Transcript: Ep. 3 - Heat, Light and Electricity | Oct 15, 2013

A black and white photograph of 1800s New York flashes on the screen followed by a clip of a furnace and another black and white photograph of people working in a factory.

Marcus du So-toy says FEBRUARY
4th, 1850: WORK WAS JUST
STARTING AT THE HAGUE STREET
PRINTING PRESS IN NEW YORK
CITY.
BUT IN THE BASEMENT,
TEMPERATURES INSIDE THEIR
COAL-FIRED BOILER WERE REACHING
DANGEROUS LEVELS.
[steam hissing]
A FORCE OF NATURE WAS
STRUGGLING TO BREAK FREE.

[violent explosion]
A clip shows a wall bursting open. Flames flow out of the opening in waves.

Marcus continues
AT 7:45, A HUGE EXPLOSION TORE
THE BUILDING APART.
DOZENS WERE KILLED AND MANY
MORE INJURED.

Newspaper clippings and images of burned down buildings flash across the screen.

Marcus says THE BOILER HAD OVERHEATED AND
EXPLODED.

Now Marcus is shown walking on the top level of a building. He is surrounded by large metallic wheels and levers spinning around. Marcus is bald, clean-shaven, and in his late forties. He wears blue jeans, and a red, long-sleeved shirt.

Marcus continues
DISASTERS LIKE THIS WERE
HAPPENING DAILY DURING THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.
WE'D BEGUN TO HARNESS ENERGY,
BUT WE WERE STRUGGLING TO
CONTROL IT WITH ANY PRECISION.
IT'S PERHAPS NOT SURPRISING.

Clips flash of a boiler, an oil refinery, and the Earth.

Marcus continues
AFTER ALL, WHAT IS ENERGY?
SUCH AN INTANGIBLE THING TO
MEASURE AND UNDERSTAND.
IN THIS SERIES, I'VE BEEN
EXPLORING HOW WE USE
MEASUREMENT TO QUANTIFY EVERY
ASPECT OF OUR WORLD, CREATING
A SYSTEM OF SEVEN FUNDAMENTAL
UNITS WHICH HAVE BECOME THE
BUILDING BLOCKS OF MODERN
SCIENCE.

Clips flash of scientists conducting experiments and cityscapes at night.

Marcus continues
FROM TIME AND DISTANCE TO
TEMPERATURE AND MASS, I WANT TO
UNDERSTAND HOW WE'VE IMPOSED
ORDER ON THE UNIVERSE WITH
THESE BASIC UNITS OF
MEASUREMENT, AND HOW THROUGH
HISTORY EACH STEP FORWARD IN
PRECISION HAS UNLEASHED A
TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION.
THIS PROGRAM IS ALL ABOUT
ENERGY, A DIFFICULT AND
DANGEROUS FORCE THAT COMES IN
MANY FORMS.

[thunder crashing]
Fast clips show a lightning storm, a man typing on a telegraph, a radio tower, and the Milky War.

Marcus continues
THE QUEST TO DESCRIBE THIS
MYSTERIOUS POWER WITH A FEW
SIMPLE UNITS HAS BEEN A
CHALLENGE FOR THE GREATEST OF
MINDS.
BUT IT HAS ALSO HAD THE MOST
PROFOUND CONSEQUENCES FOR THE
WAY WE LIVE.
THIS IS THE STORY OF LIGHT,
HEAT, AND ELECTRICITY.

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. Light, Heat, and Electricity."

The episode opens with clouds passing the sun. A moment later, a satellite is shown hovering in space followed by an aerial view of ice shelves. A caption flashes across the screen. It reads, "Presented by Marcus du So-toy."

Marcus says HUNDREDS OF KILOMETRES ABOVE
OUR HEADS, A FLEET OF
SATELLITES WATCH OVER THE
EARTH.
WHAT THEY CAN DO SEEMS ALMOST
MAGICAL, BEYOND BELIEF.
THEY CAN MEASURE THE THICKNESS
OF SEA ICE WITH MILLIMETRE
ACCURACY...
MEASURE THE TEMPERATURE OF OUR
OCEANS OR THE SUBSIDENCE OF
YOUR HOUSE.
AND ALL OF THIS ONLY POSSIBLE
BECAUSE OF OUR PRECISE ABILITY
TO MEASURE ENERGY.

Fast clips show satellites in space, radio towers on the ground, a thermographic image of the Earth, and X-rays of various human skulls.

Marcus continues
HARNESSING THE POWER OF LIGHT,
HEAT, AND ELECTRICITY HAS
TRANSFORMED OUR LIVES IN WAYS
NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED.
BUT HOW DID WE LEARN TO MEASURE
ENERGY WITH SUCH PRECISION?
UNTIL THE LATE 17th CENTURY, NO
ONE REALLY UNDERSTOOD ANYTHING
ABOUT ENERGY.
HEAT WAS CONSIDERED A STRANGE,
INVISIBLE FLUID...

Clips show lightning flashing and thunder booming.

Marcus continues
ELECTRICITY, A FRIGHTENING AND
INCOMPREHENSIBLE FORCE OF
NATURE...
AND LIGHT, SOMETHING GOD GIVEN,
SHONE DOWN FROM THE HEAVENS AND
RIPENED OUR CROPS.

[An opera plays]

People sing
GLORIA, GLORIA

GLORIA, GLORIA

Marcus continues
IT TOOK THE BRILLIANCE OF
ISAAC NEWTON TO REVOLUTIONIZE
THE UNDERSTANDING OF ENERGY,
MAKING THE INTANGIBLE TANGIBLE,
AND IT STARTED WITH LIGHT.

A black and white image of Isaac Newton flashes on the screen. He is in his forties, clean-shaven, with long and wavy white hair. A moment later, Marcus is shown walking past large stone buildings. A caption reads, "Woolst-horpe Manor: Lincolnshire."

Marcus continues
THE YEAR WAS 1665, AND, AS THE
PLAGUE TOOK HOLD OF BRITAIN,
NEWTON FLED HIS ROOMS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE FOR THE
SAFETY OF HIS COUNTRY RETREAT.
HE CAME HERE TO WOOLSTHORPE
MANOR IN LINCOLNSHIRE.
AND IT'S HERE THAT IT'S THOUGHT
THAT HE CAME UP WITH A SERIES
OF EXPERIMENTS THAT WOULD
CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT
LIGHT FOREVER.

Marcus holds up a small glass prism and says AT THE TIME OF NEWTON'S
EXPERIMENTS, IT WAS WELL KNOWN
THAT IF YOU PASS LIGHT THROUGH
A PRISM LIKE THIS, THEN A
SPECTRUM OF COLOUR IS PRODUCED.

A rainbow of light passes through the prism.

Marcus continues
BUT WHAT MOST PEOPLE THOUGHT
WAS THAT SOMEHOW THE PRISM WAS
COLOURING THE LIGHT.
BUT NEWTON THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY.
HE WROTE IN A LETTER TO THE
ROYAL SOCIETY: "HAVING DARKENED
MY CHAMBER I MADE A SMALL
HOLE IN MY WINDOW-SHUTS TO LET
IN A CONVENIENT QUANTITY OF
THE SUN'S LIGHT.
I PLACE MY PRISM AT HIS
ENTRANCE."

An image shows Newton standing in front of a stool with a large prism on top. A small beam of light enters the prism. Now, Marcus is standing in front of a wall. A prism with light shining through it sits on a table. On the wall is a spectrum of colour.

Marcus continues
NOW, TO PROVE THAT IT ISN'T THE
PRISM THAT'S COLOURING THE
LIGHT, NEWTON HAD A BRILLIANT
IDEA.
WHAT HE DID WAS TO ISOLATE ONE
OF THE COLOURS, AND HE DID THAT
USING A SCREEN.

Marcus moves a small screen with a slit in front of the light.

Marcus continues
I'M GOING TO PICK OUT THE
GREEN.

Now, only green shines on the wall.

Marcus continues
NOW, IF IT WAS THE PRISM THAT
WAS COLOURING THE LIGHT, IF I
PUT A SECOND PRISM IN FRONT OF
THIS GREEN, IT SHOULD CHANGE
THE COLOUR.
BUT WHEN NEWTON DID THAT, WHAT
HE SAW WAS THE SAME GREEN
COLOUR ON THE WALL.
IT WASN'T THE PRISM THAT WAS
COLOURING THE LIGHT.

Marcus moves another prism in front of the green light. Another beam of green light shines on the wall.

Marcus continues
NEWTON HAD PROVED THAT IT WAS
THE SUNLIGHT THAT WAS MADE UP
OF ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT
COLOURS.
HE'D UNEARTHED THE SECRETS
BEHIND THE VISIBLE LIGHT
SPECTRUM.
HIS ACCOUNT CONTINUED.
"LIGHT IS A CONFUSED AGGREGATE
OF RAYS IMBUED WITH ALL SORTS
OF COLOURS: THE BLUE FLAME OF
BRIMSTONE, THE YELLOW FLAME OF
A CANDLE, AND THE VARIOUS
COLOURS OF THE FIXED STARS."
LIGHT WAS NOW SOMETHING THAT
COULD BE ANALYZED.
SOLVING ITS MYSTERIES WOULD
ALLOW LIGHT TO BE MANIPULATED
AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL,
MEASURED.

The scene changes to Marcus standing outside of the stone building.

Marcus continues
HYPERSENSITIVE AND EXTREMELY
SECRETIVE, FOR YEARS NEWTON
DIDN'T MENTION THE EXPERIMENT
TO ANYONE.
BUT FINALLY IN 1672, HE
SUBMITTED HIS FIRST FORMAL
PAPER ABOUT THE EXPERIMENT TO
THE ROYAL SOCIETY.
WHEN IT WAS READ TO THE
FELLOWS, IT WAS MET BOTH WITH
SINGULAR ATTENTION AND UNCOMMON
APPLAUSE.
THIS EXPERIMENT SOWED THE SEEDS
FOR THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT,
THE AGE OF SCIENCE.

A black and white drawing of Newton talking to a group of scientists flashes on the screen.

Marcus continues
WHEN NEWTON DISCOVERED THE
VISIBLE LIGHT SPECTRUM, WHAT HE
DIDN'T REALIZE WAS THAT THERE
WAS ALSO LIGHT THAT HE COULDN'T
SEE.
AND WE CALL IT INFRARED.
OVER 100 YEARS AFTER NEWTON'S
DISCOVERY, ASTRONOMER WILLIAM
HERSCHEL STUMBLED UPON THESE
INVISIBLE RAYS.

A drawing of William Herschel flashes on the screen. He is in his forties, clean-shaven with a white wig. He wears a red suit with a blue lapel. He is sitting behind a desk. A spectrum of light shines next to his hand. Near the spectrum is a wooden panel fitted with thermometers.

Marcus continues
EXPERIMENTING WITH THE VISIBLE
LIGHT SPECTRUM, HERSCHEL BEGAN
TAKING THE TEMPERATURE OF ALL
THE DIFFERENT COLOURS.
TO HIS ASTONISHMENT, WHEN HE
PLACED THE THERMOMETER BEYOND
THE RED, THE MERCURY BEGAN TO
RISE.

Now, Marcus holds up a hollow cylindrical object up to the red wave.

Marcus says SO, I'VE GOT A MUCH MORE
SENSITIVE THERMOMETER HERE,
CALLED A THERMOCOUPLE.
AND YOU CAN SEE ON THE SCREEN,
WHICH IS MEASURING THE
TEMPERATURE, THERE'S A SUDDEN
SURGE OUT BEYOND THE RED.
THERE WE GO; THERE'S THE SPIKE,
WOW!

The image changes to a screen with a green line going up and down.

Marcus continues
HERSCHEL CALLED THESE INVISIBLE
RAYS CALORIFIC RAYS, BUT WE
KNOW THEM TODAY AS INFRARED.
AND, IN FACT, ALL THE WAVES -
INFRARED, RADIO WAVES, X-RAYS,
MICROWAVES, GAMMA RAYS -
THEY'RE ALL, LIKE VISIBLE
LIGHTS, CERTAIN FORMS OF
ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION.
AND ALL OF THIS ELECTROMAGNETIC
RADIATION ARE MADE UP OF
PHOTONS OF LIGHT OF DIFFERENT
WAVELENGTHS, SOME WHICH WE CAN
SEE AND SOME WHICH WE CAN'T.
AND IT'S THE MEASUREMENT OF
THESE INVISIBLE RAYS WHICH IS
AT THE HEART OF 21st CENTURY
MEASUREMENT.
IF LIGHT IS MADE UP OF
WAVELENGTHS OF PHOTONS, WHAT IS
HEAT?
FOR MILLENNIA, THIS QUESTION
REMAINED A MYSTERY.
BUT ITS NATURE CAN BEST BE SEEN
USING A HEAT SENSITIVE CAMERA.
SO, IF I TAKE THIS PIECE OF
WOOD AND HIT IT WITH A HAMMER-

Marcus is now shown in a laboratory standing in front of a computer with an Infrared image of himself. His head shines white while the rest of his body is orange. He holds up a plank of wood with one hand and a hammer with another. On the computer screen, the hammer appears orange and the wood appears purple. He bangs the hammer on the wood repeatedly.

Marcus continues
THEN THE INFRARED CAMERA IS
PICKING UP A CHANGE IN
TEMPERATURE; IT'S GETTING
HOTTER.
SO, THE MECHANICAL ENERGY OF
THE HAMMER IS CAUSING AN
INCREASE IN HEAT.

On the computer screen, a light purple mark appears where the hammer hit the wood.

Marcus continues
TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING
IN THE WOOD, I'VE COME TO MEET
HEAT EXPERT MICHAEL DE PODESTA.

The scene changes to a large white sign with blue writing. It reads, "N.P.L. National Physical Laboratory." The image changes to the inside of a laboratory with microscopes and computer screens. Marcus stands next to Michael de Podesta. He is in his fifties with greying hair and a mustache. He wears glasses, a blue polo, and black jeans.

Michael de Podesta says HEAT IS
THE MOTION OF MOLECULES.
EVERYTHING AROUND YOU RIGHT
NOW, INSIDE IT, THE ATOMS AND
MOLECULES ARE MOVING VERY, VERY
FAST.
EACH OF THOSE FAT GLOBULES IS
BEING BOMBARDED BY THE ATOMS
AROUND IT.

Marcus says OKAY, SO I CAN'T SEE
THE ATOMS, BUT WHAT I'M SEEING
IS THE EFFECT THAT THOSE ATOMS
AND THE HEAT, WHICH IS THE
MOVEMENT OF THOSE ATOMS, HAS ON
THE GLOBULES OF FAT.

On the computer screen small spheres vibrate rapidly.

Michael de Podesta says EXACTLY
SO.
HEAT IS A TYPE OF ENERGY.
IT'S THE ENERGY THAT'S TIED UP
IN THE MOTION OF THE PARTICLES,
BUT TEMPERATURE IS A MEASURE OF
THEIR SPEED.

Marcus says RIGHT.
SO, ACTUALLY, WHEN I TOUCH
SOMETHING, AND I'M ACTUALLY
DETECTING HOW HOT IT IS, WHAT
I'M REALLY DETECTING IS HOW
FAST THE MOLECULES ARE MOVING
ON THE SURFACE.

Michael de Podesta says THAT IS
EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DETECTING.
IT'S ASTONISHING.

Marcus says TO GET TO THIS
MOLECULAR UNDERSTANDING OF
TEMPERATURE, WE FIRST HAD TO GO
THROUGH HUNDREDS OF YEARS OF
EXPERIMENTATION AND INVENTION.
AND IT ALL STARTED IN
RENAISSANCE ITALY IN THE 16th
CENTURY.

The image changes to the streets of Italy. A caption reads, "Florence, Italy."

Marcus continues
USING TOUCH OR SEEING HOW THE
COLOUR OF SOMETHING CHANGES AS
YOU HEAT IT UP WAS ABOUT THE
ONLY WAY WE KNEW HOW TO MEASURE
TEMPERATURE FOR THOUSANDS OF
YEARS.
AN ACCURATE TEMPERATURE
MEASUREMENT REMAINED ELUSIVE
UNTIL A BREAKTHROUGH WAS MADE
HERE IN ITALY TOWARDS THE END
OF THE 16th CENTURY.
AND THAT MOMENT CAME FROM THE
FATHER OF MODERN PHYSICS,
GALILEO GALILEI.

A marble bust of Galileo flashes on the screen. Marcus is now standing inside of a museum looking at a variety of old devices.

Marcus continues
HE REVOLUTIONIZED SO MANY
DIFFERENT AREAS: ASTRONOMY,
PHYSICS, MECHANICS, AND MY OWN
SUBJECT OF MATHEMATICS.
BUT, FOR ME, THE REALLY BIG
SURPRISE IS THAT GALILEO WAS
ONE OF THE FIRST TO COME UP
WITH A WAY OF MEASURING
TEMPERATURE.
AT THE TIME, HE WAS READING A
RECENTLY TRANSLATED TEXT BY AN
ANCIENT GREEK MATHEMATICIAN AND
ENGINEER, HERO OF ALEXANDRIA.

A black and white drawing of an old Hero flashes on the screen. He has a bushy beard and is holding a piece of parchment with sketches of small devices.

Marcus continues
AND IT'S THOUGHT THAT HERO'S
IDEAS INSPIRED GALILEO TO LOOK
AT TEMPERATURE.
GALILEO INVENTED WHAT WAS THEN
CALLED THE THERMOSCOPE.
IT WAS WILDLY INACCURATE, BUT
IT WAS THE WORLD'S FIRST
THERMOMETER.
A FRIEND OBSERVED GALILEO'S
GROUNDBREAKING EXPERIMENT.

HE TOOK A SMALL GLASS FLASK
ABOUT AS LARGE AS A SMALL HEN'S
EGG, WITH A NECK ABOUT TWO
SPANS LONG AND AS FINE AS A
WHEAT STRAW, AND WARMED THE
FLASK WELL IN HIS HAND.
WHEN HE TOOK AWAY THE HEAT OF
HIS HANDS FROM THE FLASK, THE
WATER AT ONCE BEGAN TO RISE IN
THE NECK.

Marcus holds up a small flask attached to a long, skinny glass tube and places it inside a jar of blue water. The water comes up into the tube.

Marcus continues
WHAT GALILEO WAS EXPLOITING
HERE WAS THE FACT THAT IF YOU
HEAT SOMETHING UP, LIKE AIR, IT
EXPANDS.
SO, THE LEVEL OF THE WATER GOES
DOWN.
AND IF I TAKE MY HANDS OFF AND
LET THE FLASK COOL DOWN, THEN
SUDDENLY THE LEVEL STARTS TO GO
UP AGAIN.

He places his hands on the flash. The fluid slowly exits the tube. A moment later, he takes his hands off the flask. Liquid rises into the tube.

Marcus continues
SO, SUDDENLY, WE HAD THE FIRST
WAY OF MEASURING THE
TEMPERATURE INSTEAD OF USING
OUR HANDS OR OUR EYES.
INTRIGUED BY THE PRACTICAL
POSSIBILITIES OF TEMPERATURE
MEASUREMENT, ESTEEMED PHYSICIAN
SANTORIO SANTORIO BEGAN MAKING
HIS OWN THERMOSCOPES.
HE'D NOTICED THAT WHEN HIS
PATIENTS WERE FEVERISH, THEY
FELT HOTTER THAN USUAL, AND HE
WANTED A WAY TO PROVE IT.
HE GAVE THE THERMOSCOPE A
SCALE, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME
RECORDED THE TEMPERATURE OF A
PATIENT'S MOUTH.
BUT BECAUSE IT WAS OPEN-ENDED,
IT WAS HIGHLY INACCURATE; THE
RESULTS VARYING ACCORDING TO
LOCAL AIR PRESSURE.
OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS,
FLORENCE BECAME A HOTBED FOR
THERMOMETER EXPERIMENTATION.
IN 1657, THE MEDICI FAMILY SET
UP AND FUNDED THE ACCADEMIA DEL
CIMENTO, KNOWN AS THE ACADEMY
OF EXPERIMENTATION.

A Renaissance painting flashes on the screen showing men crowded around a wooden table.

Marcus continues
THEIR MOTTO WAS, "PROVING AND
PROVING AGAIN," AND
TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT WAS
ALL THE RAGE.
IT WAS A REAL FUSION OF ART AND
SCIENCE, USING THE SKILLS OF
SOME OF THE FINEST GLASS
BLOWERS IN THE WORLD.
THERMOMETERS BECAME
INCREASINGLY ACCURATE.
WATER WAS REPLACED WITH
ALCOHOL, AND THE STEMS BECAME
SEALED.

Images flash of several glass thermometers of different sizes on a table.

Marcus continues
DESIGNER SEGREDO BUILT CIRCULAR
THERMOMETERS WITH 360
DIVISIONS, AN IDEA HE BORROWED
FROM THE ANCIENT BABYLONIANS,
WHO WERE THE FIRST TO DIVIDE
CIRCLES INTO DEGREES.
IT'S WHY TODAY WE MEASURE
TEMPERATURE IN DEGREES.

A clip of a long thermometer flashes on the screen.

Marcus continues
HAVING A THERMOMETER BECAME THE
HEIGHT OF FASHION FOR ANY
THINKING MAN.
THE INTANGIBLE HAD BECOME
TANGIBLE.
BY THE END OF THE 18th CENTURY,
WE DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND
WHAT TEMPERATURE WAS.
BUT WE DID HAVE A MEANS OF
MEASURING IT.
AS FOR LIGHT, THE OPPOSITE WAS
TRUE.
WE UNDERSTOOD WHAT IT WAS, BUT
WE COULDN'T MEASURE IT.
HOWEVER, THE STUDY OF THE OTHER
GREAT FORM OF ENERGY,
ELECTRICITY, WAS IN ITS
INFANCY.

Clips show a lightning storm. Thunder crashes.

Now, walking down an Italian street, Marcus continues
FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS,
LIGHTNING AND STRANGE TALES OF
TORPEDO RAYS WERE THE ONLY
MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS AWESOME
FORCE THAT WE KNEW ABOUT.
STRIKING FEAR INTO OUR HEARTS,
ALL WE COULD DO WAS OBSERVE ITS
BLINDING LIGHT AND ITS SEARING
HEAT.
BEFORE THE 18th CENTURY, WE HAD
LITTLE IDEA WHAT ELECTRICITY
WAS.
WE'D ONLY PUZZLE OVER THE
EFFECTS OF STATIC ELECTRICITY,
MARVEL AT THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER
OF LIGHTNING.
[thunder crashing]
SO, HOW DO WE COME TO EXPLOIT
AND MEASURE IT SO PRECISELY?
TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION, WE
HAVE TO GO BACK 300 YEARS TO A
WORLD THAT WAS DARK, COLD, AND
QUIET.
WHEN THE WORKING DAY WAS
DETERMINED BY WHEN THE SUN SET,
LETTERS WERE DELIVERED BY
HORSEBACK, ELECTRICITY WAS JUST
A SPECTACLE PERFORMED BY
SHOWMEN WHO CALLED THEMSELVES
ELECTRICIANS.
BUT THIS WAS ALSO A TIME WHEN
PEOPLE WERE BECOMING
INCREASINGLY INQUISITIVE ABOUT
THEIR WORLD.
THE 18th CENTURY WAS A
REMARKABLE PERIOD IN THE
HISTORY OF MEASUREMENT.
THIS WAS THE AGE OF THE
ENLIGHTENMENT, WHEN SCIENTISTS
WERE LOOKING AT THE WORLD
AROUND THEM WITH A KEEN EYE,
TRYING TO FIND RATIONAL
EXPLANATIONS FOR THE PHENOMENON
THAT THEY OBSERVED.
AND THE STRANGE FORCE OF
ELECTRICITY WAS COMING UNDER
SCRUTINY.
THE BREAKTHROUGH WAS MADE HERE
IN PAVIA IN NORTHERN ITALY, AND
IT WAS MADE BY A CHARISMATIC
AND BRILLIANT YOUNG SCIENTIST
CALLED ALESSANDRO VOLTA.
HE BECAME OBSESSED WITH THE
SEEMINGLY MAGICAL POWER OF
ELECTRICITY.

The scene changes to Marcus walking on the second floor of yellow building. He looks down to the atrium and sees a marble statue of Volta situated in the middle of the open space.

Marcus continues
IN A STATE OF DEEP EMOTIONAL
DISTRESS, AFTER A TORRID LOVE
AFFAIR WITH A BEAUTIFUL OPERA
SINGER CALLED MARIANNA, THE
LOVESICK VOLTA THREW HIMSELF
INTO THE INVESTIGATION
OF ANIMAL ELECTRICITY.
AND THE ANIMAL HE STUDIED WAS
THE TORPEDO RAY, A FISH CAPABLE
OF ELECTROCUTING ITS PREY.

Now, Marcus stands over a jar with a preserved specimen of a torpedo ray suspended in clear liquid. It is small with a white flat body and a long skinny tail.

Marcus continues
WHAT VOLTA WAS INTRIGUED BY
WAS, WHAT WAS IT INSIDE THE
TORPEDO RAY THAT WAS CAUSING
THIS ELECTRICAL SHOCK?
WHEN HE LOOKED INSIDE ITS
ANATOMY, WHAT HE FOUND WAS A
COLUMN OF CELLS THAT SEEMED TO
BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SHOCK,
SO THIS IS WHAT HE TRIED TO
COPY.
NOW, VOLTA MUST HAVE PLAYED
AROUND WITH MANY DIFFERENT
IDEAS, TRYING THINGS OUT;
NOTHING WORKED, UNTIL SUDDENLY
HE HAD A BREAKTHROUGH.
HIS LEAD CAME FROM THE WORK OF
LUIGI GALVANI.
ATTACHING COPPER AND IRON WIRES
TO A DEAD FROG, GALVANI
DISCOVERED THAT HE COULD MAKE
ITS LEGS TWITCH.

A drawing showing Galvani, a chubby man in his forties with brown hair, standing over a bar. Four pairs of frog legs are tied to pieces of string attached to the bar.

Marcus continues
HE BELIEVED HE'D FOUND A
STRANGE NEW FORCE INSIDE THE
FROG.
VOLTA'S BRILLIANCE WAS
REALIZING THE PHENOMENA WAS
ACTUALLY DOWN TO GALVANI'S USE
OF TWO DIFFERENT METALS.

Images flash pieces of parchment with drawings of frog legs next to calculations.

Marcus INSPIRED, HE SET ABOUT
RECREATING THE TORPEDO RAY'S
CELL COLUMN USING ALTERNATING
TYPES OF METAL.
FIRST OF ALL, HE TOOK A COPPER
METAL PLATE, PUT THAT ONE DOWN
ON THE BOTTOM OF THE PILE.
AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT, HE PUT
A METAL PLATE MADE OUT OF ZINC.
AND THEN, THE NEXT INGREDIENT
WAS A PIECE OF CARD SOAKED IN A
WEAK ACID SOLUTION.
AND THEN THAT GETS PUT ON TOP
OF THE ZINC.

Marcus takes a circular piece of brown copper and places it in front of him. Next he places a circular piece of charcoal-coloured zinc on top of it. He puts on latex gloves, picks up a circular piece of cardstock and dips it into a solution. He places it on top of the zinc plate.

Marcus continues
SO, THAT'S OUR FIRST CELL, AND
THEN HE'S GOING TO MAKE COPIES
OF THESE CELLS, BUILD UP THIS
KIND OF PILE, A LITTLE BIT LIKE
IN THE TORPEDO RAY.

Marcus repeats the pattern of plates several times. He attaches two wires to the bottom of the plates.

He continues
ANOTHER PIECE OF ACID; SO THAT
GOES ON THERE.
NOW, TO TEST THIS IDEA, WHAT HE
DID WAS TO ATTACH A WIRE TO THE
BOTTOM COPPER PLATE, ANOTHER
WIRE TO THE TOP ZINC PLATE, AND
THEN WHAT HE HOPED WAS HE'D GET
AN ELECTRICAL SHOCK IF HE
JOINED THESE TWO TOGETHER.
TO REALLY TEST IT, WHAT HE DID
WAS TO PLACE THE TWO ENDS OF
THE WIRE ON HIS TONGUE TO
ACTUALLY FEEL THE SHOCK.
SO, HOPEFULLY I HAVEN'T MADE
THIS TOO POWERFUL; LET'S TRY
THIS OUT.

He picks up the two wires. Their ends are uncovered. He presses them to his tongue.

Marcus says THERE, IT'S QUITE GENTLE, BUT
THERE IS DEFINITELY THE TASTE
OF THE FIZZ OF ELECTRICITY.
AND THE MORE CELLS I PUT ON TOP
OF THIS, THE BIGGER THE
CURRENT.
NOW, TO PROVE THAT I'M NOT JUST
ACTING, I'VE GOT A LITTLE
LIGHTBULB HERE.
SO, IF I ATTACH THIS TO ONE END
OF THE WIRE AND THEN TO THE
OTHER - THERE WE GO!
THE LIGHT LIGHTS UP.

He picks up a thimble-sized lightbulb and attaches the wires to it. The lightbulb shines.

Marcus continues
BUT WHAT'S AMAZING ABOUT THIS
IS IT'S NOT JUST A SPARK OF
STATIC ELECTRICITY OR THE SHOCK
OF THE RAY; THIS IS A GENTLE,
CONTINUOUS STREAM OF
ELECTRICITY.
THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME THIS
HAD EVER BEEN DONE.

AND THIS IS WHAT REALLY GAVE
BIRTH TO THE MODERN BATTERY.
[woman singing operatic music]
IN VOLTA'S TYPICAL
SELF-CONFIDENT AND FLAMBOYANT
WAY, HE TOURED THE LECTURE
HALLS, SHOWING OFF HIS GREAT
INVENTION.
OTHER SCIENTISTS LATCHED ON TO
THE DISCOVERY, USING THE CELLS
IN THEIR OWN EXPERIMENTS.

A painting shows a group of scientists looking at a pile of copper and zinc plates.

Marcus continues
IT WOULD TAKE HUNDREDS OF YEARS
BEFORE WE FULLY UNDERSTOOD
ELECTRICITY, BUT VOLTA HAD
BEGUN TO UNLOCK ITS SECRETS.
ELECTRICITY, LIGHT, AND HEAT
WERE NO LONGER SUPERNATURAL
FORCES BUT TANGIBLE FORMS OF
ENERGY THAT WERE ATTRACTING THE
GREATEST MINDS IN SCIENCE TO
THEIR STUDY.
AND THESE SCIENTISTS SOON
REALIZED BETTER MEASUREMENT
WOULD HOLD THE KEY TO
HARNESSING THEIR IMMENSE POWER.
BY THE TIME VOLTA WAS CREATING
THE WORLD'S FIRST CONTINUOUS
ELECTRICAL CURRENT,
THERMOMETERS HAD ALREADY BEEN
AROUND FOR 200 YEARS.
BUT READINGS VARIED DEPENDING
ON WHOSE MODEL YOU USED.

Images flash of scientists holding up old designs of thermometers.

Marcus continues
IT TOOK POLISH-BORN SCIENTIST
DANIEL FAHRENHEIT TO MAKE THE
FIRST BIG LEAP IN STANDARDIZING
TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT.
HE CHOSE MERCURY AS IT EXPANDS
MORE UNIFORMLY THAN OTHER
LIQUIDS AND IS LIQUID OVER A
WIDE TEMPERATURE RANGE.
BUT HIS REAL INNOVATION WAS TO
INTRODUCE TWO RELIABLE AND
REPRODUCIBLE FIXED TEMPERATURE
POINTS SO A SCALE COULD BE
CALIBRATED.
AT THE LOW END, HE CHOSE THE
MELTING POINT OF PURE ICE, AT
32 DEGREES, AND THE UPPER END,
96, THE TEMPERATURE OF HUMAN
BLOOD.
THIS LATER CHANGED TO THE MORE
PRACTICAL BOILING POINT OF
WATER, AT 212.
ANDERS CELSIUS SIMPLIFIED
THINGS, CHOOSING A 100-DEGREE
SCALE, BASED ON THE BOILING AND
FREEZING POINTS OF WATER.
HIS BRILLIANCE WAS TO CALIBRATE
HIS THERMOMETERS TO STANDARD
ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE, MAKING
THEM ACCURATE WHATEVER THE
WEATHER.

Images flash of boilers and steam engines.

Marcus continues
BOTH SCALES ARE STILL USED
TODAY, BUT IT TOOK THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION TO SHOW
UP THEIR LIMITATIONS.
[steam hissing]
AS THE DEMANDS FOR EVER-GREATER
ACCURACY AND RANGE GREW, THE
CELSIUS AND FAHRENHEIT
THERMOMETERS WERE SIMPLY NOT UP
TO THE JOB IN THE FAST,
EVOLVING WORLD OF HEAVY
INDUSTRY.

BY THE END OF THE 19th CENTURY,
STEAM ENGINES LIKE THIS WATT
ENGINE WERE REALLY DRIVING THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.
THEY WERE PUMPING DOWN MINES,
IN DISTILLERIES, CONTROLLING
THE MACHINES IN FACTORIES
ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

Now, Marcus stands on the second story of a building. Large wheels and levers move around him.

Marcus continues
THIS EXTRAORDINARY ENGINE AT
PAPPLEWICK WILL BE PUMPING OVER
A MILLION-AND-A-HALF GALLONS OF
WATER A DAY FOR THE CITIZENS OF
NOTTINGHAM.
[steam hissing]
THE SIX HUGE FURNACES WOULD USE
100 TONS OF COAL A WEEK,
SHOVELLED BY A TEAM OF 14 MEN
WORKING BACK-BREAKING SHIFTS
AROUND THE CLOCK.

The scene changes to Marcus shoveling coal into a boiler.

Marcus continues
NOW, THE TEMPERATURE INSIDE
THIS FURNACE IS GETTING TO OVER
1,000 DEGREES CENTIGRADE.
THAT'S HEATING WATER AT THE
BACK, WHICH TURNS INTO STEAM,
WHICH, USING SOME VALVES,
DRIVES THE PUMPS OF THE WATT
ENGINE.

The image shows the pumps of the large engine moving up and down while giving off steam.
[engine parts rumbling]

Marcus continues
NOW, THE THING IS WHEN WATER
TURNS INTO STEAM, THE VOLUME
CHANGES BY A FACTOR OF 1600,
AND THAT'S WHERE ALL THE POWER
COMES FROM.
NOW, THE PRESSURE DEPENDS ON
THE TEMPERATURE INSIDE THIS
FURNACE.
GET THAT TEMPERATURE WRONG, AND
THE WHOLE PLACE BLOWS SKY HIGH.
[steam hissing]
BY THE SECOND HALF OF THE 19th
CENTURY, BOILERS WERE EXPLODING
AT A RATE OF ALMOST ONE EVERY
FOUR DAYS IN AMERICA ALONE.
ONE OF THE WORST INCIDENTS WAS
LATER CALLED THE TITANIC OF THE
MISSISSIPPI.

Images flash of explosions of buildings and ships.

Marcus continues
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR HAD JUST
FINISHED, AND THE STEAMSHIP
SULTANA, PACKED WITH NEWLY
RELEASED UNION PRISONERS OF
WAR, WAS RETURNING HOME.
AT TWO A.M. ON APRIL 27th,
1865, HER BOILERS EXPLODED,
TEARING THE SHIP APART.

A black-and-white drawing shows a large ship floating in the middle of a river with hundreds of people on board. A moment later, another drawing appears of a ship wreckage with people floating in the water.

Marcus continues
OVER 1,700 LOST THEIR LIVES IN
WHAT REMAINS ONE OF AMERICA'S
WORST MARITIME DISASTERS.
STEAM POWER WAS CHANGING OUR
WORLD, BUT AT A HIGH COST.
THERMOMETERS SIMPLY WOULDN'T
WORK AT THESE HIGH
TEMPERATURES; THE GLASS WOULD
BREAK.
AND THE FAHRENHEIT AND CELSIUS
SCALES THEMSELVES WERE FAR TOO
INACCURATE AT RECORDING
TEMPERATURES SO MUCH HIGHER
THAN THE BOILING AND FREEZING
POINTS THAT THEY WERE BASED ON.
A NEW MEANS OF MEASURING HIGH
TEMPERATURES WAS URGENTLY
NEEDED, AND THE ANSWER
ULTIMATELY CAME FROM AN
UNLIKELY SOURCE: ELECTRICITY.
THE BREAKTHROUGH CAME IN 1820
WHEN A GERMAN SCIENTIST, THOMAS
JOHANN SEEBECK, REALIZED THAT
IF HE TOOK TWO WIRES OF
DIFFERENT METALS AND WOUND THEM
ROUND EACH OTHER AND PUT THE
TWO WIRES INSIDE THE FURNACE...
THEN TOOK A COMPASS AND PUT IT
OVER THE WIRES, HE DISCOVERED
THAT THE NEEDLE OF THE COMPASS
MOVED.

Marcus picks up a long skinny wire and places it inside the furnace. He places a compass over the wire. The needle quivers.

Marcus continues
THERE WAS A MAGNETIC FIELD
BEING CAUSED BY THIS WIRE.
THE DIFFERENCE IN TEMPERATURE
BETWEEN THE END INSIDE THE
FURNACE AND THIS END HERE IS
CAUSING A DIFFERENCE IN VOLTAGE
POTENTIAL, WHICH IS CREATING AN
ELECTRICAL CURRENT RUNNING
THROUGH THIS.
THE ELECTRICAL CURRENT CAUSES
THE MAGNETIC FIELD, AND THAT'S
WHAT'S BEING PICKED UP WHEN I
PUT THE COMPASS OVER THE TOP OF
THIS.
THIS SIMPLE OBSERVATION IS WHAT
LED TO THE CREATION OF A DEVICE
CALLED A THERMOCOUPLE.
IN FACT, A MODERN-DAY
THERMOCOUPLE CAN ACTUALLY
MEASURE THIS VOLTAGE
DIFFERENCE.

Marcus pics up a yellow device and attaches it to the wire. The numbers on the screen of the device start to rise.

Marcus continues
I CAN RECORD THAT THE HEART OF
THE FURNACE, THAT IT'S GOING UP
900 DEGREE- LOOK, IT'S JUST
TOPPED OVER 1,000 THERE.
AND, FOR ME, THE AMAZING THING
IS THAT WE'RE USING THE
MEASUREMENT OF ELECTRICITY TO
ACTUALLY FIND OUT WHAT THE
TEMPERATURE IS INSIDE THIS
FURNACE.
BUT BEFORE WE COULD FULLY
HARNESS HEAT'S POWER, WE NEEDED
TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HEAT REALLY
WAS.
IN THE 18th CENTURY, A POPULAR
THEORY AMONG SCIENTISTS WAS
THAT HEAT WAS AN INVISIBLE
LIQUID THAT FLOWED IN HOT
SUBSTANCES.

Fast clips show drawings of scientists in the 18th century.

Marcus continues
IT TOOK KEEN AMATEUR SCIENTIST
JAMES PRESCOTT JOULE IN 1840 TO
START TO UNLOCK ITS MYSTERIES.
AND IT BEGINS IN RATHER AN
UNLIKELY PLACE: A BREWERY.

The scene changes to Marcus inside a brewery. He picks up a pint of beer and takes a sip.

Marcus continues
RATHER FOND OF BEER, JOULE
REALIZED THAT ACCURATE
TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT WAS
CRUCIAL TO MAKING A GOOD PINT
IN THE FAMILY BREWERY.
HE BECAME SO GOOD AT MEASURING
TEMPERATURE THAT HE CLAIMED YOU
COULD MEASURE IT TO AN ACCURACY
OF 1/200th OF A DEGREE
FAHRENHEIT.
BUT HE ALSO WORKED OUT
SOMETHING ELSE, SOMETHING THAT
WAS CRUCIAL FOR SCIENTISTS TO
UNDERSTAND.
HE DEVISED A SIMPLE EXPERIMENT
THAT HAD AN EXTRAORDINARY
RESULT.
PLACING A PADDLE IN A TANK OF
WATER AND TURNING IT USING THE
ENERGY OF A FALLING WEIGHT, HE
FOUND THAT THE TEMPERATURE OF
THE WATER WENT UP.
HE ALSO FOUND THAT IF THE
WEIGHT FELL FROM EVEN HIGHER,
THE WATER GOT EVEN WARMER.
JOULE HAD DISCOVERED MECHANICAL
ENERGY COULD BE TRANSFERRED
INTO HEAT.
IT WAS A HUGE BREAKTHROUGH.
HEAT WASN'T AN INVISIBLE FLUID,
BUT A FORM OF ENERGY.

A black-and-white photograph goes a group of 18th century scientists sitting in a large room.

Marcus continues
BUT AT THE TIME, THE SCIENTIFIC
COMMUNITY LARGELY SHUNNED HIS
FINDINGS, REFUSING TO BELIEVE
THIS MIDDLE CLASS BREWER COULD
HAVE ANYTHING MEANINGFUL TO
CONTRIBUTE TO SCIENCE.
IT TOOK A CHANCE MEETING FOR
JOULE TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.
ON HONEYMOON IN THE FRENCH ALPS
AND STILL OBSESSED WITH PROVING
HIS THEORIES ON HEAT, JOULE
SPENT HIS TIME NOT WITH HIS
WIFE, BUT AT WATERFALLS,
MEASURING THE DIFFERENCE IN
WATER TEMPERATURE BETWEEN THE
TOP AND THE BOTTOM.

A painting of a river flowing in a lush valley flashes on the screen.
Marcus continues
AND IT WAS HERE THAT HE BUMPED
INTO THE WORLD-RENOWNED
SCIENTIST LORD KELVIN.
THEIR FRIENDSHIP WOULD
REVOLUTIONIZE OUR UNDERSTANDING
OF HEAT.
AND INSPIRED BY THE WORK OF
JOULE, LORD KELVIN SET ABOUT
DEVISING A NEW TEMPERATURE
SCALE.

A black and white photograph shows Lord Kelvin. He is in his sixties with a bushy white beard. He is bald save for wisps of white hair around his head.

Marcus continues
NO LONGER WOULD TEMPERATURE
MEASUREMENT BE BASED ON THE
BOILING AND FREEZING POINTS OF
WATER, BUT ON THE VERY NATURE
OF HEAT ITSELF: ENERGY.
PERFORMING HUNDREDS OF GAS
EXPERIMENTS, KELVIN'S GOAL WAS
TO FIND THE COLDEST TEMPERATURE
IN THE UNIVERSE, AND TO USE
THIS AS THE BASE FOR HIS NEW
SCALE.

An image shows a tube full of clear bubbling liquid. A caption reads, "Clarendon Laboratory: Oxford."

Marcus continues
THIS IS LIQUID HELIUM, AND ALL
THIS MOVEMENT IS CAUSED BY THE
MOLECULES FIRING AROUND INSIDE
IT.
BUT AS THE TEMPERATURE DROPS,
SOMETHING STRANGE STARTS TO
HAPPEN.
THE MOLECULES SLOW RIGHT DOWN
UNTIL THEY VIRTUALLY STOP
MOVING.
THE HELIUM IS CLOSE TO A
THEORETICAL TEMPERATURE CALLED
ABSOLUTE ZERO.
KELVIN CALCULATED THIS TO BE
MINUS 273 DEGREE CELSIUS, A
TEMPERATURE WHERE MOLECULES NO
LONGER MOVE.
THERE IS NO ENERGY, AND
THEREFORE, NO HEAT.
THE INSIDE OF THIS FLASK IS NOW
ONE OF THE COLDEST PLACES IN
THE UNIVERSE.

The liquid stops bubbling.

Marcus continues
USING ABSOLUTE ZERO AS THE
LOWER POINT OF THE SCALE,
KELVIN HAD TIED ITS BASE TO THE
NATURE OF HEAT.
YET, TO MAKE THE SCALE
PRACTICAL, WHAT WAS NEEDED WAS
A FIXED POINT HIGHER UP.
KELVIN DIED BEFORE HIS THEORIES
WERE PUT INTO PRACTICE.
BUT THE SCIENTISTS THAT
FOLLOWED IN HIS FOOTSTEPS CHOSE
A STRANGE PHENOMENA CALLED THE
TRIPLE POINT, WHERE A SUBSTANCE
CAN EXIST SIMULTANEOUSLY AS A
GAS, LIQUID, AND A SOLID.

Marcus is shown pouring liquid nitrogen into a beaker.

Marcus continues
NOW, THE REASON MEASUREMENT
SCIENTISTS LIKE THIS TRIPLE
POINT SO MUCH IS THAT IT
HAPPENS AT A VERY PRECISE
TEMPERATURE.
SO, AT THIS POINT, WE SEE THE
NITROGEN IN LIQUID AND GAS
FORM.

He places a glass bell jar over the liquid nitrogen. White crystals start to form in the beaker.

Marcus continues
AND WE'RE GOING TO REDUCE THE
PRESSURE.
AS THE PRESSURE DROPS, SO DOES
THE TEMPERATURE, AND THE
NITROGEN BEGINS TO SOLIDIFY.
AND WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET-
THERE WE GO.
WE'VE NOW CAPTURED THE NITROGEN
IN BOTH LIQUID, GASEOUS, AND
SOLID FORM.
YOU CAN SEE THIS SOLID KIND OF
LIKE NITROGEN ICE SITTING ON
THE TOP, AND THE GAS IS
BUBBLING UNDERNEATH, PUSHING
THE SOLID UP, AND THE LIQUID
BELOW THAT.
THE OLD FAHRENHEIT AND CELSIUS
SCALES WERE FIXED TO THE
BOILING AND FREEZING POINTS OF
WATER, WHICH CAN VARY
ENORMOUSLY.
THE BEAUTY OF TRIPLE POINTS IS
THAT THEY NEVER VARY BY MORE
THAN A FEW MILLIONTHS OF A
DEGREE.

NOW, WITH THIS IDEA OF A
THEORETICAL ABSOLUTE ZERO AND
THESE TRIPLE POINTS
CORRESPONDING TO DIFFERENT
SUBSTANCES - NITROGEN, WATER -
FINALLY THE WORLD HAD A PRECISE
SCALE TO MEASURE TEMPERATURE.

Marcus removes the bell jar. The crystals melt.

Marcus exclaims
OH!
HALF A CENTURY AFTER HIS DEATH,
THE KELVIN WAS ADOPTED AS THE
INTERNATIONAL UNIT OF
TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT AND
TIED TO A FIXED POINT MORE
ACCURATE THAN CELSIUS AND
FAHRENHEIT COULD EVER HAVE
IMAGINED: THE TRIPLE POINT OF
WATER.
WITH IT, INCREDIBLE FEATS OF
ENGINEERING WERE NOW POSSIBLE.
FROM FORGING METALS TO GROWING
CRYSTALS, THE WORLD FINALLY HAD
A TEMPERATURE SCALE IT COULD
TRUST.
LIKE HEAT, THE STORY OF
ELECTRICITY ALSO TOOK A GIANT
LEAP FORWARD DURING THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.
IT WAS FRENCH MATHS PRODIGY AND
PHYSICIST ANDRE-MARIE AMPERE
WHO WAS TO MAKE THE NEXT REAL
BREAKTHROUGH.

Images flash of a young Ampere, steam engines, and the wire in the furnace.

Marcus continues
INTRIGUED WITH OERSTED'S
DISCOVERIES, HE DECIDED TO
FURTHER INVESTIGATE THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM.

Marcus stands in front of two coils of metal dangling from a string.

Marcus continues
USING APPARATUS VERY SIMILAR TO
THIS, HE DISCOVERED THAT IF HE
PASSED AN ELECTRICAL CURRENT
BETWEEN TWO PARALLEL WIRES, IT
CREATED A MAGNETIC ATTRACTION
BETWEEN THEM.
NOW, I'VE BEEFED UP THE
EXPERIMENT A LITTLE BIT BY
USING THESE COILS OF WIRE, BUT
IF I TURN ON THE ELECTRICAL
CURRENT...
THE COILS ARE THEN ATTRACTED TO
EACH OTHER.

Marcus flips a switch. The coils move towards one another.

Marcus continues
AND THE KEY THING FOR US IS THE
GREATER THE ELECTRICAL CURRENT

SO IF I BEEF THAT UP A BIT...
THE GREATER THE MAGNETIC FORCE
BETWEEN THEM.
AMPERE HAD FOUND A NEW WAY TO
MEASURE ELECTRICITY.
BY MEASURING THE STRENGTH OF
THE MAGNETIC FORCE, HE WAS ABLE
TO BUILD A MACHINE TO MEASURE A
CURRENT CALLED A GALVANOMETER,
NAMED IN HONOUR OF ELECTRICAL
PIONEER LUIGI GALVANI.
AND THERE WAS A PRACTICAL USE
TO ALL THIS: AMPERE'S WORK WAS
ABOUT TO PAVE THE WAY FOR
MODERN COMMUNICATION.
THE FIRST TELEGRAPH SYSTEMS
WERE BASICALLY A WIRE WITH A
GALVANOMETER STUCK AT EACH END.

An image shows a white circle with a row of double-sided needles going down the middle. Above the needles are the letters, "H I K and L." The bottom row reads, "M N O P." The needles swivel back and forth.

Marcus continues
THEY WORKED BY SENDING PULSES
OF CURRENT DOWN A WIRE, WHICH
THEN DEFLECTED THESE NEEDLES.
MESSAGES COULD NOW BE SENT AT A
SPEED OF ABOUT SIX WORDS A
MINUTE.

A clip shows a hand moving black dials.

Marcus continues
BUT IT TOOK A GRIZZLY MURDER
FOR THIS NEWFANGLED INVENTION
TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.
[train whistle blows]
IN 1845, JOHN TAWELL POISONED
HIS LOVER, SARAH HART, WITH A
DEADLY DRINK OF PRUSSIC ACID.
FLEEING THE SCENE, HE JUMPED ON
A TRAIN TO LONDON.
THE ALARM WAS RAISED, AND A
TELEGRAPH MESSAGE SENT TO
PADDINGTON STATION.

A black and white clip shows a man purchasing a train tickets and rushing inside of a train.

Marcus continues
A MURDER HAS JUST BEEN
COMMITTED AT SALT HILL, AND A
SUSPECTED MURDERER WAS SEEN TO
TAKE A FIRST CLASS TICKET TO
LONDON BY THE TRAIN WHICH LEFT
SLOUGH AT 7:42 P.M.
HE IS IN THE GARB OF A QUAKER.
[frantic clicking]
THE MESSAGE TOOK 10 MINUTES TO
GET TO LONDON; THE TRAIN TOOK
50.

A black and white clip shows a man sending a telegraph. A moment later, a drawing of a man being apprehended by the police flashes on the screen.

Marcus continues
ON HIS ARRIVAL, TAWELL WAS MET
AND TAILED BY A LONDON BOBBY.
NEWS OF HIS SPECTACULAR ARREST
MADE EVERY PAPER IN THE
COUNTRY.
THE POWER OF ELECTRICAL
COMMUNICATION WAS CLEAR FOR ALL
TO SEE.
SOON, TELEGRAPH LINES WERE
BEING LAID ACROSS THE WORLD.
A REVOLUTION IN GLOBAL
COMMUNICATIONS WAS UNDERWAY.
BUT WITH NO INTERNATIONAL
SYSTEM OF MEASURING
ELECTRICITY, THERE WERE SERIOUS
PROBLEMS.
IF TOO MUCH CURRENT WAS PUSHED
DOWN THE LINE, THE WIRES CAUGHT
FIRE.
TOO LITTLE AND THE MESSAGE
NEVER GOT THROUGH.

Fast images show drawings of men on ships laying down wire into the ocean. A map shows red lines crisscrossing all major bodies of water.

Marcus continues
WITH LOTS OF COMPETING AND
DIFFERENT UNITS OF ELECTRICAL
MEASUREMENT IN USE,
STANDARDIZATION WAS URGENTLY
NEEDED.
AND, IN 1881, ON THE SITE OF
THE GRAND PALAIS HERE IN PARIS,
THAT DREAM WOULD BECOME A
REALITY.
IT WAS AT THE FIRST CONGRESS OF
ELECTRICIANS ATTENDED BY 250
PEOPLE FROM 28 DIFFERENT
COUNTRIES THAT THE AMPERE, THE
VOLT, THE OHM, AND THE FARAD
WERE FINALLY DEFINED.

The scene changes to Marcus standing on the Parisian bridge at night.

Marcus continues
ULTIMATELY, IT WOULD BE THE
AMPERE THAT WOULD BECOME THE
INTERNATIONAL UNIT FOR
ELECTRICITY.
FINALLY, THE WORLD HAD A
STANDARD FOR ACCURATELY
MEASURING ELECTRICITY.
AS THE BRAINS OF THE ELECTRICAL
WORLD MET BEHIND CLOSED DOORS,
THE FRENCH PUBLIC WERE BEING
TREATED TO THE GREATEST
EXHIBITION OF ELECTRICITY EVER
SEEN.
ALL ALONG THE CAPITAL'S
TREE-LINED AVENUES AND IN THE
EXHIBITION HALLS, THE LATEST
ELECTRICAL LIGHTING, TRAMS,
TELEPHONES, GENERATING SYSTEMS,
SIGNALLING DEVICES WOULD HAVE
BEEN GATHERED FOR THE CONGRESS
AND THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN AN
EXTRAORDINARY SIGHT.
IN FACT, ONLOOKERS DESCRIBED IT
AS A GREAT BLAZE OF SPLENDOUR.
IT REALLY MARKED THE SPIRIT OF
THE AGE, A SPIRIT OF INNOVATION
AND INVENTION.
BUT IT WAS A YOUNG AMERICAN
ENGINEER AN ENTREPRENEUR WHO
STOLE THE SHOW THAT YEAR.
HIS NAME WAS THOMAS EDISON.

A black and white photograph of a young Edition flashes across the green. He is clean-shaven and has short-brown hair combed back.

Marcus continues
IN TWO ENORMOUS ROOMS FILLED
WITH CRYSTAL CHANDELIERS AND
HUNDREDS UPON HUNDREDS OF
LIGHTS, THE CROWDS WERE DAZZLED
AND AMAZED.
BUT THE INVENTION THAT CAUGHT
EVERYONE'S ATTENTION WAS HIS
GIANT ELECTRICAL GENERATOR,
CAPABLE OF LIGHTING 1,200
LAMPS.

Black and white photographs show a room studded with chandeliers and a large engine with several compartments.

Marcus continues
WITH IT WERE PLANS FOR THE
FIRST COMPLETE ELECTRICAL
SUPPLY SYSTEM, A SYSTEM THAT
WOULD BRING TOGETHER THE POWER
OF HEAT, ELECTRICITY, AND LIGHT
FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME.
AT ITS HEART WOULD BE A
STEAM-DRIVEN POWER STATION THAT
WOULD SUPPLY ENOUGH ELECTRICITY
TO LIGHT OVER 100 BUSINESSES
AND PRIVATE HOUSES.

The scene changes to Marcus standing at the corner of a busy intersection.

Marcus continues
EDISON WAS ABOUT TO LIGHT UP
OUR WORLD.
SIX MONTHS LATER, EDISON'S
DREAM WOULD BECOME A REALITY.
ON THE 4th OF SEPTEMBER 1882,
EDISON SWITCHED ON HIS PEARL
STREET POWER STATION, AND
ELECTRICAL CURRENT STARTED
FLOWING TO 59 CUSTOMERS IN
LOWER MANHATTAN, POWERING 400
LAMPS.
THE NEWSPAPERS REPORTED HOW IN
A TWINKLING, THE AREA BOUNDED
BY SPRUCE, WALL, NASSAU, AND
PEARL STREETS WAS IN A GLOW.

A black and white clip shows a man and wife pointing at a light bulb in their house. It flashes on and off.

Marcus continues
IT MARKED THE DAWN OF THE
ELECTRICAL AGE.
THE WORLD WOULD NEVER BE QUITE
THE SAME AGAIN; ELECTRICITY HAD
ARRIVED.
AND EVEN EDISON MUST HAVE BEEN
SURPRISED BY ITS POPULARITY.

Fast clips play of modern electric signs and flashing lights.

Marcus continues
WITHIN TWO YEARS, DEMAND FOR
PEARL STREET ELECTRICITY HAD
ROCKETED TENFOLD.
ELECTRICITY SOON BECAME A
HOUSEHOLD COMMODITY, LIKE
BUYING A LOAD OF COAL OR A BOX
OF MATCHES - AT LEAST, IF YOU
COULD AFFORD IT.
THE NEXT GREAT CHALLENGE WAS
MEASURING HOW MUCH PEOPLE WERE
USING.
BUT THE GALVANOMETER AND THE
UNITS DEFINED IN PARIS COULDN'T
DO THIS.
EDISON COULD HAVE CHARGED HIS
CUSTOMERS BASED ON THE NUMBER
OF LAMPS THEY HAD.
BUT SOON, HE REALIZED THIS WAS
NOT A PROFITABLE WAY TO DO
BUSINESS.
WHAT HE NEEDED WAS A WAY TO
MEASURE CURRENT USAGE OVER
TIME, AND HIS SOLUTION WAS TO
USE THE PRINCIPLES OF
ELECTROPLATING.
EDISON'S FIRST ELECTRICITY
METER BASICALLY CONSISTED OF A
GLASS JAR WITH TWO COPPER
PLATES SUSPENDED IN A COPPER
SULPHATE SOLUTION.

The scene changes to Marcus in a laboratory. On a table sits a closed jar with a turquoise solution. Two copper plates are lowered in the solution through openings in the lid. Wires are attached from the plates to an electric source. Marcus flips the switch.

Marcus continues
NOW, AS I PASS ELECTRICITY
THROUGH THE CELL, THEN WHAT
HAPPENS IS THE ATOMS TRANSFER
FROM THE SOLUTION ONTO THE
PLATE, MAKING THE PLATE
HEAVIER.
NOW, THE KEY POINT HERE IS THE
TOTAL MASS OF COPPER DEPOSITED
ON THE PLATE IS DIRECTLY
PROPORTIONAL TO THE TOTAL
CURRENT RUNNING THROUGH THE
SYSTEM.
SO, NOW, IF I SWITCH OFF THE
ELECTRICITY AND WE TAKE THE
PLATE OUT, YOU CAN SEE HERE THE
COPPER THAT'S BEEN DEPOSITED.

Marcus flips the power source off and removes a copper plate from the solution. The bottom of the plate is covered in red particles.

Marcus continues
NOW, THE AMAZING THING FOR ME
IS THAT INSTEAD OF MEASURING
THIS RATHER ELUSIVE PROPERTY OF
ELECTRICITY, WE'RE ACTUALLY
JUST MEASURING A CHANGE IN
WEIGHT.
FINALLY, EDISON HAD A WAY TO
CHARGE HIS CUSTOMERS FOR THE
AMOUNT OF ELECTRICITY THEY'D
USED.
HE'D SEND OUT ONE OF HIS
EMPLOYEES TO VISIT THE CELLS.
THEY'D TAKE OUT THE PLATE,
MEASURE THE CHANGE IN WEIGHT,
AND THE CUSTOMERS WOULD BE
BILLED ACCORDINGLY.
NOW, IT WASN'T A BRILLIANT
SYSTEM, BUT AT LEAST IT WAS A
SYSTEM FOR MEASURING THE AMOUNT
OF ELECTRICITY THAT HAD BEEN
USED.
WHILE THE MEASUREMENT OF HEAT
AND ELECTRICITY WAS MAKING
GREAT ADVANCES IN THE
INDUSTRIAL ERA, THE QUEST TO
MEASURE LIGHT HAD BEEN ALL BUT
FORGOTTEN.
IT TOOK THE EMERGENCE OF STREET
LIGHTS TO CHANGE ALL THIS.
BEFORE EDISON LIT UP OUR WORLD
USING ELECTRICITY, THE VERY
FIRST LAMPS WERE POWERED BY
GAS.
IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE
19th CENTURY.
THEFT WAS ON THE RISE, AND
MURDER WAS COMMONPLACE.
THERE WAS A DESPERATE NEED FOR
SAFER STREETS.
AND THAT CAME WITH THE
INSTALLATION OF THE FIRST
PUBLIC GAS LIGHTS HERE IN
CENTRAL LONDON IN 1807.

Clips flash of numerous news articles and drawings of people laying in the street, huddled in the together.

A moment later, Marcus is standing on a street corner underneath a street lamp.

Marcus continues
DEMAND FOR THIS NEWFANGLED GAS
LIGHTING SOARED, AND SOON
UNSCRUPULOUS COMPANIES WERE
CASHING IN, SELLING LOW-QUALITY
GAS AT HIGH-QUALITY PRICES.
THE OUTRAGE THAT ENSUED FORCED
THE GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE A
NEW MEASURE FOR LIGHT
INTENSITY.
IT WAS CALLED CANDLEPOWER, AND
IT WAS BASED ON THE BRIGHTNESS
OF A SPECIAL CANDLE MADE OUT OF
BEESWAX AND THE NATURALLY
OCCURRING OIL TAKEN FROM THE
HEAD OF A SPERM WHALE.

THE SPERMACETI CANDLE.

An old advert flashes on the screen. In a fancy typeface it reads, "Sperm Oil. Sperm Candle." A moment later an image shows a street lined with streetlights.

Marcus continues
THE NEW UNIT WAS TO BE THE
LIGHT PRODUCED BY ONE
SPERMACETI CANDLE WEIGHING
ONE-SIXTH OF A POUND AND
BURNING AT A RATE OF 120 GRAINS
PER HOUR.

IT WAS THE WORLD'S FIRST
ATTEMPT TO TRY AND PRODUCE A
STANDARD MEASURE OF LIGHT
INTENSITY, BUT IT WAS STILL
VERY ARBITRARY.
LIGHT INSPECTORS WOULD GO OUT
AND HOLD UP GREASY BITS OF
PAPER, TRYING TO COMPARE THE
BRIGHTNESS OF LIGHT COMING FROM
GAS LAMPS TO THOSE OF A CANDLE.
AND IT HAD A FUNDAMENTAL
PROBLEM THAT STILL HAUNTS THE
MEASUREMENT OF LIGHT INTENSITY
TO THIS DAY.
IT DEPENDS ENTIRELY ON OUR OWN
PERCEPTION OF LIGHT.
NOW, THIS IS THE LIGHT PRODUCED
BY 100 CANDLES.

A moment later, Marcus is standing in room lit only by 100 candles.

Marcus continues
IN A MOMENT, I AM GOING TO
EXTINGUISH 50 OF THEM.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE PUPIL
IN MY EYE EXPANDS AND CONTRACTS
TO CONTROL THE AMOUNT OF LIGHT
ENTERING THEM, WHICH MEANS THAT
WHEN I EXTINGUISH HALF OF THEM,
IT ISN'T GOING TO LOOK HALF AS
BRIGHT.

Marcus uses a thick metal bolt to extinguish 50 candles. A close-up of his eye reveals his pupils have expanded greatly.

Marcus continues
NOW, ALTHOUGH THE CAMERA IS
RECORDING A LOWER LIGHT
CONDITION, TO MY HUMAN EYE,
ALTHOUGH I'VE GOT HALF AS
MANY CANDLES, THIS LOOKS AS
BRIGHT AS IT DID BEFORE.
IT TOOK A REMARKABLE SERIES OF
EXPERIMENTS IN THE 1920s TO
SOLVE THE RIDDLE OF HUMAN LIGHT
PERCEPTION.

The scene changes to Marcus walking into a white building covered in tinted windows. A caption reads, "National Physical Laboratory: London."

Marcus continues
IN AN INTERNATIONAL STUDY, 200
PEOPLE AGED 18 TO 60 UNDERWENT
A SERIES OF TESTS TO FIND OUT
WHAT COLOUR WAVELENGTHS WE SEE
BEST, AND HOW OUR EYES COMBINE
THESE DIFFERENT COLOURS TO
PERCEIVE BRIGHTNESS.
THEIR WORK WOULD LEAD TO THE
CREATION OF THE CANDELA, THE
UNIT WE USE TO MEASURE LIGHT
TODAY.
HERE, AT THE NATIONAL PHYSICAL
LABORATORY, Dr. NIGEL FOX CAN
SHOW ME HOW UNRELIABLE MY EYES
ARE AS A MEANS OF MEASUREMENT.
YES, THAT'S GOOD, SO LET'S
MEASURE.

The scene changes to Marcus standing in a black room with Dr. Nigel Fox. He is in his fifties, clean-shaven, and white hair. He wears glasses, a blue, button-down with a green tie, and khaki pants.

In the room are three lamp in three different compartments. They each have a different coloured light bulb: red, green, and blue. A device that looks like a video camera points to the compartments.

Marcus continues
SO, IT LOOKS A BIT LIKE A '70s
DISCO HERE, BUT-

Dr. Nigel Fox says YES, YES.
WELL, WE CAN'T QUITE REPRODUCE
THE EXPERIMENTS OF THE 1920s;
THE EQUIPMENT HAS ALL
DISAPPEARED.
BUT WHAT WE'VE TRIED TO DO IS
TO SIMULATE THE EFFECT OF THAT
EXPERIMENT HERE.
SO, MARCUS, WHICH OF THOSE
LIGHTS LOOKS THE BRIGHTEST TO
YOU?

Marcus says WELL, I'D SAY THAT
THE GREEN ONE SEEMS TO BE A LOT
BRIGHTER THAN THE RED AND THE
BLUE.
THE RED AND THE BLUE - MAYBE
BLUE NEXT, AND THEN THE RED
THIRD.
BUT, YEAH, THE GREEN CERTAINLY
SEEMS THE BRIGHTEST.

Dr. Nigel Fox says WELL, WOULD
IT SURPRISE YOU IF I SAID THE
GREEN IS LESS THAN ALL OF THE
OTHERS?

Marcus says OH, REALLY, LESS
INTENSE?
YOU'RE NOT TRICKING ME?

Dr. Nigel Fox says NO, NO,
THIS IS-

Marcus says WHAT'S THIS RECORDING
THEN?

Dr. Nigel Fox looks at the device that looks like a video camera and says THIS
INSTRUMENT IS MEASURING THE
ACTUAL RADIOMETRIC POWER THAT
IS COMING FROM THOSE DIFFERENT
LIGHT SOURCES.

Marcus says AND, AS THE
INSTRUMENTS PROVE, MY EYES
REALLY ARE DECEIVING ME.

THAT'S EXTRAORDINARY; THE RED
IS ACTUALLY MUCH MORE POWERFUL
THAN THE GREEN, YET MY EYE IS
SEEING THE GREEN AS MORE
LUMINOUS.

Dr. Nigel Fox says EXACTLY.

Now, Marcus walks out of the building and into a car. He drives away.

Marcus continues THE 1920s TESTS
REVEALED NOT ONLY THAT OUR EYES
WERE MUCH MORE SENSITIVE TO
YELLOWISH GREEN LIGHT, BUT THAT
OUR AGE AND SEX ALSO AFFECT HOW
WE PERCEIVE THE BRIGHTNESS OF
LIGHT.
COMPILING THEIR RESULTS, THE
SCIENTISTS CAME UP WITH AN
AVERAGE HUMAN PERCEPTION OF
BRIGHTNESS.
ITS ROUGHLY EQUIVALENT TO HOW A
WOMAN IN HER LATE 20s SEES
LIGHT.
TO THIS DAY, THE DEFINITION OF
THE CANDELA REMAINS LOCKED TO
THESE FINDINGS.

I CAN UNDERSTAND THE NEED FOR
THE CANDELA.
I MEAN, HAVING A UNIT OF
MEASUREMENT WHICH MEASURES HOW
THE HUMAN EYE SEES LIGHT IS
CLEARLY USEFUL.

He stops at a traffic light.

Marcus continues
I MEAN, TAKE THIS TRAFFIC LIGHT
THAT'S COMING UP.
I WANT TO KNOW THAT IT'S BRIGHT
ENOUGH THAT I'M GOING TO SEE
IT, BUT NOT SO BRIGHT THAT IT'S
GOING TO DAZZLE ME.
THE SAME APPLIES TO THE CAR
HEADLAMPS, STREET LAMPS, LIGHTS
IN OUR HOME - THE LIST IS
ENDLESS.

The light turns green. Marcus drives onwards.

Marcus continues
BECAUSE IT'S BASED ON HUMAN
PERCEPTION, THERE IS SOMETHING
RATHER ODD ABOUT THE CANDELA AS
A UNIT.
I MEAN, IT'S KIND OF THE BLACK
SHEEP OF THE MEASUREMENT
FAMILY.
AND THE CANDELA'S DAYS ARE
NUMBERED.
TODAY, SCIENTISTS ARE TRYING TO
BASE ALL MEASUREMENT ON THE
FUNDAMENTAL, UNCHANGING LAWS OF
THE UNIVERSE.
WE'VE DONE IT FOR THE METRE,
BASING IT ON THE SPEED OF
LIGHT, AND THE SECOND ON THE
MOVEMENT OF ELECTRONS INSIDE AN
ATOM.
NOW, THE GOAL IS TO DO THE SAME
FOR HEAT, ELECTRICITY, AND
LIGHT.

The scene changes to the inside of control room. Two men sit behind a desk looking at a monitor. One pulls a lever. A caption reads, "Rolls Royce: Derby."

Marcus continues
TODAY, JUST AS DURING THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, OUR
ABILITY TO MEASURE THESE ENERGY
UNITS IS FAILING TO KEEP UP
WITH THE DEMANDS OF INDUSTRY.
The scene changes to outside of the control room. A turbine elevated above the ground spins rapidly.

Marcus continues
HERE AT ROLLS-ROYCE, MEASURING
AND HARNESSING HEAT AT
TEMPERATURES HIGHER THAN 2,000
DEGREES KELVIN WILL HELP
DELIVER MORE FUEL EFFICIENT AND
POWERFUL JET ENGINES.
ACCURATELY MEASURING VERY HIGH
TEMPERATURES IS A HUGE
TECHNICAL CHALLENGE.

Now, Marcus stands in a hangar with a turbine and other mechanical equipment. He stands next to Pete Loftus. He is in his forties, with very short black hair. He wears glasses, a grey suit with a white undershirt and a striped grey tie. A caption reads, "Pete Loftus: Rolls Royce."

Pete Loftus says THIS IS THE
HIGH-PRESSURE TURBINE BLADE;
THIS IS THE FIRST ROTATING
COMPONENT THAT THE GAS STREAM
WOULD ENCOUNTER COMING DOWN
FROM THE COMBUSTOR.

He holds up a thick, rectangular piece of metal.

Marcus says SO, WHEREABOUTS IS
THAT IN HERE?

Pete Loftus says SO, IT'S JUST
DOWNSTREAM OF THE BURNERS, YES.

Marcus says RIGHT, SO, THIS IS
EXPOSED TO EXTREME
TEMPERATURES?

Pete Loftus says IT IS INDEED,
AND TEMPERATURES ABOVE ITS
MELTING POINT.

Marcus says ABOVE ITS MELTING
POINT?

Pete Loftus says ABOVE ITS
MELTING POINT.

Marcus says SO, THIS SHOULD
ACTUALLY BE MELTING THEN?
OKAY, SO HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE
IT DOESN'T MELT?

Pete Loftus says WE HAVE TO
HEAVILY COOL THEM.
YOU CAN SEE SOME OF THE
FEATURES THAT DO THAT: THE
HOLES ON THE SURFACE.
THERE ARE PASSAGEWAYS INSIDE OF
THE BLADE; FINISHED ITEMS WOULD
HAVE A COATING ON THEM AS WELL,
A THERMAL BARRIER COATING, A
CERAMIC LAYER, WHICH ALSO TAKES
A LOT OF THE HEAT AWAY.

Marcus says DESPITE
STATE-OF-THE-ART THERMOCOUPLES,
COMPUTER MODELLING, AND THERMAL
PAINTS ON THE TURBINE BLADES,
THE EXPERTS HERE CAN ONLY
ACHIEVE AN ACCURACY OF ABOUT
FOUR DEGREES KELVIN.
BETTER ACCURACY ISN'T JUST A
TECHNICAL PROBLEM.
THE KELVIN SCALE ITSELF LOSES
ACCURACY THE HIGHER
TEMPERATURES GET.
TODAY, NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE
PUSHING TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT
TO THE ABSOLUTE LIMIT, SUCH
THAT A NEW STANDARD IS
CRITICALLY NEEDED.
HERE AT THE N.P.L. HEAT LAB,
THEY THINK THEY MIGHT BE
CLOSE TO CRACKING IT.
MICHAEL DE PODESTA HAS BUILT
THE MOST ACCURATE THERMOMETER
IN THE WORLD: AN ACOUSTIC GAS
THERMOMETER.

The scene changes to the inside of the N.P.L. heat lab. It is filled with barrels and tanks that read, "Bio Stop." Marcus stands inside with Michael de Podesta. He is in his fifties, clean-shaven with medium-length grey hair. He wears glasses, a blue polo, and black pants.

Michael de Podesta says IT'S THE
CULMINATION OF A 150-YEAR
STORY THAT BEGAN WITH KELVIN
HIMSELF.
WHAT WE'RE DOING IS WE'RE
DETERMINING TEMPERATURES IN
TERMS OF THE SPEED WITH WHICH
MOLECULES ARE MOVING.
WHAT WE MEASURE IS THE SPEED OF
SOUND THROUGH ARGON GAS TRAPPED
IN THIS CONTAINER DOWN HERE.

Marcus says IT SEEMS
EXTRAORDINARY TO BE USING SOUND
IN A WAY TO BE MEASURING
TEMPERATURE.

Michael de Podesta says WELL, IF
YOU THINK ABOUT A SOUND WAVE,
MOMENTARILY GAS IS COMPRESSED,
AND THAT HEATS UP THE GAS, AND
THE GAS THEN SPRINGS BACK AND
YOU'RE TURNING THAT THERMAL
ENERGY - THE MICROSCOPIC MOTION
OF THE MOLECULES - BACK INTO
MECHANICAL ENERGY.
SO, SOUND IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO
TEMPERATURE.

An image flashes of blue sound waves vibrating on a black screen.

Michael de Podesta continues
SO, WHAT WE MEASURE IS THE
SPEED OF SOUND, AND WHAT WE CAN
INFER VERY, VERY DIRECTLY IS
THE SPEED OF THE MOLECULE.

Standing outside of the heat lab, Marcus says IF IT'S SUCCESSFUL,
THE ACOUSTIC GAS THERMOMETER
WILL BE AS REVOLUTIONARY FOR
THE MEASUREMENT OF HEAT AS THE
ATOMIC CLOCK WAS FOR TIME.
JUST AS KELVIN DREAMT, IT WILL
CREATE AN ABSOLUTE SYSTEM BASED
ON ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL
CONSTANTS OF THE UNIVERSE: THE
BOLTZMANN CONSTANT, A MAGICAL
NUMBER WHICH RELATES THE
MOVEMENT OF MOLECULES TO
TEMPERATURE.
WHEN THAT HAPPENS, TEMPERATURE
WILL JOIN THE METRE AND THE
SECOND IN BEING TIED TO A
UNIVERSAL CONSTANT OF NATURE.

Fast clips show cells underneath a microscope vibrating, the inside of a burning furnace, Marcus walking out of the National Physical Lab, traffic lights, and an atom.

Marcus continues
AND WITH IT WILL COME
INCREDIBLE PRECISION, WITH
DEVICES CAPABLE OF MEASURING
ACCURATELY AT TEMPERATURES
HOTTER THAN THE SURFACE OF THE
SUN.
IT WILL GIVE US GREATER CONTROL
OF HEAT, MAKING ENGINES MORE
EFFICIENT AND ECONOMICAL.
INCREDIBLY, IN A LAB JUST DOWN
THE CORRIDOR FROM THE ACOUSTIC
THERMOMETER, ANOTHER
BREAKTHROUGH IS UNDERWAY.

A white sign in front of a building is shown. It reads, "National Measurement Office."

Marcus says HERE, J.T. JANSSEN AND HIS TEAM
ARE REVOLUTIONIZING THE
MEASUREMENT OF ELECTRICITY.
AND THEIR WORK CAN BE TRACED
BACK TO VOLTA'S BATTERY
EXPERIMENT.
WE NOW KNOW IF YOU BREAK
SOMETHING DOWN INTO ITS
BUILDING BLOCKS, ATOMS, YOU'LL
FIND A POSITIVELY CHARGED
NUCLEUS ORBITED BY NEGATIVELY
CHARGED ELECTRONS.

An image shows an electron swirling around the nucleus of an atom.

Marcus continues
METALS LIKE THE COPPER AND ZINC
USED BY VOLTA HAVE ELECTRONS
THAT READILY DETACH FROM THEIR
NUCLEI.
IT IS THESE LOOSE, MOVING
ELECTRONS THAT ENABLE
ELECTRICITY TO FLOW, FORMING A
CURRENT.

Fast images show thousands of nuclei and electronics circulating around one another down a current.

Marcus continues
USING SOME OF THE STRONGEST
MAGNETS ON THE PLANET AND
TEMPERATURES CLOSE TO ABSOLUTE
ZERO, J.T.'S TEAM ARE
CONTROLLING THE MOVEMENT OF
SINGLE ELECTRONS AND COUNTING
THEM AS THEY PASS THROUGH THEIR
EXPERIMENT ONE AT A TIME.

The scene changes to J.T. Janssen sitting down inside a laboratory. It is filled with reading devices and mechanical equipment. J.T. is in his fifties, clean-shaven with thin grey hair. He wears a white and blue striped button-down. A caption reads, "J.T. Janssen, National Physical Laboratory."

J.T. Janssen says WELL, WE'VE
BEEN WORKING ON THIS EXPERIMENT
FOR ABOUT 10 YEARS NOW.
IT'S ALL RELATED TO TRYING TO
REDEFINE THE AMPERE - THE UNIT
FOR ELECTRICAL CURRENT - IN
TERMS OF A FUNDAMENTAL CONSTANT
OF NATURE.
AND, IN THIS CASE, THAT'S THE
CHARGE OF AN INDIVIDUAL
ELECTRON.
AND NOW, WE'RE AT THE LEVEL
WHERE WE CAN CONTROL A BILLION
ELECTRONS PER SECOND AND WE'RE
ONLY MISSING A FEW OF THOSE.

Marcus says J.T.'S EXPERIMENT
WILL REDEFINE OUR MEASURE
OF ELECTRICAL CURRENT USING
THESE INDIVIDUAL ELECTRONS.
THEY ARE FUNDAMENTAL PARTICLES,
THE SAME THROUGHOUT THE
UNIVERSE.
FOR SCIENTISTS, THIS IS THE
GOAL, TYING MEASUREMENT TO THE
UNCHANGING LAWS OF PHYSICS.

The scene changes to a scientist working behind a computer screen. Animated atoms on the computer screen move up and down a graph.

Marcus continues
AND THEIR WORK WON'T JUST
IMPACT ON THE WORLD OF
MEASUREMENT.
CONTROLLING THE FLOW OF SINGLE
ELECTRONS IS KEY TO DEVELOPING
QUANTUM COMPUTERS.
THIS NEXT GENERATION OF
TECHNOLOGY WILL PRODUCE
COMPUTERS CAPABLE OF
CALCULATIONS THAT ARE VASTLY
BEYOND WHAT IS CURRENTLY
POSSIBLE: THEY COULD SIMULATE
THE HUMAN BRAIN.
MODEL CLIMATE CHANGE IN REAL
TIME AND DATA STORAGE USING
ELECTRONS WOULD MEAN VIRTUALLY
LIMITLESS CAPACITY.

An image shows a large laboratory. A moment later, the scene changes to outer space and its many galaxies.

Marcus continues
AS WE DELVE DEEPER INSIDE THE
FABRIC OF OUR UNIVERSE, INTO
THE QUANTUM WORLD OF SUBATOMIC
PARTICLES, MEASUREMENT IS
UNDERGOING A FUNDAMENTAL AND
EXCITING CHANGE.
WE ARE NOW USING THE VERY
BUILDING BLOCKS OF MATTER TO
HELP US MEASURE THE WORLD
AROUND US.
EVEN THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE
MEASUREMENT FAMILY, THE
CANDELA, COULD SOON BE
REDEFINED, TIED TO THE FLOW OF
PHOTONS OF LIGHT.

Images flash of the places Marcus had visited throughout the episode.

Marcus continues
WHAT STARTED WITH OUR SENSES
AND CRUDE GUESSWORK IS NOW
GETTING DOWN TO THE SMALLEST
BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE UNIVERSE
AS OUR HUMAN URGE FOR
EVER-GREATER PRECISION DRIVES
US FORWARD.
[cheering and clapping]

MEASUREMENT HAS CHANGED THE
COURSE OF SCIENCE AND
CIVILIZATION.
NOW, AS THE QUANTUM AGE
APPROACHES, OUR WORLD IS SET TO
CHANGE ONCE MORE.
BUT THIS IS ALL PART OF A STORY
WHICH STARTED THOUSANDS OF
YEARS AGO WHEN OUR ANCESTORS
BEGAN TO MEASURE TIME, LENGTH
AND WEIGHT.
THEY WERE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND
THE ENVIRONMENT AROUND THEM, TO
MEASURE IT AND ULTIMATELY TO
MANIPULATE IT.
BUT ISN'T THAT REALLY WHAT'S
STILL DRIVING US TODAY?
BECAUSE MEASUREMENT IS THE KEY
TO UNDERSTANDING OUR PLACE IN
THE UNIVERSE.

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

Director: Mike Cunliffe.
Producer: Mark Woodward.

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

Watch: Ep. 3 - Heat, Light and Electricity