Benjamin Woolley presents the gripping story of Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century radical pharmacist who took on the establishment in order to bring medicine to the masses. Culpeper lived during one of the most tumultuous periods in British history. When the country was ravaged by famine and civil war, he took part in the revolution that culminated in the execution of King Charles I. But it is Culpeper's achievements in health care that made him famous. By practicing (often illegally) as a herbalist and publishing the first English-language texts explaining how to treat common ailments, he helped to break the monopoly of a medical establishment that had abandoned the poor and needy. His book The English Physician became the most successful non-religious English book of all time, remaining in print continuously for more than 350 years.
2007 • Health
'Inside Job' provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse.
2010 • Economics
Did you know that we could start building a Lunar Base today?
Cities are growing at a faster rate than any other habitat on Earth. They may seem an unlikely place for animals to thrive, but they can be a world of surprising opportunity. Leopards prowl the streets of Mumbai, peregrine falcons hunt amongst New York's skyscrapers, and a million starlings perform spectacular aerial dances over Rome. In Jodhpur, langurs are revered as religious deities and in Harar, locals live in harmony with wild hyenas. Many animals, however, struggle to cope in the urban jungle. As the architects of this environment, can humans choose to build cities that are homes for both them and wildlife?
In the final challenge of the game of life, raising offspring is the ultimate prize. Continuing the line through the next generation, is the next best thing to immortality. But it’s far from easy... Some parents must risk their own lives for their offspring.
New planets are now being discovered outside our solar system on a regular basis, and these strange new worlds are forcing scientists to rewrite the history of our own solar system. Far from a simple story of stable orbits, the creation of our solar system is a tale of hellfire, chaos and planetary pinball. It's a miracle our Earth is here at all.
Alice Roberts explores the latest discoveries in the study of human origins, revealing the transformation that has been brought about in this field by genetics. Traditional paleo-anthropology, based on fossils, is being transformed by advanced genome sequencing techniques. We now know that there were at least four other distinct species of human on the planet at the same time as us - some of them identified from astonishingly well-preserved DNA extracted from 50,000-year-old bones, others hinted at by archaic sections of DNA hidden in our modern genome. What's more, we now know that our ancestors met and interacted with these other humans, in ways that still have ramifications today. Alice uses these revelations to update our picture of the human family tree.
Professor Jim Al-Khalili discovers the intriguing story of how we discovered the rules that drive the universe. (Part 1: The Story of Energy) Energy is vital to us all, but what exactly is energy? In attempting to answer this question Jim investigates a strange set of laws that link together everything from engines to humans to stars. It turns out that energy, so critical to daily existence, actually helps us make sense of the entire universe.
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.
A witty and mind-expanding exploration of data, with mathematician Dr Hannah Fry. This high-tech romp reveals what data is and how it is captured, stored, shared and made sense of. Fry tells the story of the engineers of the data age, people most of us have never heard of despite the fact they brought about a technological and philosophical revolution. For Hannah, the joy of data is all about spotting patterns. Hannah sees data as the essential bridge between two universes - the tangible, messy world that we see and the clean, ordered world of maths, where everything can be captured beautifully with equations. The film reveals the connection between Scrabble scores and online movie streaming, explains why a herd of dairy cows are wearing pedometers, and uncovers the network map of Wikipedia. What's the mystery link between marmalade and One Direction? The film hails the contribution of Claude Shannon, the mathematician and electrical engineer who, in an attempt to solve the problem of noisy telephone lines, devised a way to digitise all information. Shannon singlehandedly launched the 'information age'. Meanwhile, Britain's National Physical Laboratory hosts a race between its young apprentices in order to demonstrate how and why data moves quickly around modern data networks. It's all thanks to the brilliant technique first invented there in the 1960s by Welshman Donald Davies - packet switching. But what of the future? Should we be worried by the pace of change and what our own data could be used for? Ultimately, Fry concludes, data has empowered all of us. We must have machines at our side if we're to find patterns in the modern-day data deluge. But, Fry believes, regardless of AI and machine learning, it will always take us to find the meaning in them.
2016 • Math
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.
Marcus du Sautoy continues his exploration of the hidden numerical code that underpins all nature. This time it's the strange world of what happens next. Professor du Sautoy's odyssey starts with the lunar eclipse - once thought supernatural, now routinely predicted through the power of the code. But more intriguing is what the code can say about our future.
Professor David Spiegelhalter tries to pin down what chance is and how it works in the real world. A blend of wit and wisdom, animation, graphics and gleeful nerdery is applied to the joys of chance and the mysteries of probability, the vital branch of mathematics that gives us a handle on what might happen in the future. How can you maximise your chances of living till you're 100? Why do many of us experience so many spooky coincidences? Should I take an umbrella? These are just some of the everyday questions the film tackles as it moves between Cambridge, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Reading. Spiegelhalter discovers One Million Random Digits, a book full of hidden patterns and shapes, introduces us to the unit called the micromort (a one-in-a-million chance of dying), and uses the latest infographics to demonstrate how life expectancy has increased in his lifetime and how it is affected by our lifestyle choices - drinking, obesity, smoking and exercise.
2012 • Math
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.
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.
As temperatures hit minus 60 food becomes scarce, and animals such as foxes and hares shed their colourful coats to camouflage themselves in the snow. The end of winter heralds one of the world's greatest feeding frenzies as large ocean predators target the millions of fish who have found refuge in the Gulf of Alaska.
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.
Right now, billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience -- and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it. How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we're all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it "reality." Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.
There’s a chicken waiting to cross the road, but every time she is about to take a step she asks herself "is now the right time?”