In this documentary, Professor John Wass, Professor of Endocrinology at Oxford University, highlights the importance of key hormones and the stories behind their discoveries. Hormones, a term coined by Ernest Starling from the Greek “haumea”, meaning “to excite”, is a fitting name for molecules which act on target cells resulting in a specific function. To date, more than 80 hormones of varying types, such as amines, peptides and steroids, have been discovered in humans. Professor Wass places prominence on testosterone, thyroid hormones, adrenalin and oestrogen. Moreover, the role of the pituitary gland, pancreas and fat cells in maintaining hormone levels is revealed. The greatly accomplished Professor Wass is a fantastic orator and has delivered a memorable and educational documentary.
The new British series Alien Worlds narrated by Sophie Okonedo is a blend of sci-fi and documentary. By applying the laws governing life and basic physics and chemistry on Earth, four imaginary exoplanets (planets orbiting stars outside the solar system) with different aliens living on them are conceived and presented using beautiful computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation.
Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers documents the meeting of estranged triplets, following the dark experiments conducted by Dr Peter Neubauer to settle the famous nature-versus-nurture debate. With the help of an adoption agency, the psychologist aimed to understand the relationship between mental health, parenting styles and genetic predisposition.
Snappy, educational, and only 15minutes long, “The beautiful, mysterious science of how you hear” is a TED talk from Dr Jim Hudspeth about the mechanics of hearing. It makes for a great watch anytime you have a few minutes to spare.
This is the story of Alice Ball, a pharmacology pioneer, whose research led to the most effective treatment of leprosy from the early 20th century up until the 1940s. May this article be a celebration of black history and of women in science.