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YEAR: 2008 | LENGTH: 2 parts (60 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Documentary charting the progress of scientists throughout history who attempted to harness the ultimate limit of cold, known as absolute zero.


Absolute Zero is the ultimate limit of cold – a Holy Grail as exciting for scientists as the North and South Poles were to the great polar explorers. The Conquest of Cold is an epic journey from dark beginnings to an ultra-cool frontier. For thousands of years it seemed like a malevolent force associated with death and darkness. Nobody had any idea what it was, much less how to harness its effects. Yet in the last hundred years cold has transformed the way we live and work. It is hard to imagine life without refrigeration, air conditioning and liquefied gases that are used in everything from MRI scanners to space rockets.


The Conquest of Cold charts the attempts of many great names in science such as Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday and Antoinne Lavoisier to grapple with the perplexing mystery of cold. Beginning with the father of air conditioning, a 17th century alchemist, who turned summer into winter inside the Great Hall of Westminster; and ending with the father of frozen food, Clarence Birdseye, this film traces the remarkable history of how science enabled us to conquer the cold.

Documentary charting rival attempts to reach absolute zero, the ultimate limit of cold, by scientists in London and Leiden. A second race unfolded 100 years later, towards the end of the 20th century, as scientists attempted to produce a Bose Einstein Condensate, a new state of matter predicted by Einstein.


With the winner of each scientific race going on to win the Nobel Prize for their work, ultra-cold research has proved to be one of the most competitive fields of modern science.


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