Africa - home to the greatest wildlife gatherings on Earth, but even in this land of plenty, wildlife faces huge challenges. In the jungles, young chimps learn to use tools to find food. On the savannah, a group of cheetah brothers team up to hunt prey twice their size. And, in crystal clear freshwater lakes, caring fish mothers are tricked by devious imposters. Africa’s deserts are tough too. In the Namib, hyena make epic treks to find food on the beach, whilst in the Kalahari, the bizarre aardvark digs deep to find a meal. But for much of Africa’s wildlife the greatest threat comes from humans.
At a time when the Earth's surface is changing faster than ever in human history, watch cities grow, forest disappear and glaciers melt. In the ever-growing grey of cities one man is feeding thousands of parakeets; in Sumatra a female orangutan and her daughter face life in a forest under threat; while in Tanzania local people use satellites to replant a forest, securing the future for a family of chimpanzees. This is our home as we've never seen it before.
In the first episode, Helen seeks out the colours that turned planet Earth multicoloured. To investigate the essence of sunlight Helen travels to California to visit the largest solar telescope in the world. She discovers how the most vivid blue is formed from sulfur atoms deep within the Earth's crust and why the presence of red ochre is a key sign of life. In gold, she discovers why this most precious of metals shouldn't even exist on the surface of the planet and in white, Helen travels to one of the hottest places on Earth to explore the role salt and water played in shaping planet Earth.
Richard Hammond concludes his look at miracles in the natural world by discovering some incredible animal super-powers. Creatures that can create slime as strong as steel, survive massive extremes of temperature or even turn invisible. Animal super-powers that have inspired scientists and engineers to create brand new human inventions that could change the way we live. He discovers how the husky's paw can help American footballers; how a strange eel-like creature with a skull but no skeleton might be the next best thing to a spider; how the kingfisher could revolutionise air-sea rescue; and how the cuttlefish has enabled a military tank to pretend it's a small family saloon.
Artificial selection is one example, eyes another, of the well-documented and inescapable process of evolution--change in a population of species over time--by natural selection. These are some of the things that molecules do.
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer is one of the most enduring paintings in the history of art, but despite its popularity, the painting itself is surrounded by mystery. Who was this girl, why and how was it painted, and why is it so revered? This film takes us on a journey through the masterpieces of the extensively-renovated Mauritshuis in The Hague in the Netherlands to try to answer many of the questions surrounding this enigmatic painting and its mysterious creator.
We each spend three years of our lives on the toilet, but how happy are we talking about this essential part of our lives? This film challenges that mindset by uncovering its role in our culture and exploring the social history of the toilet in Britain and abroad - as well as exploring many of our cultural toilet taboos. Starting in Merida, Spain with some of the the earliest surviving Roman toilets, we journey around the world - from the UK to China, Japan and Bangladesh - visiting toilets, ranging from the historically significant to the beautiful, from the functional and sometimes not-so-functional to the downright bizarre. Leading the journey is Everyman figure, Welsh poet and presenter Ifor ap Glyn, who has a passionate interest in the toilet, its history and how it has evolved over the centuries, right up to the development of the current design. Finally, there's a glimpse of the future and a possible solution to the global sanitation issues we now face.
2012 • Design
Professor Sir Roger Penrose is more than just a fan of MC Escher's mind-bending art. During the course of a long creative collaboration, the British mathematician and the Dutch artist exchanged ideas and inspirations. Some of Escher's most iconic images have their origin in Penrose's mathematical sketches - while the artist's work has served as a starting point for the professor's own explorations of new scientific ideas. To coincide with the first ever Escher retrospective in the UK, Penrose takes us on a personal journey through Escher's greatest masterpieces - marvelling at his intuitive brilliance and the penetrating light it still sheds on complex mathematical concepts.
2015 • Design
Industrial designer Helen Kerr works on everything from soap pumps to geo-mapping the island of Manhattan. Her team uses materials that can be broken down at the end of an object’s life, so each piece can be put back into the recycling stream.
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.
The brain was once thought to be the body's control tower, issuing commands to the other organs. But scientists are discovering that communication flows between all the organs in our bodies. They transmit messages that can boost immunity, improve memory, strengthen bones and even lengthen lifespan.
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.
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.
You are probably a bit of a blamer - most of us are. But why should we give it up? In this witty sequel to our most watched RSA Short, inspirational thinker Brené Brown considers why we blame others, how it sabotages our relationships, and why we desperately need to move beyond this toxic behaviour.
The acerbically witty and severely facially disfigured broadcaster Adam Pearson presents a personal film about genetics. He and his twin brother Neil are genetically identical and both share the same genetic disease, Neurofibromatosis 1 (Nf1) - yet they are completely different. Adam's face is covered with growths, whereas Neil has none. Neil has short term memory loss, whereas Adam is razor sharp. How can the same genetic disease affect identical twins so differently? Adam is on the cusp of a successful film and television career, but the disease has left tumours on his face that are growing out of control and he could lose his sight. For years, everyone thought Adam's brother Neil had escaped symptoms, but today his life is governed by epilepsy and a mysterious memory loss that suddenly came on during his teens. Determined to save their future, Adam tries to find out why the disease affects the twins so differently.
The treasure map uncovers a mysterious pyramid complex that reveals clues of violent sacrifices; newly discovered cave systems reveal gruesome evidence of ancient Mayan rituals; Albert Lin dives deep beneath the surface of the Mayan spirit underworld.
Do we live in the "real world" or is it all in our mind? Our perception of reality is controlled by society. Thanks to "the optimism bias", we make unrealistic assessments about our own reality. Human senses capture only a small part of nature.
David Attenborough narrates this astonishing story of a wild cheetah family. Known for being fast, captivating and extremely elusive, a new insight into their remarkable lives is offered by cameraman Kim Wolhuter. For nearly two years, he walked alongside a wild cheetah mother and her young family to unravel in intimate detail what it takes to turn tiny cubs into accomplished predators.
Angela Rippon investigates the disease that took her mother's life and is now starting to affect her friends. She undergoes a series of tests to discover if she has any early signs of the disease and makes the difficult decision about whether to take a genetic test that could predict her future risk. Along the way, Angela finds out some of the surprising ways people can help to protect themselves. She discovers why getting a good night's sleep could help prevent Alzheimer's and how learning a new language might be more effective than any current drug treatment. Angela also visits a number of people who are living with the disease, including Bob, the husband of one of her oldest friends. She meets families that carry a gene for early-onset Alzheimer's and discovers how they could be the best hope of finding a cure for this devastating disease.
2016 • Health