Comic Alan Davies attempts to answer the proverbial question: how long is a piece of string? But what appears to be a simple task soon turns into a mind-bending voyage of discovery where nothing is as it seems. An encounter with leading mathematician Marcus du Sautoy reveals that Alan's short length of string may in fact be infinitely long. Ultimately, Alan finds that measuring his piece of string could - in theory at least - create a black hole, bringing about the end of the world.
Tells the dramatic story of a pioneering group of mathematicians who developed fractals from a curiosity that few took seriously to an approach that is touching nearly every branch of understanding, including what happened after the Big Bang and the ultimate fate of our universe.
May 1831 saw the discovery and loss of a mathematical genius; before Evariste Galois met his death in a duel for the affection of his love, he scribbled down a theory which eventually unlocked the secrets of symmetry.
Marcus du Sautoy examines Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorem and the crisis in mathematics that while a statement about numbers might be true, they might never be proven.
Marcus du Sautoy illustrates Georg Cantor theory of infinite infinities, and that some infinities are bigger than others.
Mathematical problems became spectator sports in 16th century, with generous prizes given to the winners. In such a competitive atmosphere, it's not surprising that mathematicians would jealously guard their knowledge - and in some cases, behave very badly.
Marcus du Sautoy discovers how, as Europe fell into the Dark Ages, the development of maths was taken up with vigour in the East. He learns how numeracy made possible great feats of engineering and how India came up with symbols for zero and negative numbers as well as concepts of infinity. The academic then examines the propagation of the knowledge to the West through luminaries such as Fibonacci.
Marcus du Sautoy reveals the Ancient Chinese number system and how their method of calculating figures was very different to they're way of writing them.
Marcus du Sautoy examines the history of mathematics from the ancient world to its modern uses in explaining the construction of the universe. He finds the start of the decimal system in Egypt, the Babylonian beginnings for the Base 60 system, which covers time, and the Greek origins of mathematical analysis.
Marcus du Sautoy demonstrates how Babylonians used quadratic equations to calculate areas of land.
Marcus du Sautoy shows how the Ancient Egyptian number system worked, and the problems with it, and reveals that binary is documented in the 1550 BC Rhind Mathematical Papyrus.
Marcus du Sautoy introduces Pythagoras' theorem and discovery of harmonic series, and Hippasus' irrational number.
Actor and comedian Alan Davies never really got to grips with maths. Marcus du Sautoy lives and breathes the subject. In just two weeks can Marcus make Alan think like a mathematician?
Alan Davies and Marcus du Sautoy visit the UK's National Physical Laboratory, where Mark Oxborrow takes them through an experiment that demonstrates how prime numbers exist in nature, and the Riemann hypothesis.
Marcus du Sautoy takes Alan Davies to Paris to see the Grand Arche, a representation of a fourdimensional cube, or tesseract.
Could the patterns found in Reimann Graphs be the answer to everything? Alan Davies gets a layman's view.
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