The Ascent of Man (Ambrose)
A BBC and Time/Life television series surveying the development of science.
- Part 1 focuses on a multitude of evolutionary changes, anatomical and intellectual, giving rise to man's superiority among the animals. New computer techniques illustrate humanity's evolution, while x-ray and slow motion photography of an Olympic athlete in action show the complex interweaving of mind and body.
- Part 2 focuses on how man domesticates plant and animal life. With the Neolithic cultivators come the nomads and the roots of warfare.
- Part 3 traces chemistry from its beginning in Oriental metallurgy and alchemy to Dalton's atomic theory and man's knowledge of the elements. Bronze craftsmen of China and the Samurai swordsmith of Japan are presented as early examples of the use of scientific principles.
- Part 4 traces the evolution of mathematics and explores the relationship of numbers to musical harmony, early astronomy and perspective in painting. Follows the spread of Greek ideas through the Islamic Empire, Moorish Spain and Renaissance Europe.
- Part 5 highlights man's early study of astronomy in the Mediterranean region and the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems. Also explores the conflict between theology and science, the heresy trial of Galileo and the nature of censorship.
- Part 6 focuses on the contributions of Newton and Einstein in the evolution of physics by exploring the revolution that ensued when Einstein's theory of relativity upset Newton's description of the universe.
- Part 7 explains how industrilization and political revolutions altered man's concept of power during the 18th century and points out the significance of these developments in the progress of man.
- Part 8 explores the controversy that swirled around the theory of evolution by natural selection developed simultaneously by Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin.
- Part 9 focuses on the architectural expressions of man throughout history from his efforts to build simple stone walls to his creation of modern Los Angeles. Film includes Greek temples and French cathedrals as examples of previous architecural design.
- Part 10 explores the world within the atom and traces the history of the men and ideas that have made 20th century physics one of the great achievements of human imagination.
- Part 11 considers the moral dilemma which confronts today's scientists by contrasting humanist traditions with the inhumanities of the Nazis and the harnessing of nuclear energy with the development of the atomic bomb. Covers the work of Karl Gauss, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg and Leo Szilard.
- Part 12 examines the complex code of human genetics and heredity, beginning with the experiments of Gregor Mendel and progressing to present day research in genetic engineering.
- Part 13 draws together the many threads of the Ascent of man series as it surveys the complex role of science in the cultural evolution of man and takes stock of humanity's sometimes precarious ascent.