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The Day the Universe Changed

The Day the Universe Changed is a ten part documentary series presented by James Burke, telling the various stories of important scientific discoveries and technological advances and how they fundamentally altered how people perceive the world. The series explores nine key moments in the history of the Western world when the introduction of new knowledge or technology has led to profound changes in how people think. The new knowledge or technology includes the discovery of perspective geometry, Gutenberg's discovery of printing, Copernicus's explanation that the heavens do not revolve around the earth, Darwin's theory of evolution, and Heisenberg's uncertainty.

Episode 01 - The Way We Are: It Started with the Greeks
This episode provides an overview of the series; the questioning and rational attitude of the ancient Greeks is at the foundation of Western thought with its continuing exploration of new ideas.

Episode 02 - In the Light of the Above: Medieval Conflict - Faith & Reason
This episode is about the conflict between reason and faith after the Crusaders' invasion of Moorish Spain in the 11th century, discovering libraries, universities, optics, mechanics and natural philosophy.

Episode 03 - Point of View: Scientific Imagination in the Renaissance
This episode shows the astonishing changes that grew out of the study of Arab optics; new discoveries of perspective geometry, new architectural techniques, and the ability to map the world and cross oceans.

Episode 04 - A Matter of Fact: Printing Transforms Knowledge
This episode takes a look at the influence that Gutenberg's discovery of printing had on the medieval world; printing fueled the Protestant movement and it led to the decentralization of knowledge.

Episode 05 - Infinitely Reasonable: Science Revises the Heavens
This episode tells of the discoveries made in science by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton; their discoveries explained natural phenomena better than those of Aristotle, but were in the conflict between truth and religious dogma.

Episode 06 - Credit Where It's Due: The Factory & Marketplace Revolution
This episode examines the reasons for and the effects of the Industrial Revolution. Shows how growing wealth, coupled with innovations in business and credit, created a new industrial society.

Episode 07 - What the Doctor Ordered: Social Impacts of New Medical Knowledge
This episode looks at the rise of modern medicine and public health and their relationship to statistics which doctors have learned to apply to diseases, cures, and epidemics.

Episode 08 - Fit to Rule: Darwin's Revolution
This episode features the emergence of the theory of evolution in the mid-nineteenth century, and looks at how Darwin's theory were used as a justification for Nazism, cut-throat capitalism and communism.

Episode 09 - Making Waves: The New Physics - Newton Revised
This episode examines the evolution of physics through time, focusing on advances in the study of magnetism and its relation to electricity, light, and subatomic particles.

Episode 10 - Worlds Without End: Changing Knowledge, Changing Reality
This episode gives an overall review of the series, pointing out that today's truth will be superseded as our scientific knowledge changes and questions whether moving from one stage of knowledge to another is really progress.


Related Links
James Burke's Connections (1978 TV series)
This is a ten-part documentary series presented by science historian James Burke, exploring the various paths of how our modern technological world came into existence.
The Ascent of Man
This 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.