Science & Technology

 The Ptolemaic system of the universe from the Harmonia Macrocosmica, by Andreas Cellarius, 1708 © Bridgeman Images

The long and complicated history of why there are 360 degrees in a circle.

An eel, probably a serpent eel, from Aquatilium animalium historiea, liber primus, by Ippolito Salviani, 1554 © British Library Board/Bridgeman Images.

The slippery subject of eel reproduction evaded human understanding for millennia.

Alan Bean collecting soil samples, with Pete Conrad reflected in his visor, the Moon, November 1969 © Bettmann/Getty Images.

Overshadowed between two dramatic missions, the success of Apollo 12 was vital to the continuing space project.

From the contemporary publication, 'Experiments and observations on different kinds of air', Joseph Priestley c. 1775-1784

The work of Elizabeth Fulhame made huge leaps in science, despite the obstacles she faced as a woman.

Here’s looking at you: the anatomy of an eye, from Opticae Thesaurus (1572), German, woodcut.

The father of modern optics could not have succeeded had he not feigned madness.

Interior of the passenger car used in Alfred Beach’s subway, 1870.

Problems with public transport are almost as old as New York itself. One proposed solution was nothing but hot air.

Sir Isaac Newton.

In this episode Simon Schaffer, Professor of History of Science at the University of Cambridge, visits three events pivotal to the genesis of Isaac Newton's paradigm-shattering book the Principia Mathematica.

For most of history, different peoples, cultures and religious groups have lived according to their own calendars. Then, in the 11th century, a Persian scholar attempted to create a single, universal timeline for all humanity. 

Talos of Crete

Autocrats have deployed automatons as weapons since antiquity, not just in myth but in reality. 

These walls have ears: telephone exchange, Holborn, London, 1968.

As technology changes, so do ideas about the borders of the self and the nature of privacy.