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BBC-2 Airs "What the Ancients Did for Us: The Indians" (16 March 2005: UPDATE)

Hey, remember when I wrote last April about shooting an episode of a TV show about ancient science with a BBC crew at the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur? Well, it turns out they're going to show it next Wednesday at 20:00 (GMT, I presume). There's a program listing online at


Here's what the blurb says:

"Adam Hart-Davies and Marty Jopson build and test some of the most extraordinary inventions from the world of the ancient Indians. From the hot deserts in the north to the lush south, roving reporter Jamie Darling travels this huge country and tells the stories behind the golden age of Indian discovery. From plastic surgery to yoga, from town planning to metallurgy, Adam shows the lasting effect the Indian world has left on the technology we use today. [With audio description]"

I don't know if it will have any of the Jaipur footage in it, but if you get BBC-2, you can watch it and find out!

Post-show update: Well, it turns out we get BBC-2 here in the Netherlands, so I watched the episode myself. The Jaipur footage of Jai Singh's observatory came out very nicely (and yes, I'm in part of it), and they had other interesting segments on various aspects of Indian science and technology, such as the sinking-bowl water-clock, lost-wax bronze casting, the development of the zero and decimal place-value numerals, Harappan civilization sewage systems, the manufacture of cotton cloth and "wootz" steel, attempts at perpetual motion machines, ayurvedic medicine, plastic surgery, smallpox inoculation, and rocket warfare. Wouldn't you know it, though, in the segment on the water-clock (on which I didn't consult), they quoted the old story about Lilavati and her pearl! But for the most part it seemed very informative and engaging, and it was kinda fun to be on TV.

—— Kim Plofker
2005-03-16 16:19:45

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Created: 08 Oct 2003
Last modified: Oct 15, 2004 3:58:04 PM
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