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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

GENIUS SEASON (article first published : 2004-01-26)

The scientific and technological advances being made today are built upon the discoveries of the past. In a programme titled Genius Season, BBC World on DStv is to profile some of the greatest scientific geniuses, past and present.

The programme will be broadcast every Saturday at 00h10.

Stephen Hawking (February 7): A profile of Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge professor who, though confined to a wheelchair by the onslaught of motor neurone disease, has become a scientific superstar and best-selling author. Hawking is one of the world's leading theoretical physicists. Many consider him to be the most brilliant since Einstein. Since 1979, he's held the post of Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University – which was once held by Sir Isaac Newton, and has 12 honourary degrees. His book, A Brief History of Time, has been translated into 33 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Robert Hooke – Victim Of Genius (February 14): Robert Hooke is one of the most neglected natural philosophers of all time. The inventor of, amongst other things, the iris diaphragm (cameras), the universal joint (motor vehicles), the balance wheel (watches), the originator of the word “cell” in biology, he was Surveyor of the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. He was also an architect, experimenter, worked in astronomy - yet is known mostly for Hooke's Law. He fell out with Newton, and certainly had a difficult temperament… but his enduring appeal suggests that he deserves more recognition than he has achieved.

Sir Paul Nurse (February 21: Paul Nurse has been at the very front line of the fight against one of the world's biggest killers, cancer. Alongside his colleagues, Sir Paul was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001. His work started with postgraduate experiments on yeast and led to the discovery of the gene which controls cell division. It has brought him a world-wide reputation second to none, but his background is anything but glamorous. Born in Norwich, England, he was brought up in North London. An eighth birthday present of a telescope began his fascination with science and he graduated in Biology from Birmingham University, the first of his family to go to university.

No Ordinary Genius – Richard Feynman - Parts 1 & 2 (February 28 and March 6): Physics superstar, artist, drummer, legendary teacher, and storyteller, Richard Feynman died in 1988. This two-part documentary traces his remarkable path from Childhood in Far Rockaway, New York, where he learned science from his salesman father, to his death in Los Angeles following a ten-year battle with cancer. The programme covers Feynman’s central involvement with the birth of the bomb, his tragic love affair with his first wife, Arline, his work on quantum electrodynamics which won him a Nobel Prize, and his key contribution to finding the cause of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. Feynman was a unique combination of genius and simplicity - irreverent, but always disarmingly honest.




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