Dr Alice Roberts asks one of the great questions about our species: are we still evolving? There's no doubt that we're a product of millions of years of evolution. But thanks to modern technology and medicine, did we escape Darwin's law of the survival of the fittest? Alice follows a trail of clues from ancient human bones to studies of remarkable people living in the most inhospitable parts of the planet and the frontiers of genetic research, to discover if we are still evolving - and where we might be heading.
As the director of one of a world renowned institute for scientific research -- the Institute for Advanced Study -- Robbert Dijkgraaf is a pioneer in the field of mathematical physics. This string theory specialist draws from his experiences to elucidate current advances in physics.
Every 17 minutes in America, someone is killed with a gun. Politicians can't seem to stop the violence. But epidemiologists, psychologists and big data crunchers are discovering that gun crime spreads like a virus -and science may be able to stop its spread.
Humanity is under threat - from storms that seem to get ever fiercer, earthquakes that seem ever more deadly, and killer viruses that are engulfing the globe. Some scientists think it's time for us to fight back. Can we - should we -hack the planet?
Death is life's greatest certainty. But that may be about to change. Scientists have discovered an immortal animal that may hold the secret of endless regeneration. They're on the brink of editing our DNA so that we can cure death like a disease. Or is dying necessary for the survival of our species?
New research is beginning to reveal a hidden force in the universe - one that penetrates space with trillions of invisible connections, instantly linking every place in our world and joining our future with our past. Is the Force with us?
From the detection of gravitational waves generated in space over a billion years ago, to discoveries in genetics here on Earth, we've collected the most compelling science breakthroughs and advances of 2016. Thanks to magnificent, hard-working scientists and researchers around the world, science keeps marching ever forward. And this year saw some discoveries that are absolutely brimming with the promise of greater discoveries, breakthroughs and quality of life in the future.
2016 • Science
Physicist Dr Helen Czerski takes us on an amazing journey into the science of bubbles. Bubbles may seem to be just fun toys, but they are also powerful tools that push back the boundaries of science. The soap bubble with its delicate, fragile skin tells us about how nature works on scales as large as solar system and as small as a single wavelength of light. Then there are underwater bubbles, which matter because they are part of the how the planet works. Out at sea, breaking waves generate huge plumes of bubbles which help the oceans breathe. From the way animals behave to the way drinks taste, Dr Czerski shows how bubbles affect our world in all sorts of unexpected ways. Whether it's the future of ship design or innovative new forms of medical treatment, bubbles play a vital role.
2013 • Science
Professor Robert Winston presents his top ten scientific breakthroughs of the past 50 years. Tracing these momentous and wide-ranging discoveries, he meets a real-life bionic woman, one of the first couples to test the male contraceptive pill, and even some of his early IVF patients. He explores the origins of the universe, probes the inner workings of the human mind and sees the most powerful laser in the world. To finish, Professor Winston reveals the breakthrough he thinks is most significant.
2010 • Science
Saiful explores one of the most important issues facing the modern world - how to store energy. He tackles his toughest challenge yet - trying to work out how to store enough energy to power a mobile phone for a whole year and still fit it in his pocket!
Saiful investigates how humans as living pulsing machines actually use energy, asking whether it's possible to 'supercharge' the human body and increase its performance. Live experiments explore everything from the explosive potential of everyday foods, to what we put into our bodies (and what comes out!), as well as how we measure up to the machines we use every day. Saiful even experiments on himself, showing images captured inside his own stomach. Every single one of us is an incredibly sophisticated energy conversion machine, finely tuned over millions of years of evolution. So will we ever be able to improve the human body's performance? Can we ever do more with less energy?
Saiful investigates how to generate energy without destroying the planet in the process. Saiful begins his lecture by being plunged into darkness. Armed initially with nothing but a single candle, his challenge is to go back to first principles and bring back the power in the energy-hungry lecture theatre. Along the way he explains what energy is, how we can transform it from one form to another, and how we harness it to power the modern world. A fascinating and stimulating celebration of the stuff that quite literally makes the universe tick - the weird and wonderful world of energy.
Comedian Jimmy Carr takes over Horizon for this one-off special programme, produced as part of BBC2's sitcom season. Jimmy turns venerable documentary strand Horizon into a chat show, with eminent laughter scientists as guests and a studio audience to use as guinea pigs. Jimmy and his guests try to get to the bottom of what laughter is, why we enjoy it so much and what, if anything, it has to do with comedy. Between them, and with the help of contributions from other scientists on film, Jimmy and guests discover that laughter is much older than our species, and may well have contributed to making us human. With professors Sophie Scott, Robin Dunbar and Peter McGraw.
Antarctica is the last great wilderness. It's the coldest, windiest, driest and most isolated place on Earth. And every winter, for over three months of the year, the sun never rises. But it's also home to the British Antarctic Survey's Halley Research Station. A veteran of living and working at Halley in the early eighties, BBC weatherman Peter Gibbs makes an emotional return to the place he once called home. A place that, during his time, was key to the discovery of the ozone hole. The journey starts with an arduous 12-day, 3000-mile voyage onboard the RRS Ernest Shackleton. Once on the ice shelf, Peter is delighted to finally arrive at the futuristic research station and marvels at the cutting edge science being done at Halley today. From vital discoveries about how our lives are vulnerable to the sun's activities, to studying interplanetary travel and the threat of man-made climate change. But Peter's journey is also something of a rescue mission. The research station's home is a floating ice shelf that constantly moves and cracks, and the ice shelf has developed a chasm that could cast Halley adrift on a massive iceberg.
What are the origins of life? How did things go from non-living to living? From something that could not reproduce to something that could? Earth is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old, and for much of that history it has been home to life in one form or another. Our planet is teaming with life, from the highest mountain to the deepest ocean; life is everywhere. But what was the firing pistol that started the evolutionary race? How did material go from non-living to alive? It's one of the most fundamental and difficult questions that has challenged us since the beginning of time.
2007 • Science
In this episode of NOVA scienceNOW, journey back in time to the birth of our solar system to examine whether the key to our planet's existence might have been the explosive shockwave of an ancient supernova. Meet a chemist who has yielded a new kind of "recipe" for natural processes to assemble and create the building blocks of life. And see how the head louse, a creepy critter that's been sucking our blood for millions of years, is offering clues about our evolution. Finally, meet neuroscientist André Fenton, who is looking into erasing painful memories with an injection.
Did you know that bananas are berries, but strawberries aren’t? A lot of thought goes into classifying fruits and vegetables, and it all has to do with anatomy.
Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.
The last episode in the series examines how humans perceive and experience time, investigating the internal body clock which tells people when to eat, drink, sleep and relax. The importance of accurately measuring time is explored in relation to human evolution, and there's a debate about whether mankind will ever be able to travel between past, present and future.
How the passing of time on Earth affects life on a variety of levels, from the daily opening of a flower's petals to the evolution of the horse. A swift journey through the seasons demonstrates how caribou spend most of their time on the move, while the flying squirrel's body clock, attuned to the rhythms of the Earth, is revealed to be the most accurate in nature.
First in a three-part documentary series offering an insight into the dramatic forces that shape life on Earth, using speeded-up footage that compresses centuries into seconds. The programme follows the movement of mountains, rivers, glaciers and the sea, and offers a glimpse of what the future might hold, revealing how the Great Rift Valley may well be on its way to becoming the next ocean.
The media have been talking about “genetically modified humans” and “designer babies.” But what they’re really talking about is germ-line engineering: a process that could help eliminate heritable diseases. So why do some scientists want to pause the research?
Ever wonder how the heart symbol came to stand for the actual heart? And why do we speak of the heart as the seat of love, when love really happens in our brains? Is it true that animals only get a billion heartbeats? This week, we give you enough cool cardiac science to make your heart skip a beat.
Is building our own starship Enterprise possible? Will we ever travel between the stars as easily as they do in Star Trek? JJ Abrams' new feature, Star Trek Into Darkness, hits the screen in a golden age of scientific discoveries. HISTORY is there, giving viewers a deep look behind the scenes, on the set, and into the science–amazing new exoplanets, the physics of Warp drive, and the ideas behind how we might one day live in a Star Trek Universe.
How do you know you’re real? Is existence all just a big dream? Has some mad scientist duped us into simply believing that we exist? James Zucker investigates all of these questions (and more) in this mind-boggling tribute to René Descartes’s "Meditations on First Philosophy."
Do you make your own luck or does luck make you? We find luck, good and bad, in casinos, basketball courts, genetics labs and the subatomic world. It's a journey that will radically revise your understanding of the laws of nature and the human brain.
We are all at the mercy of the Sun. Its glowing disc sustains nearly all life on Earth. But the Sun also holds a dark secret: someday, our aging, expanding star will bathe the Earth in a fiery holocaust. Everything we know will turn to hot, bubbling, plasma.
In a powerful conclusion, Brian pieces together this story of creation that started with what Einstein called the 'happiest thought of his life' - the moment that he realised that gravity was far stranger than anyone had imagined. In an incredible experiment inside the largest vacuum chamber, Brian reveals how Einstein formulated a new theory of gravity, which ultimately took us back to the big bang. And how in doing so, we humans found our true place in space and time.
9 year old discusses the meaning of life, free will, alternate universes, and alien lifeforms.
2012 • Science