Last Updated: January 31st
Science is a part of all of us. Our desire to discover, explore, and understand the world within and around us is a universal goal and science is the toolkit. Without science, we are lost on an uncaring world spinning through a hostile universe. Science gives us answers. It saves lives. The pursuit of science is an essential part of the human experience.
Below are some of the most intriguing science documentaries and series on subjects that range from the inner-workings of our brain to how we taste food to the great geniuses who helped shape our world. Enjoy!
Bill Nye: Science Guy (2017)
Bill Nye has been bringing science into American homes for three decades. His contribution to generations of kids falling in love with science is incalculable. In 2017, PBS followed Nye as he traveled around the world lecturing about and fighting against climate change. The documentary is a part nostalgic look at Bill Nye’s rise to fame and part crusade as Nye shifts from teaching kids to teaching adults. The film is a backstage look at what it’s like on the front lines of climate change discourse from the POV of a person who deeply cares about our survival.
American Experience: Tesla (2016)
It’s mind-boggling what Nikola Tesla gave us. Radio, remote controls, alternating current electricity, water turbines, wireless lighting, and the promise of free electricity for all are just a few of his innovations. The man, truly, changed our world in innumerable ways that make modern life possible. American Experience: Tesla is the perfect place to start your journey of discovery about just how pivotal Tesla was to modern science and life. The 50-minute run time makes this a perfect lazy Sunday or after work watch any day of the week.
The Most Unknown (2018)
Science is the pursuit of truth. The Most Unknown takes a trip with nine scientists as they do their job. It sounds basic. In that basic idea is brilliance. The film is an eye-opening look at what science and the people behind experimentation and discovery are really doing and who they really are. This is the sort of film that’ll make you fall in love with science for the first time or reaffirm your love for the pursuit of discovery and, ultimately, truth.
Chasing Coral (2017)
Chasing Coral comes from the same team who brought us Chasing Ice. The documentary follows photographers, divers, oceanographers, and marine biologists around the world as they examine and try to save dying coral reefs. The crew examines how the human impact and climate change are killing off reefs at unprecedented rates worldwide and what the solutions are to save one of the great wonders of planet Earth.
Into The Inferno (2016)
Werner Herzog takes us into an erupting volcano as volcanologists risk their lives so we can better understand what makes volcanoes tick. Herzog’s poetic narration paired with arresting visuals and an outstanding synth soundtrack make this film is a lavish treat to watch. Plus, you learn a hell of a lot about volcanoes and how little we really know or understand, which becomes pretty harrowing by the end of the film.
The Story Of Maths (2008, 1 season)
Math is a tool that we use to decipher the mysteries of science and life. This BBC series is only four hours long. So it’s easily binge-able in one sitting. Host Professor Marcus du Sautoy covers the whole subject from Pythagoras to modern day problems that have yet to be solved. It’s an exhaustive and engaging look into what numbers mean to all of us.
Brain Games (2011, 4 seasons)
Take a deep dive into how our brains deal with stress, addiction, competition, food, trust, and language (among others) in this series. It’s a head-scratching and enlightening journey into ourselves that should give you a greater appreciation for the supercomputer capacity of our own minds.
Chef vs Science: The Ultimate Kitchen Challenge (2016)
This is one of the most fascinating hours you can spend with science and food. Scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik and Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing (Marcus) join forces to explore the baffling ways we taste food and, therefore, create food. Miodownik brings a lot to the table as he breaks down how smells and sounds can drastically alter the taste of the exact same foods while Wareing brings an artistic flair to the creation of food. Watching this documentary will change the way you think you taste food forever — and, hopefully, lead you to try some foods you don’t think you like again.
NOVA: Inside Einstein’s Mind (2015)
It’s hard to quantify the depth of what Albert Einstein gave to this world and our understanding of it. NOVA: Inside Einstein’s Mind is a great place to start a journey in knowing just how brilliant and important Einstein’s work really was and still is. The 50-minute documentary is concise in showing how Einstein worked and theorized and breaks down the hard physics into understandable chunks, making this a very accessible watch.
The Mars Generation (2017)
Humans will go to Mars. It feels like destiny at this point. The Mars Generation takes a candid look at the science and big-thinkers behind our desire to explore the red planet and then juxtaposes that with the young people working tirelessly to be the generation that actually gets to put their boot print on the planet. This film is enthusiasm meets dreams. It is science meets reality. It’s an inspirational look at what we, as humans, can achieve when we work towards a single goal.