAS INTRODUCED,
ONE THAT IS FAMILIAR TO US ALL
TODAY.
ON THE 26th OF MARCH 1791, THE
ACADEMY HERE DECIDED TO CALL
THIS NEW LENGTH MEASUREMENT THE
METRE.

A silver ruler flashes on the screen.

Marcus continues
NAMED AFTER THE GREEK WORD
METRON, MEANING MEASURE, THEY
DECIDED THAT IT SHOULD BE ONE
TEN-MILLIONTH OF THE DISTANCE
BETWEEN THE NORTH POLE AND THE
EQUATOR.

The French flag waves outside.

Marcus continues
IT WAS VERY CLEVER.
THE ACADEMY KNEW THAT A FRENCH
COLLOQUIAL MEASURE WOULD NEVER
BE ACCEPTED BY THE REST OF THE
WORLD.
BY BASING THE METRE ON THE
PLANET ITSELF, NO ONE COUNTRY
COULD ARGUE FOR THEIR OWN
MEASURE.
THEY HAD TRANSCENDED THE
POLITICS OF NATIONS.
THIS IS A SYSTEM FOR ALL PEOPLE
FOR ALL TIME, ANNOUNCED THE
REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT.
THERE WAS ONE PROBLEM THOUGH:
NOBODY KNEW ACCURATELY WHAT THE
DISTANCE BETWEEN THE NORTH POLE
AND THE EQUATOR ACTUALLY WAS.
GETTING AN ACCURATE FIGURE
WOULD MEAN EMBARKING ON THE
MOST AMBITIOUS AND COMPLEX
LARGE-SCALE MEASUREMENT PROJECT
EVER ATTEMPTED.
TWO SCIENTISTS WERE TASKED WITH
TURNING THE THEORY INTO
REALITY.
THEY WERE PIERRE MEH-CHEN AND
JEAN BAPTISTE DELUM.

The painted faces of both men are shown superimposed onto an old brown book. They are both adults with long, dark hair pulled back across their head.

Marcus continues
THEIR TASK WAS TO MEASURE THE
DISTANCE BETWEEN TWO POINTS ON
A MERIDIAN, OR LINE OF
LONGITUDE.

The image changes to a map of Europe. Two points appear at the northern and southern tips of Europe. The southern point reads, "Barcelona." The northern point reads, "Dunkirk." A straight dotted line connects the two.

Marcus continues
THEN, USING FAIRLY SIMPLE
MATHEMATICS AND KNOWING THE
LATITUDE OF EACH POINT, THEY
COULD EXTRAPOLATE AND CALCULATE
THE DISTANCE FROM THE POLE TO
THE EQUATOR.

An image shows the Earth covered in lines of longitude and latitude.

Marcus continues
THIS EXPERIMENT WOULD BE
DIFFICULT ENOUGH UNDER NORMAL
CONDITIONS, BUT FRANCE WAS IN
THE MIDDLE OF A REVOLUTION.
Several paintings flash on the screen showing people in the midst of battle on the city streets.
[battle cries echo]

Marcus says IT WAS A DANGEROUS TIME TO HAVE
BIG IDEAS THAT WERE NOT
NECESSARILY EASY FOR THE NEW
ORDER TO UNDERSTAND.
NEVERTHELESS, UNDAUNTED, THE
SCIENTISTS PUSHED AHEAD.

The image changes to a bustling city on a sunny day. A clock tower chimes. A caption reads, "Dunkirk, Northern France."

Marcus continues
IT WAS HERE IN 1793 FROM THIS
BELL TOWER IN DUNKIRK THAT JEAN
BAPTISTE DELUM STARTED THE
NORTHERNMOST PART OF HIS EPIC
QUEST TO MEASURE THE EARTH.
WHILE 800 MILES TO THE SOUTH,
BARCELONA WAS CHOSEN FOR PIERRE
MEH-CHEN.
THEIR PLAN WAS TO WORK TOWARDS
EACH OTHER AND MEET IN RODEZ IN
SOUTHERN FRANCE.

An image shows longitudinal line connecting Barcelona and Dunkirk. A point a quarter south of the mid-way point reads Rodez.
Marcus says YOU CAN IMAGINE DELUM'S
EXCITEMENT AS HE STOOD UP HERE
200 YEARS AGO, READY TO START
HIS JOURNEY, A JOURNEY THAT
WOULD TAKE HIM SEVEN YEARS TO
COMPLETE.
AND THE RATHER SPLENDID PIECE
OF EQUIPMENT THEY USED WAS
THIS: A REPEATING CIRCLE, A
DEVICE THAT MEASURES ANGLES
EXTREMELY ACCURATELY, AND AS
GOOD TODAY AS THE DAY IT WAS
MADE.

He looks through one of two telescopes mounted on a shared axis on a circle foundation.

Marcus says NOW, OBVIOUSLY, DELUM
WOULDN'T MEASURE EVERY DISTANCE
FROM HERE TO BARCELONA, BUT
WHAT HE CAN DO IS USE A METHOD
CALLED TRIANGULATION.
SO, THE FIRST POINT OF THE
TRIANGLE IS THE TOP OF THIS
BELFRY.
THEN, DELUM WOULD HAVE
LOOKED ACROSS THE COUNTRYSIDE
TRYING TO FIND TWO HIGH POINTS,
AND HE WOULD USE THIS PIECE OF
EQUIPMENT TO LINE UP THE
TELESCOPES ON THOSE TWO OTHER
POINTS.
THEN, ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS
MEASURE THE ANGLE BETWEEN THE
TWO POINTS AND MEASURE THE
DISTANCE TO THE CLOSEST ONE.
BY THEN MOVING TO THE NEXT HIGH
POINT AND MEASURING THE ANGLES
AGAIN, SIMPLE GEOMETRY GAVE HIM
THE DISTANCES BETWEEN ALL
THREE.
[seagull screeching]
SO, IT'S AN AMAZING PRINCIPLE
BECAUSE JUST ONE MEASUREMENT OF
DISTANCE, AND THEN IT'S
TRIANGLES ALL THE WAY TO
BARCELONA.
DELUM HAD A NUMBER OF CLOSE
SCRAPES ALONG THE WAY.
HE WAS ARRESTED SEVERAL TIMES,
ACCUSED OF BEING A SPY.
WHY ELSE WOULD HE BE SCALING
TOWERS CARRYING STRANGE
EQUIPMENT?

HE TRIED TO EXPLAIN THAT HE WAS
MEASURING THE SIZE OF THE EARTH
FOR THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.
BUT A DRUNK MILITIAMAN
INTERRUPTED: THERE IS NO MORE
ACADEMY.
WE ARE ALL EQUAL NOW.
YOU'LL COME WITH US.
BUT, IN GENERAL, THEY WERE
LITERALLY ABOVE IT ALL: ON
ROOFTOPS, TOWERS, AND CHURCH
SPIRES, THEY CARRIED OUT THEIR
QUEST.
IT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY FEAT.
SEVEN LONG YEARS LATER, THE TWO
MEN HAD MEASURED THE EXACT
DISTANCE BETWEEN DUNKIRK AND
BARCELONA.
NOW, THE METRE WAS JUST A
SIMPLE CALCULATION.

Marcus walks through a stone archway that reads Archives National

He continues
THE RESULT OF ALL MECHAIN AND
DELAMBRE'S HARD LABOUR, THE
PROTOTYPE METRE BAR, IS HELD
HERE AT THE FRENCH NATIONAL
ARCHIVES IN PARIS.
MADE IN SEVENTEEN NINETY-NINE OF PURE PLATINUM,
IT'S MEANT TO REPRESENT ONE
TEN-MILLIONTH OF THE DISTANCE
BETWEEN THE NORTH POLE AND THE
EQUATOR.
IN FACT, DUE TO ERRORS THAT
MECHAIN MADE EARLY ON IN HIS
SURVEY, IT'S FRACTIONALLY
WRONG.
THE ERRORS THAT MEH-CHEN MADE
WERE PRETTY MUCH IRRELEVANT,
BECAUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE
WORLD HAD A UNIT OF LENGTH THAT
WAS BASED ON SOMETHING THEY
BELIEVED WAS PERMANENT AND
UNCHANGING: THE EARTH.

He walks into a room filled with large windows and bookshelves. On a wooden table sits a green cloth with a thin, wooden box. Marcus opens the box. It is lined with red velvet. Inside sits a silver ruler.

He says THERE IT IS, THE METRE.
A THING OF BEAUTY.
NOT SO MUCH THE OBJECT, BUT THE
IDEA IT REPRESENTS.
THIS METRE BAR USHERED IN THE
ERA OF METRIFICATION, AND
THE ACHIEVEMENT IS IMMENSE.
EVEN NAPOLEON, IN A MOMENT OF
HUMILITY, ADMITTED THAT
"CONQUESTS COME AND GO, BUT
THIS WORK WILL ENDURE."
AND HE WAS RIGHT; THIS LUMP
OF METAL REALLY REPRESENTS A
CHANGE IN OUR THINKING.
FOR THE FIRST TIME, WE HAD
MEASUREMENT BASED ON SOMETHING
FUNDAMENTAL AND UNIVERSAL.

He shuts the box and walks out of the Academy.

Marcus continues
THE CONCEPT WAS BRILLIANT, BUT
THE METRE'S TRIUMPHANT ARRIVAL
WAS NOT EMBRACED WITH UNIVERSAL
ENTHUSIASM.
IN FACT, IT TOOK SEVERAL
DECADES BEFORE THE METRE WAS
FINALLY ACCEPTED AS A STANDARD
INTERNATIONAL UNIT OF
MEASUREMENT.
IT WAS ON A SPRING DAY IN EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-FIVE
THAT IT ALL BECAME OFFICIAL.

An image shows a piece of white parchment full of signatures.

Marcus continues
THE HISTORIC METRE CONVENTION
WAS SIGNED, AND METRE CLONES
SENT OUT AROUND THE WORLD.
IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF OUR
GLOBAL SYSTEM OF PRECISION AND
ACCURACY.
17 COUNTRIES SIGNED THE
CONVENTION TO FORM THE BIPM,
THE BUREAU INTERNATIONAL DES
POIDS ET MESURES

A black and white photograph shows a metal archway with the Bureau’s name on it. It leads to a large white-paneled building with a dark rooftop.

Marcus continues
THE
CUSTODIANS OF INTERNATIONAL
WEIGHT AND MEASUREMENT.
IT'S A ROLE THEY STILL PERFORM
TODAY.
METRICATION WAS TO BE THE BASIS
FOR A NEW SYSTEM OF
MEASUREMENT: THE SYSTEM
INTERNATIONALE, OR SI.
IT EVEN LED TO A NEW SCIENCE:
METROLOGY, THE STUDY AND
REFINEMENT OF MEASUREMENT.

THE METRE HAD UNITED THE WORLD

AT LEAST, IN THEORY.

Images flash of the Earth and shadows moving across a sun dial.

Marcus continues
ALONGSIDE THE METRE, SEISMIC
CHANGES HAD HAPPENED IN HOW WE
MEASURED TIME.
FOR MORE THAN 3,000 YEARS, THE
SUNDIAL WAS THE TIMEKEEPER OF
CHOICE ACROSS THE WORLD.
BUT IT WAS NOT WITHOUT ITS
PROBLEMS.

An image shows shadows slowly creep down the walls of a stone building.

Marcus says AND THE REASON IS IT'S JUST NOT
POSSIBLE TO FIX THE EXACT
LENGTH OF AN HOUR, BECAUSE THE
SHADOW CAST ON THE DIAL ALTERS
DAILY THROUGHOUT THE SEASONS.
THE GREEK ASTRONOMER HIPPARCHUS
WAS THE FIRST TO NOTICE THE
EQUAL LENGTH OF DAY AND NIGHT
AT THE SPRING AND AUTUMN
EQUINOXES, AND THAT THIS COULD
GIVE US A STANDARD FOR SETTING
A FIXED LENGTH OF HOUR.

A black and white drawing shows an old man with a hunched back holding a geometric compass over a piece of paper. He is standing outside next to a large globe made of intersecting rings. Another drawing shows him sitting down looking through a long telescope.

Marcus continues
BUT UP UNTIL THE 14th CENTURY,
WE HAD NO PRACTICAL WAY OF
DOING THIS.
IT TOOK THE INVENTION OF THE
MECHANICAL CLOCK TO CHANGE
EVERYTHING.

An image shows the inside of a clock tower.
[clock parts clatter]
Now, the nave of a large cathedral is shown. Pointed arches lead up to the apse. A colourful stained glass window provides light for the cathedral. Marcus traipses about.

Marcus says THIS IS THE SALISBURY CATHEDRAL
CLOCK.

He stands in front of series of rope wrapped around poles, levers, and gears.

He continues
IT DATES BACK TO THIRTEEN EIGHTY-SIX, AND IT'S
BELIEVED TO BE THE OLDEST
SURVIVING MECHANICAL CLOCK IN
THE WORLD.
FOR ME, THIS IS AN ABSOLUTELY
STAGGERING ACHIEVEMENT.
I MEAN, THIS IS THE 14th
CENTURY, THE MEDIEVAL TIME, AND
HERE A BLACKSMITH AND A
STONEMASON HAVE CREATED
SOMETHING THAT IS ABLE TO
REGULATE TIME.
NOW, IT ISN'T DRIVEN BY A
PENDULUM; THOSE SORT OF CLOCKS
WOULDN'T BE INVENTED UNTIL THE
17th CENTURY.
INSTEAD, IT'S THESE WEIGHTS AT
THE BACK WHICH ARE CONTROLLING
THE CLOCK; AND AS THE WEIGHTS
FALL, THEY UNWIND THE ROPES
AROUND THESE BARRELS.

Small weights slowly drift down towards the floor.

Marcus continues
IT'S GRAVITY THAT DRIVES THE
CLOCK, AND ALL YOU NEED TO
POWER IT IS SOME MUSCLE TO
RAISE THE WEIGHTS.
THE INTRIGUING THING IS THERE
ISN'T ANY CLOCK FACE ON THIS
CLOCK.
IT WAS ALREADY QUITE AN
ACHIEVEMENT IN THAT TIME JUST
TO GET THAT BELL TO BONG EVERY
HOUR.
[bell ringing]
BY THE END OF THE 14th CENTURY,
MANY CATHEDRALS ACROSS EUROPE
HAD BUILT CLOCK TOWERS,
TOWERING UP TO THE HEAVENS,
GLORIFYING GOD, BUT, PERHAPS
MORE IMPORTANTLY, CONTROLLING
THE LIVES OF US MERE MORTALS
DOWN BELOW.
THE CLOCKS WEREN'T TERRIBLY
ACCURATE - PROBABLY THE BEST
ONES LOST 15 MINUTES A DAY -
BUT THEY BEGAN TO IRREVOCABLY
CHANGE PEOPLE'S LIVES.
NO LONGER DEPENDENT ON THE SUN,
WE WERE TIED TO THE CHIMES OF
MANMADE CLOCKS.

[bell ringing]
Images flash of numerous clock towers.

Marcus continues
IN THE 15th AND 16TH CENTURIES,
AS THE MECHANISMS BECAME MORE
ACCURATE, THE CLOCK FACE ITSELF
APPEARED, SOMETHING WE NOW TAKE
FOR GRANTED.
IT THEN BECAME POSSIBLE TO
BREAK DOWN OUR DAY INTO EVEN
SMALLER UNITS.
FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE HOUR
COULD BE DIVIDED INTO MINUTES
AND SECONDS.
THE IDEA CAME FROM THE GREEK
MATHEMATICIAN PTOLEMY, WHO
DIVIDED A CIRCLE INTO 360 EQUAL
PARTS CALLED DEGREES.

A drawing shows fully bearded Ptolemy wearing a lavish crown and holding a quarter of a circle.

Marcus continues
HE THEN SPLIT EACH DEGREE INTO
60 MINUTES, AND EACH MINUTE
INTO 60-SECOND MINUTES.

Images flash of colourful clocks and watches.

Marcus continues
WHICH GAVE US THE WORDS WE USE
TODAY.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TIME
AND LENGTH WAS GETTING CLOSER.
WE NOW MEASURED THE PASSAGE OF
TIME BY THE DISTANCE THE HAND
TRAVELLED AROUND THE CLOCK
FACE.

Marcus walks around the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral and says MECHANICAL CLOCKS GAVE US A
FIXED HOUR, BUT ACTUALLY
SETTING THEM TO THE RIGHT TIME
WAS STILL A PROBLEM.
WE STILL LOOKED TO THE SUN, AND
SET OUR CLOCKS AND WATCHES TO
NOON WHEN THE SUN WAS DIRECTLY
OVERHEAD.
BUT THAT MEANT THAT EACH TOWN
HAD ITS OWN DIFFERENT TIME.
FOR EXAMPLE, HERE IN SALISBURY,
THE CLOCKS WERE OVER SEVEN
MINUTES LATER THAN THE CLOCKS
IN LONDON.
THE REASON?
WELL, WE'RE FURTHER WEST HERE,
SO THE SUN ARRIVES OVERHEAD
LATER.

A black-and-white clips shows a train riding down tracks billowing smoke in its wake.

Marcus continues
BUT, WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF
STEAM POWER IN THE EARLY 19th
CENTURY, THINGS HAD TO CHANGE
BECAUSE IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO
SET BUSY TRAIN TIMETABLES IF
EVERY TOWN HAD ITS OWN
DIFFERENT TIME.
A SINGLE NATIONAL TIME WAS
URGENTLY NEEDED.
UNDER THE UNSWERVING LEADERSHIP
OF SIR GEORGE AIRY, THE
ASTRONOMER ROYAL AT THE
GREENWICH OBSERVATORY,
GREENWICH TIME BECAME THE TIME
FOR GREAT BRITAIN.

A black and white photograph shows Sir George. He is in his late fifties with white hair and a white beard. He wears a suit.

Marcus continues
THE RAILWAYS WERE THE FIRST TO
SWITCH THEIR ENTIRE TIMETABLE
TO THIS NEW TIME.
AND THEY DID IT BY SENDING THE
CORRECT TIME TO VIRTUALLY EVERY
STATION IN THE COUNTRY BY THE
NEW TELEGRAPH LINES, WHICH
OFTEN RAN ALONGSIDE THE
RAILWAYS.

A clip shows a train riding along train tracks.
[steam engine chugs]
[whistle blows]

Marcus continues
GRADUALLY, NATIONAL AND
INTERNATIONAL TIME BECAME
ESSENTIAL FOR BUSINESS, AND, IN
EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, GREENWICH TIME WAS
UNIVERSALLY ADOPTED AS THE
BASIS FOR A NEW SYSTEM OF
INTERNATIONAL TIME ZONES.
[ticking clock]
THE REASON FOR ITS ENTHUSIASTIC
ADOPTION WAS BECAUSE THE
GREENWICH OBSERVATORY PRODUCED
THE MOST ACCURATE NAUTICAL
ALMANACS USED BY MARINERS
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.
AND, AS THESE ALMANACS WERE ALL
SET WITH GREENWICH LYING ON
ZERO DEGREES OF LONGITUDE, THE
PRIME MERIDIAN, AT A STROKE,
GREAT BRITAIN BECAME THE CENTRE
OF THE WORLD.

TIME WAS NO LONGER CALIBRATED
LOCALLY BY WHEN THE SUN WAS AT
ITS HIGHEST; IT WAS SET
ASTRONOMICALLY AT GREENWICH.

[ticking clocks]
Black and white clips show people walking around a busy English street. Horse-drawn carriages trot along the roads.

Marcus says BUT WHILE GREENWICH TIME HAD
GONE INTERNATIONAL, FOR MOST
PEOPLE, ACTUALLY GETTING YOUR
HANDS ON THE CORRECT TIME WAS
STILL A CHALLENGE.
AND FOR BUSINESSES, THIS WAS
FAST BECOMING A PROBLEM.
AND ONE FAMILY REALIZED A
CUNNING WAY TO EXPLOIT THIS
NEED.
EVERY WEEK, JOHN HENRY BELVILLE
WOULD COME UP THE HILL HERE TO
GREENWICH AND SET HIS
CHRONOMETER TO THE CORRECT
TIME.
AND THEN HE'D GO BACK DOWN TO
LONDON TO SELL THE RIGHT TIME
TO WATCHMAKERS AND BUSINESSES.

BY THE 1940s, THANKS TO THE
RADIO AND CHEAP CLOCKS AND
WATCHES, WE COULD ALL RUN ON
TIME.
TIME WAS MONEY.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE, BUSINESS,
AND TRAVEL WERE ALL THRIVING.

Black and white clips show hundreds of people dressed in suits walking down crowded streets. Car factories full people assembling cars and an airplane factory where parts of planes are fitted together.

Marcus continues
AS THE WORLD EMBRACED GREENWICH
TIME, OUR JOURNEY TOWARDS
GLOBALIZATION STARTED.
WHILE UNIVERSAL TIME WAS
TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD,
THE SAME COULD NOT BE
SAID FOR THE METRE.

Now, Marcus is on a large orange and blue ferry. A caption reads, "New York, United States."

He continues
17 COUNTRIES HAD
ENTHUSIASTICALLY SIGNED UP TO
THE HISTORIC METRE CONVENTION;
BUT IN PRACTICE, FEW HAD
ENFORCED IT.
AND THE MUDDLE OF DIFFERENT
MEASUREMENTS CONTINUED, WITH
STANDARDS AND GAUGES DIFFERING
FROM TOWN TO TOWN AND EVEN
FACTORY TO FACTORY, WHICH WAS
TO HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES HERE
IN THE UNITED STATES.

The screen turns to black. A moment later, fire streams across the screen. It ravages through a large city.

Marcus continues
WHEN A HUGE FIRE RIPPED THROUGH
THE AMERICAN CITY OF BALTIMORE
IN 1904, A DISASTER OF EPIC
PROPORTIONS WAS UNFOLDING.
AS FIRE CREWS FROM THE NEARBY
CITIES OF WASHINGTON AND NEW
YORK RUSHED TO THE SCENE, ALL
THEY COULD DO WAS SIT AND WATCH
THE INFERNO ENGULF THE CITY.

Black and white images flash of firemen standing in the streets as the buildings stand ablaze.

Marcus continues
NONE OF THEIR FIRE HOSES WOULD
FIT BALTIMORE'S FIRE HYDRANTS.
DESPITE BEING LESS THAN 200
MILES APART, ALL THE FIRE CREWS
WERE USING DIFFERENT SIZED
EQUIPMENT.
THE FIRE RAGED OUT OF CONTROL
FOR TWO DAYS, DESTROYING 1,500
HOMES.

Several black and white images flash of people standing in front of burnt down buildings.
[ferry horn blasts]

Marcus continues
LENGTH MEASUREMENT NEEDED TO BE
STANDARDIZED, AND FAST.
NIST, AMERICA'S MEASUREMENT
BODY, STARTED CAMPAIGNING FOR
BETTER STANDARDS.

Images flash of the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the U.S. mint.

Marcus continues
SPURRED ON BY THE NIST
CAMPAIGN, AMERICAN
INDUSTRIALISTS SOON REALIZED
THAT THEY COULD CAPITALIZE ON
IMPROVEMENTS IN ACCURACY.
HENRY FORD STARTED
COMMISSIONING INCREASINGLY
ACCURATE GAUGES AND MEASURES.

A photo of Henry Ford is superimposed on the façade of a building. He is clean-shaven and in his fifties with neatly parted white hair. He wears a black suit with a white undershirt and tie.

Marcus continues
PRECISE AND STANDARDIZED
MEASUREMENT MEANT THAT MASS
PRODUCTION WAS POSSIBLE.
AT THE SAME TIME, STRICT
PATTERNS OF SHIFT WORK TIED
THEIR WORKFORCES TO THE CLOCK.

A black and white clip shows hundreds of workers on a car assembly line putting pieces of cars together.

Marcus continues
IT WAS THE DAWN OF THE MODERN
AGE.
FOR THE FIRST TIME, MILLIONS OF
IDENTICAL PARTS COULD BE
PRODUCED AT RAPID SPEED AND
MINIMAL COST.
THE AMERICAN BOOM WAS UNDERWAY.

The black and white clip continues to play.

A narrator says AND WHEN YOU SEE
INSPECTORS CHECKING PARTS
FOR ACCURACY TO DIMENSIONS
MEASURED IN 10,000th OF AN INCH
YOU SEE WHERE QUANTITY
PRODUCTION OF QUALITY PRODUCTS
ACTUALLY BEGINS, BECAUSE PARTS
MUST FIT TOGETHER PERFECTLY.

Marcus says IT WOULD PROVIDE A
PROFOUND LESSON TO THE WORLD:
PRECISE MEASUREMENT HAD THE
POWER TO CHANGE THE FORTUNES OF
A NATION.
BUT THE PROBLEM WITH ANY
TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH IS
NO ONE QUITE KNOWS WHERE IT
WILL LEAD.
IT TOOK THE PARANOIA OF THE
COLD WAR AND THE RESULTING ARMS
RACE TO TRIGGER THE NEXT BIG
LEAP IN LENGTH MEASUREMENT, AND
IT LED US FURTHER THAN WE EVER
THOUGHT POSSIBLE.

A black and white clip shows a rocket taking off. A moment later, President Kennedy appears on a T.V. set. He is clean-shaved, in his forties with neatly styled hair. He wears a black suit, white shirt, and tie.

President Kennedy says BUT
HISTORY AND OUR OWN CONSCIENCE
WILL JUDGE US HARSHLY IF WE DO
NOT NOW MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO
TEST OUR HOPES BY ACTION.

Marcus says THE STAKES WERE
RISING, BUT OUR LEVEL OF
ACCURACY WAS FAILING TO KEEP UP
WITH OUR ASPIRATIONS.

A black and white clip shows women in an assembly line putting together machines.

Marcus continues
UP TO THE 1960s, WE COULD
MEASURE WITH AN ACCURACY OF ONE
TEN-MILLIONTH OF A METRE.
BUT AN ERROR OF THIS MAGNITUDE
IN THE COMPONENTS OF A ROCKET
NAVIGATION SYSTEM WOULD MEAN
MISSING THE MOON BY 4,000
MILES.
NOW, THE CHALLENGE WAS TO
IMPROVE THE ACCURACY 100-FOLD.

A clip shows President Kennedy standing behind a podium in front of a large crowd of people.

President Kennedy says WE CHOOSE
TO GO TO THE MOON IN THIS
DECADE AND DO THE OTHER THINGS,
NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE EASY, BUT
BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD, BECAUSE
THAT GOAL WILL SERVE TO
ORGANIZE AND MEASURE THE BEST
OF OUR ENERGIES AND SKILLS.

Marcus says THE METRE BAR WAS NO
LONGER ACCURATE ENOUGH.
A NEW AND MORE PRECISE WAY OF
MEASURING LENGTH WAS NEEDED,
AND THE ANSWER LAY IN THE
FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES OF THE
UNIVERSE.
IT WAS THE DAWN OF THE QUANTUM
AGE.

A clip shows the Milky Way swirling in space. A moment later a clip shows an atomic bomb going off causing waves to ripple in the nearby ocean.
[sirens wailing]
[traffic din]
The scene shows New York City at night.

Marcus stands at the side of a street and says SINCE THE 1870s, THERE HAD BEEN
A GROWING DESIRE TO TAKE
MEASUREMENT AWAY FROM EARTHLY
CONSTANTS LIKE THE
CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE GLOBE OR
THE LENGTH OF THE DAY...
[crashing wave, thunderclaps]
AND TO TIE MEASUREMENT TO THE
FUNDAMENTAL AND UNCHANGING LAWS
OF NATURE, THINGS LIKE THE
SPEED OF LIGHT OR THE CHARGE ON
A SINGLE ELECTRON.
IT WAS SCOTTISH GENIUS JAMES
CLERK MAXWELL WHO FIRST
SUGGESTED THAT THESE UNIVERSAL
CONSTANTS COULD HOLD THE KEY TO
MORE PRECISE MEASUREMENT.
CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE THE
19th CENTURY'S MOST INFLUENTIAL
PHYSICIST, MAXWELL'S THEORIES
WOULD CHANGE THE COURSE OF
MEASUREMENT HISTORY.
HE SAID AT THE TIME, "IF THEN
WE WISH TO OBTAIN STANDARDS
WHICH SHALL BE ABSOLUTELY
PERMANENT, WE MUST SEEK THEM
NOT IN THE DIMENSIONS OR
MOTION OF OUR PLANET, BUT IN
THE WAVELENGTH, THE PERIOD OF
VIBRATION, AND THE ABSOLUTE
MASS OF THESE IMPERISHABLE AND
UNALTERABLE AND PERFECTLY
SIMILAR MOLECULES."

A clip of electron revolving around a nucleus plays.

Marcus continues
MAXWELL'S IDEA WAS AS
REVOLUTIONARY AS THE DECISION A
CENTURY EARLIER TO TAKE LENGTH
MEASUREMENT AWAY FROM THE HUMAN
BODY AND BASE IT ON THE EARTH.
MAXWELL CHANGED THE DIRECTION
OF THE SCIENCE OF MEASUREMENT.

The scene changes to a man sitting in a lab. He is in his sixties with grey hair and a mustache. He wears glasses, a grey sweater, and a white undershirt. A caption reads, "Richard Davis: International Bureau of Weights and Measures."

Richard Davis says MAXWELL, IT'S
HARD TO OVERESTIMATE THE
INFLUENCE HE HAD ON SCIENTIFIC
THOUGHT IN THE 19th CENTURY.

A black and white photograph flashes on the screen. It shows Maxwell in his thirties with a bushy beard.

Richard continues
IT WAS A VERY INFLUENTIAL IDEA
HE HAD.
AND HE SAID, WELL, WE SHOULD BE
MEASURING LENGTH IN TERMS OF
THE WAVELENGTH OF A COLOUR OF
LIGHT.
BUT EVEN HE COULDN'T FIGURE OUT
HOW TO REALLY DO IT TO THE
ACCURACY THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED
TO REPLACE THE OLD METRE
DEFINITION.

Marcus says MAXWELL WAS NEVER
ABLE TO TURN HIS DREAM OF USING
THE WAVELENGTH OF LIGHT TO
MEASURE DISTANCE INTO REALITY
BECAUSE THE TECHNOLOGY TO
ACHIEVE IT SIMPLY DIDN'T EXIST.
BUT HIS IDEAS WERE
REVOLUTIONARY.

The scene changes to the outside of a large white building with long windows around its façade. A caption reads, "International Bureau of Weights and Measures."

Marcus continues
IT WASN'T UNTIL DECADES LATER A
SCIENTIST AT THE BIPM - THE
SAME PLACE WHERE THE WORLD'S
MASTER METRE BAR IS HELD -
WOULD START TO BRING MAXWELL'S
VISION TO LIFE.
ALBERT MICHELSON BEGAN TO
DESIGN AND BUILD MACHINES
CALLED INTERFEROMETERS THAT
WOULD ACTUALLY MEASURE THE
WAVELENGTH OF DIFFERENT LIGHT
SOURCES.

An image shows a long machine with two main rods connected to dials. Fixed on top of each rod are small mirrors.

Marcus is shown in a room with the machine. He stands next to Richard Davis, a man in his sixties with grey hair and a grey mustache. Richard wears glasses, a long-sleeved grey shirt, a brown belt, and khaki pants.

Marcus says SO, THIS IS ONE OF MICHELSON'S
ORIGINAL INTERFEROMETERS.
WHAT WAS HE USING IT FOR AND
HOW DID HE USE IT?

Richard Davis says WELL, HE
WANTED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT IT
WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO MEASURE A
WAVELENGTH OF LIGHT, BECAUSE
LIGHT TRAVELS IN WAVES.
AND THEN, IN A FUTURE TIME,
DEFINE THE METRE IN TERMS OF
THIS WAVELENGTH OF LIGHT.

A black and white clip shows an old Michelson conducting experiments with his interferometer.

Marcus says WAVELENGTHS OF LIGHT
ARE INVISIBLE TO THE HUMAN EYE.
MICHELSON'S GENIUS WAS
REALIZING THAT WHEN LIGHT IS
SPLIT AND THEN RECOMBINED, IT
FORMS A UNIQUE PATTERN CALLED
INTERFERENCE THAT CAN BE USED
TO COUNT WAVELENGTHS.
SO, BY COUNTING HOW MANY GOING
FROM LIGHT TO DARK, LIGHT TO
DARK, TAKE A METRE, DIVIDE BY
THE NUMBER OF THOSE, YOU'LL GET
THE WAVELENGTH OF LIGHT -
SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN'T SEE
WITH YOUR NAKED EYE.

Richard Davis says RIGHT, WHAT HE
HAD TO DO WAS BUILD UP FROM A
WAVELENGTH OF LIGHT TO A METRE,
AND IN A HALF A MILLIMETRE,
THERE ARE ABOUT...
MORE THAN 1,000 WAVELENGTHS.

Marcus says EXTRAORDINARY.
IT WAS THE BREAKTHROUGH THAT
WAS TO CHANGE THE DESTINY OF
THE METRE.

Now, Marcus walks outside BIPM.

He continues
AFTER OVER HALF A CENTURY OF
LABOURIOUS RESEARCH, SCIENTISTS
WERE READY.
MAXWELL'S DREAM WAS ABOUT TO
BECOME A REALITY.
ON FRIDAY, THE 14th OF OCTOBER,
1960, DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE
GLOBE, FROM RUSSIA AND AMERICA,
GATHERED HERE AT THE GROUNDS OF
THE BIPM.

An image shows the entrance of the BIPM. A black and white image of delegates appear in front of the door.

Marcus continues
THE FATE OF THE METRE WAS IN
THE BALANCE.
AT SIX O'CLOCK THAT EVENING, TO
MUCH APPLAUSE, THE METRE WAS
REDEFINED IN TERMS OF THE
NUMBER OF WAVELENGTHS OF LIGHT
EMITTED BY A SPECIAL KRYPTON
LAMP.
FINALLY, THE METRE BAR WAS
CONSIGNED TO HISTORY.
BUT I DON'T THINK THOSE FRENCH
REVOLUTIONARIES WHO FIRST CAME
UP WITH THE IDEA OF THE METRE
WOULD BE TOO DISAPPOINTED,
BECAUSE IT WAS REALLY REALIZING
THEIR DREAM OF TYING THE METRE
TO SOMETHING UNCHANGING AND
UNIVERSAL.

Images flash of the Earth revolving around the sun, the sun rising in the horizon, and a beam showing the colours of the rainbow.

Marcus says DISTANCE COULD BE MEASURED
ACCURATELY USING A UNIVERSAL
CONSTANT: THE WAVELENGTH OF
LIGHT.
BUT HOW COULD WE PUT THIS NEW
SCIENCE INTO PRACTICE?
THAT WOULD NEED THE HELP OF A
PROJECT CODE NAMED LASER.

Images flash of red and green laser beams criss-crossing the screen. A green beam spells out the word laser.

Marcus continues
IT WAS THE BRAINCHILD OF
CALIFORNIAN THEODORE MAIMAN.

A clip plays of Theodore Maiman sitting behind a desk. He opens up a plastic case containing a small, silver, cylinder and spiral-shaped glass. He is in his forties with black hair. He wears a black suit, a white shirt, and a red tie.

Theodore Maiman says WELL, THIS
DEVICE HAPPENS TO BE
THE
ORIGINAL LASER.

Marcus says THE BEAUTY OF THE
LASER IS THAT IT IS LIGHT OF A
PRECISE, FIXED WAVELENGTH.
BY BOUNCING THIS BEAM OFF AN
OBJECT AND PRECISELY MEASURING
THE TIME IT TAKES TO BOUNCE
BACK, SUDDENLY WE COULD MEASURE
DISTANCES WITH INCREDIBLE
PRECISION.
WITHIN YEARS, THE LASER WAS
HELPING US TO MEASURE OUR WORLD
IN WAYS WE NEVER THOUGHT
POSSIBLE, AND THERE WAS NO
BETTER ILLUSTRATION OF THIS
THAN THE APOLLO 11 LUNAR
LANDINGS.

A clip shows a white rocket taking off.
[rocket engines engaging]
Now a clip plays of moon. An astronaut is shown walking across the moon’s surface.

Neil Armstrong says ONE SMALL
STEP FOR MAN; ONE GIANT LEAP
FOR MANKIND.

Marcus says WHEN NEIL ARMSTRONG
AND BUZZ ALDRIN LANDED ON THE
SEA OF TRANQUILITY MORE THAN 40
YEARS AGO ON THE 21st OF JULY
1969, THEY LEFT A MIRROR ON THE
MOON'S SURFACE.

A black and white photograph shows a large square mirror sitting on the moon.

Marcus continues
WHEN ASTRONOMERS LATER FIRED A
LASER PULSE AT IT, MAIMAN'S
INVENTION WAS ALSO ABOUT TO
MAKE HISTORY.
THE BEAM TOOK JUST 2.5 SECONDS
TO REFLECT BACK TO EARTH.

A clip shows a green laser beam connecting the Earth and the moon. The moon then revolves around the Earth repeatedly.

Marcus continues
FOR THE FIRST TIME, SCIENTISTS
COULD CALCULATE THE DISTANCE TO
THE MOON AT ANY PHASE OF ITS
ORBIT TO AN ACCURACY OF THREE
CENTIMETRES.

Clips flash of supermarket check-out lanes and Ophthalmology machines.

Marcus continues LASER CHANGED EVERYTHING.
THEY MADE SCIENTISTS RE-THINK
WHAT WAS POSSIBLE.
WE COULD MEASURE DISTANCE WITH
EXTRAORDINARY PRECISION.
DISTANCE WAS TIED TO A
UNIVERSAL, UNCHANGING CONSTANT,
BUT TIME WAS NOT.
THE SECOND WAS STILL BASED ON
THE ROTATION OF THE EARTH,
WHICH IS ACTUALLY RATHER
VARIABLE.

A clip shows the Earth revolving around its axis.

Marcus says FINDING A BETTER WAY OF
DEFINING TIME WAS TO COME FROM
AN UNEXPECTED QUARTER.
JUST A FEW YEARS BEFORE THAT
LANDMARK 1960 MEETING IN PARIS,
AN ENGLISH SCIENTIST CALLED
LOUIS ESSEN WAS WORKING HERE AT
THE U.K.'S NATIONAL PHYSICAL
LABORATORY.

A black and white photograph shows a forty-year old Essen sitting behind a desk holding a pen. He is balding and wears glasses and a dark suit with a white shirt and tie.
The scene changes to the outside of the National Physical Laboratory. It is a massive building composed primarily of large windows.

Marcus says HIS PASSION WAS PRECISION
TIMEKEEPING, AND HE WAS
BEGINNING WORK ON A NEW
GENERATION OF CLOCK: THE ATOMIC
CLOCK.

A black and white clip shows Louis standing in front of a large machine composed of beams, gears, and lasers.

Louis Essen says WE'VE SET OUR
QUARTZ CLOCKS TO KEEP TIME WITH
THE ROTATION OF THE EARTH.
BUT FOR SOME OF OUR MODERN
PROBLEMS, THIS IS NOT QUITE
ACCURATE ENOUGH, AND NOW WE'RE
SETTING OUR QUARTZ TO KEEP TIME
WITH THE VIBRATIONS OF THE
ATOM.

Marcus says THE THEORY WAS TO
DEFINE TIME THROUGH THE
VIBRATION OF INDIVIDUAL ATOMS.
ACROSS THE ATLANTIC, THE
AMERICANS, AT THEIR NATIONAL
LABORATORY, WERE ALREADY
PUSHING FORWARD WITH A
WELL-FUNDED PROGRAM.

Black and white photos flash of scientists working in laboratories.

Marcus continues
BACK IN BRITAIN, ESSEN WAS
STRUGGLING.
THERE WAS LITTLE ENTHUSIASM FOR
HIS CLOCK PROJECT, AND FUNDING
WAS ALWAYS A PROBLEM.
HIS FIRST EXPERIMENT IMPLODED,
DESTROYING MUCH OF HIS
EQUIPMENT.
BUT IN A CLASSIC STORY OF THE
UNDERDOG WINNING THROUGH, ESSEN
EVENTUALLY CREATED THE WORLD'S
FIRST WORKING ATOMIC CLOCK.
IT WAS CALLED THE CAESIUM 1,
AND IT WAS ACCURATE TO ONE
SECOND IN 300 YEARS.
THE SECOND WAS NO LONGER BASED
ON THE MOVEMENT OF OUR PLANET;
TIME WAS NOW LOCKED TO THE
BEATING HEART OF A CAESIUM
ATOM, A MOVEMENT THAT WAS
UNCHANGING AND FUNDAMENTAL
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

Now, Marcus walks into a large room filled with wires and machines.

He says IN BRITAIN, THE LATEST
INCARNATION OF ESSEN'S ATOMIC
CLOCK IS THE CSF2.
IT'S ONE OF A GLOBAL NETWORK OF
ATOMIC CLOCKS THAT SETS OUR
TIME.
TO MOST PEOPLE, THIS DOESN'T
LOOK LIKE A CLOCK AT ALL, SO
HOW DOES IT ACTUALLY MEASURE
TIME?

He stands next to Peter Whibberley, a man in his early forties. He is clean-shaven with short, black hair. He wears glasses, a blue shirt, black belt, and black pants.

Peter says WELL, WHAT
WE'RE DOING HERE IS USING
LASERS TO SLOW DOWN CAESIUM
ATOMS.
WE FORM A CLOUD OF VERY SLOWLY
MOVING CAESIUM ATOMS, AND THEN
WE USE THE LASERS TO THROW THAT
CLOUD UPWARDS THROUGH AN
ENCLOSURE CONTAINING
MICROWAVES.
THEN THEY FALL BACK THROUGH IT
A SECOND TIME UNDER GRAVITY.
WHEN THE ATOMS CHANGE FROM ONE
ENERGY LEVEL TO ANOTHER, THEY
EMIT OR ABSORB ONE VERY PRECISE
FREQUENCY, AND WE CAN USE THAT
FREQUENCY TO KEEP TRACK OF
TIME.
WE SIMPLY COUNT UP THE
OSCILLATIONS.

A clip shows an electron vibrating in its orbital. Suddenly, it jumps to another energy level.

Marcus says SO, IT'S THE NUMBER
OF OSCILLATIONS THAT WILL
DEFINE THE LENGTH OF A SECOND,
AND THOSE OSCILLATIONS ARE A
PARTICULAR PROPERTY OF THAT
CAESIUM ATOM.

Peter Whibberley says THAT'S
RIGHT, YES; SO, ANY CAESIUM
ATOM ALWAYS HAS THE SAME NUMBER
OF OSCILLATIONS PER SECOND.

Marcus says THE OSCILLATIONS OF
THESE CAESIUM ATOMS ARE THE
TICKING OF THE CLOCK, AND THEY
GIVE THE CSF2 ACCURACY TO ONE
SECOND IN 138 MILLION YEARS.
IT'S A DEGREE OF PRECISION OUR
ANCESTORS COULD NEVER HAVE
IMAGINED.
THE GENIUS OF MAXWELL,
MICHELSON, AND ESSEN NOW TOUCH
EVERY PART OF OUR LIVES.
THEY COULD NEVER HAVE GUESSED
THEIR WORK WOULD ONE DAY BE AT
THE CENTRE OF EVERYTHING FROM
OUR BANKING SYSTEMS TO PHONES,
GPS, AND THE INTERNET.

Images flash of Maxwell, Michelson, and laser beams.

Marcus continues
THESE ONLY EXIST BECAUSE OF THE
ACCURACY OF ATOMIC CLOCKS AND
THEIR ABILITY TO SYNCHRONIZE
TIME ACROSS THE PLANET.
MEASUREMENT HAS TAKEN US IN
DIRECTIONS WE COULD NEVER HAVE
DREAMT POSSIBLE.

BUT THE STORY DOESN'T END
THERE.
IN ONE LAST TWIST, SCIENTISTS
LOOKED AT THE METRE AGAIN, AND
REALIZED THAT THEY COULD NOW
REDEFINE LENGTH USING THE NEW
ACCURACY OF THE SECOND.

Clips flash of the New York City skyline, sundials, and the Great Pyramids.

Marcus says IT WAS 1983, AND IN A
COLLABORATION BETWEEN DIFFERENT
MEASUREMENT LABS ACROSS THE
WORLD, ATOMIC CLOCKS MEASURED
THE SPEED OF LIGHT WITH
INCREDIBLE PRECISION.
THE METRE COULD FINALLY BE
DEFINED BY HOW FAR LIGHT
TRAVELS IN A TINY FRACTION OF A
SECOND.
TIME AND LENGTH WERE INTIMATELY
INTERTWINED.

Now, Marcus stands in front of the Great Pyramids.

He says WE'VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE THE
DAYS OF THE PHARAOHS, WHEN TIME
WAS DEFINED BY THE LENGTH OF A
SHADOW.
AFTER 3,000 YEARS, TIME AND
DISTANCE ARE ONCE AGAIN LINKED,
JOINED TOGETHER BY ONE OF THE
MOST FUNDAMENTAL AND UNIVERSAL
CONSTANTS OF NATURE: THE SPEED
OF LIGHT.

Now Marcus stands on the streets of London.

Marcus says DESPITE ALL THE GREAT ADVANCES
IN TIME AND LENGTH MEASUREMENT,
THE QUEST IS STILL ON.
SCIENTISTS ARE TRYING TO CREATE
EVER MORE ACCURATE CLOCKS,
CLOCKS THAT WILL ONLY LOSE ONE
SECOND IN THE LIFETIME OF THE
UNIVERSE.
AND ONCE THEY'RE DEPLOYED, WE
CAN ONLY BEGIN TO IMAGINE HOW
IT'S GOING TO CHANGE OUR WORLD:
INSTANT COMMUNICATION, QUANTUM
COMPUTERS, PLANES THAT CAN LAND
THEMSELVES; SCIENCE FICTION
WILL BECOME A REALITY.
AND THAT'S THE BEAUTY OF
MEASUREMENT; EVERY LEAP IN
PRECISION, FROM THE CUBIT ROD
TO THE ATOMIC CLOCK, HAS LED TO
A TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION.
THROUGH HISTORY, MEASUREMENT
HAS CHANGED EVERY ASPECT OF OUR
LIVES.
SPLITTING THE YEAR INTO SEASONS
AND LUNAR CYCLES ALLOWED MAN TO
PLAN AHEAD FOR THE FIRST TIME
AND GAIN ADVANTAGE OVER THE
REST OF NATURE.

Images flash of the ancient cave paintings, the moon, and the Egyptian sundial.

Marcus says DIVIDING THE DAY STILL FURTHER
INTO 24 HOURS WAS THE BEDROCK
FOR CIVILIZATION.
THE FIXED HOUR CONTROLLED THE
WORKING DAY.
[bell rings]
AND UNIFORM NATIONAL AND
INTERNATIONAL TIME ALLOWED THE
GLOBALIZATION OF INDUSTRY.
THE WORLD WOULD NEVER BE THE
SAME.
THE STORY OF MEASUREMENT HAS
SHAPED AND CHANGED OUR HISTORY,
AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO AS
WE DELVE DEEPER INTO THE ATOMIC
FABRIC OF THE UNIVERSE IN
SEARCH OF GREATER PRECISION.

A clip shows the Earth revolving around its axis.

Now a clip shows Marcus looking into a safe full of glasses containers. Inside each one container is a smaller version of itself.

He says NEXT TIME, I MEET THE BIGGEST
PROBLEM IN MEASUREMENT: THE
KILOGRAM.
THIS 19th CENTURY ARTIFACT IS
THE WORLD'S MASTER KILO, AND
IT'S LOSING WEIGHT.
NOW, A HEAD-TO-HEAD RACE IS ON
TO REPLACE IT.
AS THE BEST MINDS IN
MEASUREMENT SCIENCE FIGHT IT
OUT, THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE
WINNER.

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

Director: Mike Cunliffe.
Producer: Mark Woodward.

A logo reads, "A Big Wave Production for BBC."

Watch: Ep. 1 - Time and distance