Episode 1 of 6- What Is Out There

The story starts with Cosmology , which is the first subject.

Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble space telescope

Our ideas are founded on the heritage from ancient Greece,

where two alternative ideas were first proposed: Earth-centered universe, and sun-centered universe.

Copernicus – makes a revolution by placing the sun at the center, instead of the Earth, as was the religious dogma.

Tycho Brahe – gathers data on the objects in the sky.

Kepler – shows that orbits of planets are elliptical.

Galileo – makes the first telescope.

What is the world made of? EP2


Ancient Greeks – world is made of 4 elements: earth, fire, air, water. This is adopted by medieval alchemists. They develop modern tools of a chemical lab.

Joseph Priestly – discovers oxygen, communicates his discovery to An. Lavoisier. A.L. formulates the law of conservation of matter.

Montgolfier brothers – first hot air balloon in Europe, 1783

To make the balloon float, H2O is split to produce H gas (hydrogen)

Romantic movement in Europe

H. Davy (a poet) – points to a “laughing gas”

Perkin – invents a synthetic dye, start of industrial chemistry

(No mention of Mendeleev)

WWI – explosives, poison gas

Atomic theory is formulated

J.J. Thompson – discovers electrons, gets Nobel Prize in 1906

Quantum theory is formulated by N. Bohr

Shockley, working for the Bell labs, invents a transistor

Microprocessor contains many transistors.

“How did we get here?”


Sir Hans Sloane, 1st BaronetPRS (16 April 1660 – 11 January 1753) was an Irish physician and collector, notable for bequeathing his collection to the United Kingdom which became the foundation of the British Museum

Life turns out to have a history

Mammoths went extinct

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɔʁʒ lwi ləklɛʁ kɔ̃t də byfɔ̃]; 7 September 1707 – 16 April 1788) was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author.

His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier. 

Father of natural history in the second half of 18th century

Buffon attempts to measure the age of the Earth by performing an experiment suggested by Newton, i.e. heating up a ball, and seeing how long it will take to cool. Extrapolates to the Earth.

Geology as a science starts to appear from climbing mountains.

The idea of “evolution of life on Earth” also starts to appear during the Industrial revolution in England.

Continental drift was a driving force in the process. Also, meteorite hitting the Earth. Also, adaptation of animals, “natural selection”.

Can we have unlimited power?


We’re a power-hungry culture, e.g. my solar panels.

XVII century – math designed windmills, in Holland

Amsterdam – a hotbed of capitalism in XVII century

England, XVIII century – science comes to the living room

J. Watt and M. Bolton (part of a lunar society) – develop a steam engine.

(The nearest future to us is electrical power, e.g. electrical motor to drive the boat)

1st law of thermodynamics – energy can not be created or destroyed.

Alessandro Volta – invents a battery (last years of XVIII century)

An understanding of the relationship between electricity and magnetism began in 1819 with work by Hans Christian Oersted, a professor at the University of Copenhagen, who discovered more or less by accident that an electric current could influence a compass needle

M. Faraday notes that a moving magnet can produce an electric current.

Unification of electrical and magnetic forces into a theory of electromagnetism. James Maxwell.

Development of hydroelectric power stations.

AC is used for transmitting the electrical current at long distances.

Maria Curie – studies radium. Notes the conversion of mass into energy.

Development of nuclear energy.

What is the secret of life?


Claudius Galen, II century A.D. – a Roman doctor, a physician to gladiators, rich evidence

Thinks liver produces blood, wrote 300 books on human body

Galen saw himself as both a physician and a philosopher, as he wrote in his treatise entitled That the Best Physician is also a Philosopher

·         «Вставайте из-за стола слегка голодными, и вы будете всегда здоровы».

·         «Кто хочет созерцать создания природы, не должен доверять сочинениям по анатомии, но должен полагаться на свои глаза, занимаясь анатомированием из любви к науке».

·         «Хороший врач должен быть философом».

·         «Тысячи и тысячи раз я возвращал здоровье своим больным посредством физических упражнений»

Renaissance – Leonardo studies human body through drawing parts of it, delves into anatomy:

"a branch of biology and medicine that considers the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy (zootomy), and plant anatomy(phytotomy). In some of its facets anatomy is closely related to embryology, comparative anatomy and comparative embryology,[1] through common roots in evolution."

Padua – XVI century, medical students study under Andreas Vesailus (a founder of human anatomy)

England, XVII century – William Harvey, calculates that a human heart pumps 4000 liters of blood per day. Makes a conclusion that blood is not created anew, but circulates.

Galvani – touches legs of frogs with different metals, notes that they twitch

Alexander Humboldt – famous for world journeys, conducts scientific experiments: electricity and human body, his five-volume work, Kosmos (1845), attempted to unify the various branches of scientific knowledge.

Cosmos : a sketch of a physical description of the universe / by Alexander von Humboldt ; translated from the German by E.C. Otté (5 vols.)

«Космос» представляет свод знаний первой половины XIX столетия, составленный специалистом почти во всех областях знания. Разумеется, эта книга во многих частях устарела; но как картина знаний в известную эпоху она навсегда останется драгоценным памятником.

Robert Hooke uses microscope to find out “cells” (XVII century). This discovery is forgotten until XIX century

We need to understand the cell in order to understand life on Earth.

Dyes were used to see different parts of cells (the Industrial revolution)

Need to investigate chromosomes

Morris Wilkins looks at the physical structure of DNA. Works with Franklin.

Crick and Watson discover that the structure of DNA is a double helix in 1953

A structure corresponds to a function. Knowing the structure, we can deduce the function. Knowing the function, we can approximate the structure.

Not only DNA, but the whole of the cell is involved in making life. “Complexity”

In the future: we need to make artificial cells. Then, we can produce artificial organisms.

What are we?


What makes us human?

Egypt – gods weighed our hearts, hence “light-hearted” vs. “heavy-hearted”

England – Willis dissects human brain

Darwin undermines a belief in human uniqueness by studying the emotions in animals

[http:// “The expression of emotions in man and animals] ”, 1872,

The best way to understand “the normal” is to study “the abnormal”

Study of mental patients in France

Freud - > rise of psychology. Treats repressed ideas, desires.

Cajal – performs research into brain, finds neurons

Focus on brain is not enough to understand the modern man. A man is more than brain: he is hands and feet, he is other people, relationship to them.

Computer – a model of the brain. Next we should expect to see robots with brains of computers, interlinked.

Alan Touring – devises a test of intelligence for machines.

B.F. Skinner invents “behaviorism”. “Our behavior is a product of our environment”, hence a need to change the environment to change the behavior. Behavior can be learned, manipulated. Free will is a hoax.

Science – an activity of observation, making models (theories) and testing these. 

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