Clear Blue Skies

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  • Professor Brian Cox guides viewers through 350 years of British science to reveal what science really is, who the people are who practice it, and how it is inextricably linked to the past, present and future of each and every one of us.British science has a long track record of accidental discoveries improving our lot. Wondering why the sky is blue helped British scientists crack bacterial infection, while looking for a way to make quinine helped make our world a much more colorful place, as it led to the discovery of the first synthetic organic dye. But is this the best way to carry on? Professor Brian Cox ends his homage to British Science by looking at how discoveries are made, asking whether it is better to let the scientists do their own thing, and hope for happy accidents, or to only back scientific winners at the risk of missing the occasional gems.


  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on March 21, 2014.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
  • Mode of access: Internet.
  • System requirements: FOD playback platform.


  • Robert Boyle's Vision (2:56) -- How Progress Happens (1:57) -- John Tyndall and Nature (2:45) -- Tyndall's Experiment (1:13) -- Blue Sky and Sunsets (2:28) -- Tyndall Supports Microbe Theory (2:06) -- Sun (2:52) -- Value of Basic Research (2:41) -- Value of Targeted Research (2:09) -- Scilly Naval Disaster (2:08) -- Targeting Problem (1:50) -- Bimetallic Strip and Ship's Clocks (0:52) -- Calculating Longitude at Sea (1:16) -- Victory for Applied Science (1:55) -- Science and Progress (1:28) -- Prolonging Life through Science (1:25) -- Drug Research (3:47) -- Danger of Targeted Research (1:19) -- William Perkin's Mental Qualities (1:50) -- Pursuit of Synthetic Quinine (2:52) -- Discovery of Mauveine (2:54) -- Francis Crick Institute (1:17) -- Francis Crick Institute Philosophy (2:35) -- Need for Pure Research (1:05) -- Science and Society (1:26) -- Credits: Money: In Search of Science (0:45)
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