Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity
|Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity|
|Genre||History of science|
|Presented by||Jim Al-Khalili|
|Narrated by||Jim Al-Khalili|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||3|
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Open University and BBC|
|Original network||BBC Four|
|Picture format||16:9 1080i|
|Original release||6 October –|
20 October 2011
Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity is a British television series outlining aspects of the history of electricity. The series was a co-production between the Open University and the BBC and aired from 6 to 20 October 2011 on BBC Four. The programs were presented by Jim Al-Khalili.
- Spark: How pioneers unlocked electricity's mysteries and built strange instruments to create it.
- The Age of Invention: How harnessing the link between magnetism and electricity transformed the world.
- Revelations and Revolutions: After centuries of experimentation, how we finally came to understand electromagnetism.
In the first episode Al-Khalili introduces the history of our understanding of electricity and the harnessing of its power. He covers the achievements of these "natural philosophers" -  Francis Hauksbee, Stephen Gray, Musschenbroek, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Cavendish, Galvani, Volta and Humphry Davy.
The programme starts with Hauksbee's invention of a static-electricity generator and its subsequent demonstration to the high-minded. It covers Franklin and the resulting experiments to capture and tame lightning. The narrative continues with Cavendish's investigations of the electric shock received from the torpedo fish. Al-Khalili expands on the development of the electric battery following Volta's discovery that simultaneously licking a copper coin and a silver spoon would generate a tingle of electricity. The programme finishes with the first breakthrough in finding a commercial use for electricity: Humphry Davy demonstrating the first carbon-arc light before members of the Royal Institution.
The Age of Invention
In the second episode Al-Khalili covers the scientists who discovered the links between electricity and magnetism leading to a way to generate electric power-  Hans Christian Oersted, Michael Faraday, William Sturgeon and Joseph Henry.
The development of commercial applications started with Samuel Morse and Al-Khalili then tells the story of the 1866 transatlantic cable. He revisits the War of Currents rivalry between Direct current and Alternating current.
Revelations and Revolutions
In the final episode Al-Khalili brings the story up to date covering the achievements of James Clerk Maxwell; Heinrich Hertz; Oliver Lodge; Jagadish Bose; William Crookes; Mataré & Welker; and William Shockley.
- Gilbert, Gerard. Pick of the day The Independent 1 October 2011
- Hardy, Alex. Digital choice The Times 1 October 2011
- Sutcliffe, Tom. Secrets and lies are worth investigating The Independent 7 October 2011
- Mueller, Andrew, G2: Television. The Guardian 6 October 2011
- The Daily Telegraph, Digital choice 1 October 2011
- Gilbert, Gerard. Critic's Choice The Independent, 6 October 2011
- The Daily Telegraph Digital choice 8 October 2011
- Dugdale, John; Kinnes, Sally. Choice Sunday Times 9 October 2011