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Light and Dark

Mon Nov 25, 9-10pm, BBC4

Series three, episode four
Shadows, whispering kids, fairgrounds, an eerie, distorted soundtrack… The team behind the ‘Dark’ instalment of this two-parter really give it everything in a bid to freak us out when actually, all you need to do is pay attention. The facts and figures are quite mindblowing enough, as Jim Al-Khalili takes us from the eighteenth-century discovery of Uranus to our ongoing wranglings with dark matter.

But Professor Jim isn’t just a mathematical intermediary between scientists and the man in the street; he’s an emotional one as well. Astronomer Paul Murdin seems like a lovely guy, but was his response to discovering the first black hole in 1972 really, ‘I felt really rather happy with myself, actually.’?

It’s up to our host to apply the human touch to a load of equations, which he does with ease. But even Jim can’t disguise how humbling and unsettling it is to understand that, the more we learn about the universe, the less we realise we know about it.