The rains are late. It is the most brutal time of year. Babies born into drought face starvation. The weak and the injured are weeded out. Everything is desperate for rain. When it finally arrives, it is a downpour on an enormous scale. Alien creatures emerge into a different world. The wet season begins.
It’s October in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. The hottest and harshest time of year. But this year dry season conditions are exacerbated by a global El Nino event… the Valley is in the throes of drought. There’s been no rain since April and desperate animals are drawn to the only remaining source of water in the Valley – the dwindling Luangwa River...
The dramatic story of the defense of France against Hitler's invading army in order to enable the desperate evacuation of over 300K men of the British Expeditionary Force and Allied troops across the English Channel to safety in 1940.
In the 15th century, an inventor in a workshop in Strasburg came up with a machine that would eventually change the history of the entire world and shake a religion to its core. The choice of the first work to be printed is an astute one: Saint Jerome’s Latin version of the Bible.
This episode is devoted to the evolution of reptiles. They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, since they can survive in the hottest climates. The reason is their scaly, practically watertight skin. The scales protect the body from wear and tear and in the case of some species of lizard, such as the Australian thorny devil, serve to protect from attack. The horned iguana from the West Indies is also one of the most heavily armoured. The skin is rich in pigment cells, which provide effective means of camouflage, and the chameleon is a well-known example. Temperature control is important to reptiles: they cant generate body heat internally or sweat to keep cool.
On November 25th, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: general relativity. The theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back to the origin of time itself. Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Discover the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory—and Einstein’s brilliance—as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory.”
It’s sexy time with the arthropods! This week David Attenborough takes a look at the courtship rituals of the creatures beneath our feet. But lovebugs won’t want to take tips from these bugs. The male Chilean rose tarantula, for instance, weaves a silk mat; deposits sperm on it, then sucks that sperm into a finger-like appendage near his mouth before he looks for a mate. Then there’s the gruesome, but surprisingly effective, coupling of praying mantis. The cinematography is as amazing as ever, catching the mating battles of tramp ants and providing luminescent footage of the courtship dance of Tanzanian red claw scorpions.
This episode details the relationship between flowers and insects. There are some one million classified species of insect, and two or three times as many that are yet to be labelled. Around 300 million years ago, plants began to enlist insects to help with their reproduction, and they did so with flowers. Although the magnolia, for instance, contains male and female cells, pollination from another plant is preferable as it ensures greater variation and thus evolution. Flowers advertise themselves by either scent or display. Some evolved to produce sweet-smelling nectar and in turn, several insects developed their mouth parts into feeding tubes in order to reach it.
Liz Bonnin delves in to the world of invention, revealing the people and technologies set to transform all our lives. She examines the conditions that are promising to make the 21st century a golden age of innovation and meets some of the world's foremost visionaries, mavericks and dreamers. From the entrepreneurs that are driving a new space race, to the Nobel Prize wining scientist leading a nanotech revolution, this is a tour of the people and ideas delivering the world of tomorrow, today.
An algorithm is a method of solving problems both big and small. Though computers run algorithms constantly, humans can also solve problems with algorithms. David J. Malan explains how algorithms can be used in seemingly simple situations and also complex ones.
Without us noticing, modern life has been taken over. Algorithms run everything from search engines on the internet to satnavs and credit card data security - they even help us travel the world, find love and save lives. Professor Marcus du Sautoy demystifies the hidden world of algorithms. By showing us some of the algorithms most essential to our lives, he reveals where these 2,000-year-old problem solvers came from, how they work, what they have achieved and how they are now so advanced they can even programme themselves.
2015 • Math
By our third year, most of us will have learned to count. Once we know how, it seems as if there would be nothing to stop us counting forever. But, while infinity might seem like an perfectly innocent idea, keep counting and you enter a paradoxical world where nothing is as it seems.
Marcus du Sautoy uncovers the patterns that explain the shape of the world around us. Starting at the hexagonal columns of Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway, he discovers the code underpinning the extraordinary order found in nature - from rock formations to honeycomb and from salt crystals to soap bubbles.
Predictions underlie nearly every aspect of our lives, from sports, politics, and medical decisions to the morning commute. With the explosion of digital technology, the internet, and “big data,” the science of forecasting is flourishing. But why do some predictions succeed spectacularly while others fail abysmally? And how can we find meaningful patterns amidst chaos and uncertainty? From the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election, “Prediction by the Numbers” explores stories of statistics in action. Yet advances in machine learning and big data models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions. How much should we trust predictions made by algorithms when we don’t understand how they arrive at them? And how far ahead can we really forecast?
Why are most manhole covers round? Sure it makes them easy to roll, and slide into place in any alignment. But there’s another, more compelling reason, involving a peculiar geometric property of circles and other shapes. Marc Chamberland explains curves of constant width and Barbier’s theorem.
Simon's adventure starts in the magnificent 'red centre' of the continent and onwards through South Australia, via the extraordinary Indian Pacific Railway until he reaches the west coast city of Perth. On the way, he joins an Aussie rancher in the parched outback and takes part in a spectacular camel round-up. This mad adventure, involving specially adapted off-road vehicles and a chopper, is part of an ongoing effort to stop the damaging spread of up to a million feral camels across the country. Finally in Perth, Simon discovers a full scale British invasion. Working in a mine or driving a lorry can bring a salary of a hundred thousand pounds a year, as evidenced when Simon meets a former bin man from hull who is now living the dream, with a beautiful house in the sun, private pool and his very own boat.
Simon Reeve sets out on an epic journey around the island of Ireland - a place steeped in history, culture and belief, but with a complex past. Part 1: South Simon begins his journey in the south of Ireland, paramotoring with an Irish explorer. On the west coast, he does spot of surfing before climbing Croagh Patrick in honour of Ireland's patron saint. This leg of his journey ends in Malin Head, Ireland's most northerly point.
Northern Thailand is dominated by mountains and cloaked in forest. It hides ancient creatures and surprising partnerships. To survive here, both the wildlife and people rely on maintaining the natural harmony of the mysterious north.
Simon travels travels down the east coast to the magnificent cities of Sydney and Melbourne in the final part of his journey. Simon's journey starts in Surfers Paradise near the city of Gold Coast, the Las Vegas of Australia. Behind the sun and surf, this area has become the organised crime capital of Australia. Police are cracking down on outlaw motorcycle clubs, accused of being criminal gangs. Simon meets the most notorious and feared biker group in Australia to hear their side of the story. Arriving in Sydney, Simon discovers a city of huge cultural diversity closely linked to its booming Asian neighbours, India and China. One in ten Aussies are now of Asian origin. Simon gauges Australia's attitude to immigration and meets the country's first Muslim ladies Aussie Rules Football team. On the very last stretch of the journey, Simon takes to the air to witness the devastating and deadly bush fires ripping through the country, before reaching his final destination, Melbourne, just in time to celebrate Australia Day.
This first leg takes him from the rugged coast of South Africa, where he joins the fight against wildlife poachers, through Mozambique, and on to the tropical island of Zanzibar. On the way, he swims with sharks, meets the refugees who have found shelter in a luxury beachfront hotel, and travels on a huge container ship fortified against the constant threat of pirates.
Join us for a cultural odyssey through little known parts of the southern Carpathians starting at the majestic Iron Gates and the ancient Roman Spa town of Baile Herculane. Charlie Ottley explores the remote Cerna Mountains finding historic working mills, and legendary rock formations. On our journey east we stop at a boutique winery and the stunning Cosia National Park with its grottos and picturesque monasteries. Crossing Saxon Transylvania Charlie visits the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler and meets a Romanian Princess at her ancestral home, majestic Peles Castle. In the second part we leave the mountains behind and meander down to the Danube where it branches to form the largest wetland in Europe. Here Charlie explores tiny fishing communities, fragile forests and labyrinthine waterways teeming with rare birdlife. We also see why this vital ecosystem is under threat and look at what is being done to preserve it.
Imagine you could make a copy of a loved one. A digital clone with a life of its own – their Avatar. That’s the dream of biomechanical engineer, Dr Jordan Nguyen, and he says we have the technology to do it right now in the form of Virtual Reality.
An animated data-driven documentary about war and peace, The Fallen of World War II looks at the human cost of the second World War and sizes up the numbers to other wars in history, including trends in recent conflicts. Visit fallen.io for the interactive version and more information.
Fortey travels to the rainforests of Madagascar - an ancient island that has spawned some of the most extraordinary groups of plants and animals anywhere in the world. From beautiful Indri lemurs, toxic frogs, and the cat-like giant mongoose called the fossa, to evolutionary oddities like the giraffe-necked weevil and the otherworldly aye-aye, he uncovers the secrets of the evolutionary niche - examining how, given millions of years, animals and plants can adapt to fill almost any opportunity they find.
It’s 4am, and the big test is in 8 hours. You’ve been studying for days, but you still don’t feel ready. Should you drink another cup of coffee and spend the next few hours cramming? Or should you go to sleep? Shai Marcu defends the latter option, showing how sleep restructures your brain in a way that’s crucial for how our memory works.
Why should you care about the well-being of people half a globe away?