There are numerous instruments and tools I am using to write and publish this article – a keyboard for my input, a monitor to display my words and sentences, a computer to process all inputs and produce outputs, and the Internet as a means to publish this article. All of these devices and tools are possible due to knowledge gained from centuries of scientific research. Some of the greatest minds in science, both past and present, are from Great Britain, and a new DVD series entitled "Genius of Britain" aims to highlight the monumental scientific discoveries British scientists have made throughout the last four centuries.
The "Genius of Britain" series is a compilation of programming originally airing in May 2010 in the United Kingdom. I was fortunate to get a set for review before their US release on May 31st. The DVD set contains two discs of main programming, which are organized into five episodes that chronologically tell the story of famous and impactful British scientists starting from the early 1600s up to modern times. Common scientists for even the US audience, such as Sir Issac Newton and Stephen Hawking, are featured. However, there are numerous stories on famous British scientists that may escape the general US audience (at least those far removed from a high school physics, chemistry, or biology class), such as Robert Boyle (famous for his Boyle's Law of gases) and Edward Jenner (famous for his proof-of-principle experiments leading to the development of vaccines). Numerous other pioneers in many fields of science are also featured, leading to four hours of informative programming. The DVD set also includes an extra DVD by Stephen Hawking dedicated to the "theory of everything", focusing on the beginning of the universe and finding a link for special relativity and quantum mechanics.
The scientific level of programming is geared toward the general audience, and I think the DVD set would be very appropriate for high school science classes. However, even as a graduate student trained in high-level science, I found the "Genius of Britain" set informative and a worthwhile watch. It's also quite interesting learning about famous British scientists like Issac Newton and Francis Crick from a British perspective. For example, though in America we refer to the scientist duo who discovered the structure of DNA as "Watson and Crick", the order was reversed in this series; thus, the narrators chose to mention the British half of the duo first. Perhaps I'm reading too far into this point, but it's just something to note. The pride of the British narrators for their past and present countrymen (and women) is quite evident throughout the series, though after watching "Genius of Britain", it's easy to see why. This set would be a good purchase for anyone interested in learning about the many scientific achievements our friends "across the pond" have accomplished the past 400 years.
The "Genius of Britain" DVD set will be available for purchase starting on May 31, 2011.