The Eureka Years
The Complete Third Radio 4 Series

Presenter: Adam Hart-Davis
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 67770 7
Available 01 October 2007

Adam Hart-Davis presents all four programmes from the complete third series of BBC Radio 4's The Eureka Years. The long history of science is illuminated by eureka moments - occasional and startling breakthroughs that change the way we think about ourselves and our universe...

Adam Hart-Davis (What The Romans Did For Us) presents this third series of The Eureka Years for BBC Radio 4. In it he tells the story of unique moments in four particular years - 1965, 1866, 1628 and 1905 - when great leaps were made in our understanding of astronomy, medicine, biology, space and time.

In 1965, Adam Hart-Davis examines how mankind's peculiar gift for self-destruction fuelled the race to the moon. He leafs through a book published in 1628, which described, for the first time, how blood circulates around the human body. In 1866, Charles Darwin was already a controversial celebrity, but an obscure priest growing peas in an Austrian monastic garden was about to lay the groundwork for modern genetics. And in 1905, a young man called Albert Einstein changed our understanding of space and time, and had the most remarkable year of his life. With his irrepressible enthusiasm for science and a talent for telling great stories, Hart-Davis guides us through some astonishing moments that really did change our world.

The Eureka Years is an incredibly well produced and presented show, with Hart-Davis never patronising his listeners, but at the same time not confusing them with too much technological dialogue.

By far and a way the most interesting episode, to my mind, is the fourth episode which concerns Einstein's theory of general relativity. Those that have never really understood this theory will certainly come away from this episode with a much clearer idea of what all the fuss is about and give you food for thought.

What is rather peculiar about this series is that each episode ends - in what appears to be in mid-flow.

At the end of the day The Eureka Years is an interesting and entertaining series that will certainly get the old grey matter ticking.

Nick Smithson

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