The Ascent of Man

The Ascent of Man, aired in 1973, is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Jacob Bronowski, looking at human history through scientific and technological achievements from prehistoric era to the mid-20th century. The series consists of thirteen episodes that trace the steps of scientific imagination through history as they happened, where they happened. Throughout the series, Jacob Bronowski shows that it is science that advances humanity and civilization.


The Ascent of Man: Episode 01 - Lower Than the Angels
This episode tells of human evolution from 4 million years ago to 400,000 years ago, using computer graphics.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 02 - The Harvest of the Seasons
This episode explains early human migration, agriculture, the introduction of tools, and the domestication of animals.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 03 - The Grain in the Stone
This episode looks at the development of architecture and sculpture, taking us a journey to Inca cities of Peru, cathedrals of medieval France etc.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 04 - Hidden Structure
This episode traces the history of chemistry from the first use of fire in China half a million years ago to our modern knowledge of the elements.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 05 - Music of the Spheres
This episode is about the evolution of math. Jacob Bronowski explores the alliance of math to music, astronomy, and painting.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 06 - The Starry Messenger
This episode looks at astronomy, tracing the origins of the scientific revolution in the conflict between truth and religious dogma, symbolized by the trial of Galileo.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 07 - The Majestic Clockwork
This episode tells of the evolution of physics, looking at the revolution that occurred when Einstein's theory of relativity upset Newton's elegant description of the universe.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 08 - The Drive for Power
This episode looks at the industrial and political revolutions of the 18th century, which were as significant as the Renaissance in man's progress.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 09 - The Ladder of Creation
This episode is about Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace's ideas on the origin of species - the theory of evolution.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 10 - World within World
This episode looks at the world inside atom, tracing the history of the men and ideas that have made modern physics.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 11 - Knowledge or Certainty
In this episode, Jacob Bronowski talks about physics and the clash of absolute knowledge, the oppressive state, and its misgivings realizing the result of its terrible outcome.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 12 - Generation upon Generation
This episode examines the complex code of human inheritance from the experiments of Gregor Mendel to the discoveries of today.

The Ascent of Man: Episode 13 - The Long Childhood
In this final episode, Jacob Bronowski draws together the ideas of the series as he takes stock of man's complex and sometimes precarious ascent.


Related Links
The Ascent of Man - wikipedia
The Ascent of Man is a thirteen-part documentary television series produced by the BBC and Time-Life Films first transmitted in 1973, written and presented by Jacob Bronowski.
The Story of Science
This is a BBC science documentary series presented by Michael Mosley, exploring how the evolution of scientific understanding is intimately interwoven with society's historical path.