A selection of scientific documentaries

Documentary films are no easier to shoot than feature films, and sometimes even more difficult when it comes to scientific films. A scientific film must not only be authentic. The picture needs to capture, enthrall and explain complex concepts well, so that as a result ordinary people would be among the audience, and not the scientists themselves.

The more valuable to meet high-quality scientific film, popularizing scientific knowledge.

Below are some intriguing, voluminous and non-trivial documentaries and series created in recent years, on topics of concern to most of Hiktaim’s audience - from the inner workings of our brain to the birth of the Universe and everything else between them.


The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries (2012)

Neil Degrass Tyson is not just a popularizer of science - the legendary astrophysicist, writer, doctor of science and a very charming man, telling about the mysteries of the cosmos. Neil Tyson's inexplicable Universe series contains a huge amount of data you would like to know about the Universe, astrophysics, ordinary physics, and our solar system. And may this work be inferior to the subsequent Tyson show, it still presents many interesting facts. Posted version without translation.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014)

After the series “Cosmos: Odyssey through space and time”, even those who had never been interested in intergalactic riddles learned about Neil Tyson. The project was a continuation (and at the same time a restart) of the 1980 series Space: Personal Journey, which was moderated by Karl Sagan.

For 13 episodes, a huge number of topics are revealed: from the Big Bang to the appearance of people, affecting black holes, the evolution of stars, galaxies and the life of a person. The series is primarily aimed at a teenage audience, implicitly urging to continue to search for answers and explore distant stars, but will be interesting at any age (if you are not an expert in astrophysics).

Alien Planet (2005)

“And what if we are not alone in the Universe?” The answer to this question usually implies some kind of reaction from the earthlings, who were invaded by the hostile (or, on the contrary, intelligent and progressive) aliens. But everything could be different - it is we who may turn out to be aliens who invaded another intelligent world.

This animated documentary explores a possible futuristic scenario in which technology will allow us to explore other planets. The film introduces the viewer to the planet Darwin IV, on which intelligent robots sent from Earth discover life. Based on the predictions of various scientists, the authors of "Alien Planet" created a whole world with its own atmosphere, laws and dozens of new alien species.

Cosmic Voyage (1996)

Documentary short film, voiced by Morgan Freeman twenty years ago (without translation). The film remains relevant because of its structure - it presents an interesting approach to the study of the size of the Universe, we are shown and tiny subatomic particles, and the space near the boundaries of the Metagalaxy.


Let there be light (2017)

After the ISS and the BAC, humanity is preparing for a new ambitious research project. ITER is an experimental thermonuclear reactor, which is already under construction in the south of France and in 2022 should make a revolution in the global energy industry.

The use of practically inexhaustible thermonuclear energy requires the solution of the most complex engineering problems with the costs of enormous financial, technological, and human resources. Are such investments justified in a project whose efficiency no one can guarantee?

The film is currently available only at festivals. It can be seen in Moscow until October 29.

Quantum Revolution (2015)

"Quantum Revolution" in simple language explains the essence of complex quantum mechanics. The story begins in 1911, when the world's leading scientists gathered in Brussels (Belgium) to discuss the development of modern physics in general, and quantum physics in particular. This is a Belgian film, so this approach to the narrative is not at all accidental.

Here is a sample of a high-quality scientific film in which the nature of the microworld and the fascinating stories of physicists who are preparing a new scientific revolution are clearly and authentically shown.

In translation, you can watch now at the festival in Moscow . Or wait, when laid out in the network.

The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time (2011)

Time is the greatest illusion. Does time exist or is it not, has not been and will not be? Philosophers have always been interested in this question, but scientists have paid attention to it in the last century, when Einstein’s special and general theory of relativity changed our view of time as a universal constant.

Based on the book by Brian Green, a scientist and popularizer of science, “The Fabric of the Cosmos: space, time and texture of reality ” (translated into Russian), the film “The Illusion of Time” provides a basic understanding of the past, present and future. In the book itself, the author avoided mentioning the formulas (“each formula reduces the number of readers of the book in half”), explaining mathematics in simple language, and in the film took the same approach as a basis.

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Quantum Leap (2011)

One of the leading physicists of our time, the author of the book-finalist of the Pulitzer Prize "Elegant Universe", Brian Green clearly explains the complex concepts of the quantum world. This film describes uncertainty and quantum entanglement, and also discusses a theory suggesting the possibility of the existence of teleportation and quantum computers.

By the way, we recommend to look at other works from the “The Fabric of the Cosmos” series. We should also mention the film “String Theory & M-Theory”, in which Green tries to compare the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory in order to create the Theory of Everything, explaining the whole Universe.

Michio Kaku: The Universe in a Nutshell (2011)

The Universe in a Nutshell is a 2001 book by the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, in which the author tries to come closer to the Theory of Everything — the underlying theory that could explain all phenomena in the Universe.

Ten years later, Hawio was followed by Michio Kaku - a scientist, popularizer of theoretical physics and modern concepts about the structure of the universe, a frequent guest of various documentaries. Michio demonstrates various concepts that would allow to describe the whole nature of the Universe with one simple formula, understandably, as Einstein E = mc 2 . If somewhere there is a version with a translation, write in the comments.

The Simulation Hypothesis (2015)

The simulation hypothesis assumes that we all do not exist in the real world, but in its reflection, created in various ways (for example, using computer simulation that generates around us what is considered to be reality). Is it possible to test this hypothesis and prove the existence of a genuine material world?

In this documentary, cosmologist Max Tegmark, astrophysicist Neil Tyson, physicist Paul Davis, theoretical physicist Sylvester James Gates, and many other scientists review all the evidence for a simulation hypothesis from different areas of knowledge. Alas, there is still no official translation.


Human scale (2012)

Danish film about the consequences of urbanization. At the current pace of construction and migration, 80% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. Architect and Professor Ian Gale studied human behavior in cities for over 40 years. The professor put forward a theory which is explored in a scientific film, according to which all modern cities divide people and deny human interaction. At the same time, it is possible to build cities in such a way that they meet the human need for engagement and close communication.

Machine of Human Dreams (2016)

Dr. Ben Herzel is a unique personality. It is enough to pay attention to the list of his posts: Aidyia Holdings, Chief Financial Forecasting Specialist, Novamente LLC, a privately held artificial intelligence software company, and Biomind LLC, a bioinformatics company, which provides artificial intelligence for bioinformatic data analysis; Chairman, Artificial General Intelligence Society and the OpenCog Foundation; Vice President of the non-profit organization Humanity +; scientific consultant to the biopharmacological company Genescient Corp .; Research Fellow of Intelligent Systems at Fujian Key Lab. Xiamen University, China; Consultant and Head of Research at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (formerly Singularity Institute). In addition, he managed to publish more than ten scientific books and a huge number of journalistic articles.

The activities of Gozel can be described in one sentence - he is conducting research to create strong artificial intelligence. The film “The Human Dream Machine” focuses on the startup researcher Opencog, but this is not a success story (AI has not yet been created), but an honest look at the possibility of privately developing the most revolutionary product in the history of mankind.

Future of Energy 2050 (2011)

By 2050, the world's population will be close to 9 billion, and the demand for Earth’s energy resources will be huge. The current approach to the future involves the use of alternative energy sources, but not everyone agrees. Shell has prepared a study that oil and gas will remain an important part of the global energy balance for many decades to come.

NOVA: Can We Live Forever? (2011)

Eternal life is not a theoretical abstraction. At least, we know organisms that can live for a very long time - hundreds of years. Disease prevention, geroprotectors and gene therapy are already prolonging our lives. How far can we go in this direction? Nova ScienceNow investigates whether we can live forever. A good translation of this film does not hurt.

I Lost My Job (2013)

European documentary (without translation) on technological unemployment. Robotics and automation already take a monotonous job, but this is only the beginning of a global process. The film also discusses the mechanisms of protection that society can use, as well as the social consequences of prolonged unemployment.

IBM Watson: Smartest Machine ever built (2011)

Another film from the science show Nova, which tells about the history of the creation of the IBM Watson computer system, which many experts call the most advanced expert system in the world. The film requires you to speak English.

If you are interested in this work (and also the topic of AI is generally interested), we recommend that you watch the documentary “ALPHAGO” about Deep Mind's AI. The premiere in Russia will be held in October during the festival of scientific cinema.


Blackfish (2013)

Awesome and very dark documentary work telling about the history of the Tilikum orca in the SeaWorld marine park. The director of the film “Black Fin” Gabriela Kaupertvayte decided to study in detail the life of Tilikum in order to find out why this animal committed two murders of female trainers, between which there was a gap of ten years.

But in fact, this is a story about the fate of all killer whales in all the oceanariums of the world and our lack of understanding of what reason, consciousness and intellect are. The film explores why intelligent wild animals should not be kept in captivity and uncover the problems of cruelty when animals are used as entertainment.

The Enemies of Reason (2007)

A whole series of films in which evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins successfully explores alternative medicine methods. Successful for science and bad for medicine, which cannot be considered science-based - Dawkins believes that there is no scientific evidence of the effectiveness of the methods being studied, but for some reason people still believe in them.

Other topics

The Story Of Maths (2008)

Mathematical models and algorithms today are responsible for making important decisions affecting our daily lives, moreover, they themselves control our world. The BBC “The History of Mathematics” series shows the origins of science from ancient times and traces the entire history of mathematics up to the most stunning problems and discoveries of our time. A comprehensive look at how numbers affect everyone.

Bitcoin Shape the Future (2017)

And here is the novelty that the creators have already laid out in open access. Chinese director Li Yunqi made a bitcoin documentary. The concept of blockchain is gradually becoming public domain. Representatives of investment companies, miners, scientists gathered together to tell the story of the blockchain and Bitcoin.

Regardless of the extent of your knowledge in science, there is always something new. However, scientific documentary films, deepening knowledge, can be very interesting, but not always accurate. Sometimes in pursuit of popularity, scientific journalists deliberately simplify some things, making mistakes. Therefore, a documentary is not a science in its pure form, not a study, not a meta-analysis. First of all, this is a film designed for the widest audience. Remember this. And if an hour of video did not satisfy your interest, it is always better to do more detailed research.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/407019/

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