I love this three-part BBC series that reviews the history of electricity starting with Isaac Newton & Francis Hauksbee and ending with levitating, room-temperature super conductors.
Episode 1: Spark
Episode one tells the story of the very first ‘natural philosophers’ who started to unlock the mysteries of electricity. This is the story about what happened when the first real concerted effort was made to understand electricity; how we learned to create and store it, before finally creating something that enabled us to make it at will – the battery.
Episode 2: The Age of Invention
Just under 200 years ago scientists discovered something profound, that electricity is connected to another of nature’s most fundamental forces – magnetism. In the second episode, Professor Jim Al-Khalili discovers how harnessing the link between magnetism and electricity would completely transform the world, allowing us to generate a seemingly limitless amount of electric power which we could utilise to drive machines, communicate across continents and light our homes. This is the story of how scientists and engineers unlocked the nature of electricity in an extraordinary century of innovation and invention.
Episode 3: Revelations and Revolutions
Electricity is not just something that creates heat and light, it connects the world through networks and broadcasting. After centuries of man’s experiments with electricity, the final episode tells the story of how a new age of real understanding dawned – how we discovered electric fields and electromagnetic waves. Today we can hardly imagine life without electricity – it defines our era. As our understanding of it has increased so has our reliance upon it, and today we’re on the brink of a new breakthrough, because if we can understand the secret of electrical superconductivity we could once again transform the world.