The Eureka Years

The Eureka Years

Exploring spectacular years in the history of science Adam Hart-Davis explores spectacular years in the long history of science, when brilliant ideas emerged from the maelstrom of mad, bad and dangerous thinking.


F:\Eureka Years =============== Eureka Years - 1628 - William Harvey's Theory on the Heart *****Royal Physician William Harvey demonstrates that the heart is just a pump and that blood circulates around the body. He is quickly ridiculed by the traditionalists. Eureka Years - 1650 - Coffee, Cosmology And The Civil War ***** The country is still reeling after the execution of King Charles I as a small coffee-house opens in Oxford, the first on English soil. In the years that follow, coffee will become the preferred drink of businessmen, scientists and politicians, and fuel the discoveries of the new Age of Reason. Eureka Years - 1665 - Newton's Gravity Theory *****Then 1665 was the year that brought the plague. At its height, 7000 people were dying in London every week, and thousands more fled to the countryside, hoping to avoid the deadly disease. When it reached Cambridge the university was closed down, and one of the students went home and stay with his mum in Lincolnshire. His name was Isaac Newton, and that time he spent at home, thinking, was the best of his life. He sorted out several mathematical problems that had baffled other mathematicians. He investigated the colours of the rainbow, invented a reflecting telescope, and formed a new theory of light. Finally, he claimed he saw an apple fall from a tree, had a deep insight into gravity, and worked out the laws of motion. But as we discover in the programme, history is rarely so simple. The apple story simply isnít true; Newton seems to have invented it 60 years laterÖ Eureka Years - 1769 - Water Wheel ***** Eureka Years - 1799 - Napoleon and Gas Lights *****A young Humphrey Davy wanders the streets of Bristol breathing laughing gas from a green silk bag, getting mildly hysterical, and encouraging his literary friends to do likewise. Meanwhile the gas lamp revolutionizes the length of the working day, Alessandro Volta invents his battery, income tax is introduced in Britain, and the Rosetta Stone is discovered in Egypt, inscribed with information - on how to pay your taxes! Eureka Years - 1866 - Charles Darwin's Origin of Species *****Charles Darwin is an international celebrity following the publication of On the Origin of Species. Growing peas in a monastic garden a thousand miles away, however, Austrian priest Gregor Mendel holds the key to the process of heredity, the missing link in Darwin's theory. Eureka Years - 1879 - The Light Bulb and Moving Pictures *****The light bulb and the first moving pictures appeared, and a scientist did a great service to dieters when he forgot to wash his hands before eating his sandwiches. Eureka Years - 1893 - The Internal Combustion Engine *****Henry Ford builds his first car, Karl Benz constructs his first four-wheeler and Gottlieb Daimler succeeds in putting his new engines in horseless carriages. The internal combustion engine, hailed as the answer to London's pollution problem, is born. Eureka Years - 1901 - Age of Electricity ***** Eureka Years - 1905 - Einstein's Theory of Relativity *****Albert Einstein develops a theory of relativity with some help from his shaving mirror and a passing train. Eureka Years - 1907 - Cause of Scurvy Discovered ***** Eureka Years - 1923 - Traffic Lights And Frozen Food *****Clarence Birdseye's observation that the Inuit could freeze the fish they caught and keep it fresh led to an invention which transformed both diets and economies across the world. Garrett A Morgan came up with an idea which would stop traffic. Eureka Years - 1938 - Nuclear Fission Accomplished ***** Eureka Years - 1965 - Advances in Military Technology *****The Cold War saw huge advances in military technology which would later fuel the race to the moon and early versions of the internet. Eureka Years - 6th Century BC - Age of Ideas *****Did Pythagoras really come up with the mathematical theorem that carries his name? How did Thales, the first of the philosophers, demonstrate the worth of science and learning with a little help from some olives? And how do you prove that air isn't nothing?