BBC FOUR's Light Fantastic explores the phenomenon that surrounds
and affects nearly every aspect of our lives but one which we take for
granted - light.
Light is everywhere, it fills all space but remains one of the most
puzzling, intriguing and enigmatic aspects of nature.
Presenter Simon Schaffer explores the relationship
between life and light, revealing how its true essence has tormented
human beings since classical times.
Human investigation of light has led to a series of scientific, social
and artistic developments. The need to understand light revolutionised
The ubiquitous technologies of modern living - electricity, mobile
communications and, especially, the widespread ability to illuminate
the world 24 hours a day - came into being as the mysteries of light
began to be unravelled.
Viewers can further the investigation of light by pressing the red
button on their remote controls.
Discussing the aims of the series presenter Simon Schaffer says: "Light
Fantastic tells the story of light's meanings through history, science
"The aim was to make what seems familiar into something strange,
so that the technological furniture of the modern world can be given
back its ancestry.
"Without those memories, modern society is trapped by the illusion
that everything that matters is new; or that the past belongs to the
"A radical history of light's importance is all about changing
the way we see, and Light Fantastic tries to do nothing less."
Each film is based around one key breakthrough in ways of understanding
and controlling light.
Throughout the series Schaffer explores the life and work of those
who developed our understanding of light concluding with the achievements
of Albert Einstein, whose theory of relativity caused a profound change
in the way the sciences depict light and the universe.
Viewers with digital TV can access a real-time guide to the oldest
source of light in the universe - the stars.
By pressing the red button on the remote control viewers are taught
how to navigate the sky at night.
Being a real-time service, users will be able to go straight outside
(weather and light permitting) to put their new found knowledge into
Anne Laking, executive producer, says: "This was a challenging and
exciting series to work on. I'm thrilled to have been part of it and
am looking forward to viewers' reactions when it goes out on BBC FOUR."
Paul Sen, series producer, says: "It was a great privilege to work
with Simon Schaffer. He has a rare ability to make the history of science
seem fresh and relevant. I hope his passion and insight come through
in this series."