I try not to spend too much time in front of the TV, but every once in a while I catch a program worth viewing.

One of the shows I am referring to appeared for the first time on Netflix in August, with the title "The Most Unknown." It was a documentary film in the Simons Foundation Science Sandbox series which takes the viewer on a journey with nine scientists as they review and try to understand the universe. The program should appeal to anyone interested in science.

Each of the scientists is from a different discipline, and they immerse themselves into another's work and try to solve the most difficult problems. There is proof that such involvement can result in scientific breakthroughs. An earlier study published in the journal Science had indicated that research within narrow boundaries is unlikely to be the source of most fruitful ideas.

The program begins in central Italy, on a deep-cave journey with the geomicrobiologist Jennifer Macalady — “This is probably the most beautiful slime I’ve ever seen,” she says — she then travels to Milan to talk to the particle physicist Davide D’Angelo about dark matter and dark energy. Dark energy affects the expansion of the universe, and roughly 68 percent of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27 percent. Normal matter makes up the difference. We are much more certain what dark matter is not than we are what it is. It may be made up of exotic types of particles.

D’Angelo then heads to Brussels to the lab of the cognitive scientist Axel Cleeremans, who has him strap on an EEG cap and make a robotic hand move with his thoughts.

In one of the segments, a microbiologist describes how tiny microbes, too small to be seen with the naked eye, can eat greenhouse gases and therefore are a potential solution to climate change. These tiny organisms were not recognized as a major domain of life until quite recently. Based on their DNA sequences and their vast difference in genetic makeup, they are unlike bacteria and thus are classified as archaea — a new domain.

The scientist then travels to Colorado to meet a physicist obsessed with measuring time so precise that it only loses once second in accuracy every million years. As the two scientists converse, they make a potential connection. The secret to the success of the greenhouse-eating microbes may be their particular experience with time. At the bottom of the ocean, strong gravitational waves bend and slow down time. The change is not large, but it may be the clue to understanding the microbes' specific dietary requirements.

The physicist obsessed with time then travels to meet a neuroscientist who studies why humans can't keep time without reference points of activity. In the laboratory, subjects in magnetic resonance imaging machines are asked to guess the run time of video clips. They find that the human perception of time is linked to the activity level in the video. When persons in the video are highly active or move quickly, subjects underestimate the length of the video, and just the opposite for low-activity videos. One implication is that although our life spans are increasing, social media and frenzied news cycles may lead to the perception that life is shorter and less fulfilling.

One of the discussions deals with the search for the derivation of consciousness — the spark that makes us, us. There is something buried inside of all of us that makes us aware of ourselves and our world. Without it we would presumably have no basis for curiosity, no realization that there is a world about which to be curious, on impetus to seek insight, whether emotional, artistic, religious or scientific. Consciousness is the window through which we understand.

In one of the last segments, a Yale psychologist is interested in conditions under which monkeys attempt to steal treats from other monkeys and if they act differently with third-party witnesses.

The director's goal isn’t so much to inform as to inspire, and it’s exciting to watch his subjects step out of their own research and into that of their peers. At two points, scientists giddily say that they feel like a kid on Christmas morning. “Humans get smarter the more things they experience,” Macalady says. It’s a lesson that sticks with us afterward, out of the theater and into the world.

“The Most Unknown” is first-rate television. I suggest parents insist or encourage their teenage or even younger children to spend a hour and half in front of the television watching and learning. After viewing, you might even wish to spend some time discussing the topics with them. There are few better ways to learn how science explains the universe, the world we live in, and the worlds within us.

Max Sherman is a medical writer and pharmacist retired from the medical device industry. He has taught college courses on regulatory and compliance issues at Ivy Tech, Grace College and Butler University. Sherman has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge on all levels. Eclectic Science, the title of his column, will touch on famed doctors and scientists, human senses, aging, various diseases, and little-known facts about many species, including their contributions to scientific research. He can be reached by email at maxsherman339@gmail.com.