Genius Of Britain DVD Review: Hawking smart

The latest entry in Acorn Media’s Genius Of series of DVDs is the wonderful five-part Genius Of Britain. The five one-hour episodes are divided up among two DVDs, and a bonus third disc is devoted to the 90-minute film, Stephen Hawking And The Theory Of Everything.

genius of britain

Taken together, this set offers a fascinating glimpse into the minds of men whose theories have fundamentally altered our perceptions of the world. The series is presented chronologically, beginning in 17th century London and “The First Five.” There we encounter architect Christopher Wren, the development of the compound microscope by Robert Hooke, and Edmond Halley’s star maps, and the comet named for him. Robert Boyle’s air pump led to the demonstration of a vacuum in an enclosed space, while Isaac Newton’s mathematical formulations and observations about gravity remain a building block of modern science to this day. The second episode is “A Roomful Of Brilliant Minds.”

Here we move into the 18th century, and are introduced to botanist Joseph Banks, surgeon John Hunter, and scientist Edward Jenner,  among others. Wrapping up Disc One is “The Lights Come On,” featuring great minds of the 19th century. With “Out Of The Darkness” 20th century warfare becomes the catalyst for scientific advancement. Radar, code breaking (an early form of computer science), and the jet engine were all developed to aid wartime Britain. On a more personal level, Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin has saved countless lives.

The fifth and final program of the series, “Asking Big Questions,” looks ahead. The secrets of DNA and nanotechnology are among the topics discussed. As previously mentioned, the bonus disc of the documentary, Stephen Hawking And The Theory Of Everything, is a fascinating film. Additional extras include biographies of the many presenters, including Richard Dawkins, James Dyson, and David Attenborough. There is also a 12-page viewer’s guide. Once again, Acorn has packaged a great British series into a winning and affordable set for the U.S. market. Genius Of Britain should appeal to the big-time science fan as well as the casual viewer and is recommended.

By Greg Barbrick

About the author

Greg Barbrick has been watching TV so long he remembers watching first run episodes of Star Trek.

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2 Comments
On: Monday, June 6, 2011
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

This looks really cool, Greg. 

Several years ago I was jogging around Cal Tech (I just happened happened to live nearby) and stopped in front of this huge carnival tent-like building as I heard an unusual yet distinctive voice from within. It was Hawking giving a talk to the assembled genius masses.  

On: Tuesday, June 7, 2011
mmfiore said:

As an alternative to Quantum Theory there is a new theory that describes and explains the mysteries of physical reality. While not disrespecting the value of Quantum Mechanics as a tool to explain the role of quanta in our universe. This theory states that there is also a classical explanation for the paradoxes such 
as EPR and the Wave-Particle Duality. The Theory is called the Theory of Super Relativity and is located at: 
<a href="http://www.superrelativity.org/" title="Super Relativity">Super Relativity</a> This theory is a philosophical attempt to reconnect the physical universe to realism and deterministic concepts. It explains the mysterious.

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