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24 September 2014
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Simon Schaffer presents Light Fantastic

Light Fantastic on BBC FOUR

Starts Wednesday 1 December at 9.00pm


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 world.

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 and technology.

"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 conservative.

"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 practice.

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."


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