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When Big Ben first appeared on London’s skyline, people marvelled at the fact that it only lost one second per hour. Now, boffins are well on their way to creating a clock that will be accurate to within a second across the lifespan of the universe. But what fuels humanity’s obsessive need to measure, ratify and quantify?
Well, time is money and Marcus du Sautoy comes close here to pinpointing the exact moment when that tiresome aphorism came into being. In stylistic terms, this is very much BBC4 business as usual; a chatty, likeable enthusiast breathing life into material that, in lesser hands, could be somewhat dry. Whether it will manage to sustain itself for another two episodes is anyone’s guess, but this is an engaging opening salvo.