A Confusion of Names • 2011 • episode "1/3" Botany: A Blooming History

Category: Nature
Download:

What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.

Botany: A Blooming History • 2011 • 3 episodes •

A Confusion of Names

What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.

2011 • Nature

Photosynthesis

The air we breathe, and all the food we eat, is created from water, sunlight, carbon dioxide and a few minerals. It sounds simple, but this process is one of the most fascinating and complicated in all of science, and without it there could be no life on earth. For centuries people believed that plants grew by eating soil. In the 17th century, pioneer botanists began to make the connection between the growth of a plant and the energy from the sun. They discovered how plants use water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce sugars - how, in fact, a plant grows. The process of photosynthesis is still at the heart of scientific research today, with universities across the world working hard to replicate in the lab what plants do with ruthless efficiency. Their goal is to produce a clean, limitless fuel and if they get it right it will change all our lives.

2011 • Nature

Hidden World

For 10,000 years or more, humans created new plant varieties for food by trial and error and a touch of serendipity. Then 150 years ago, a new era began. Pioneer botanists unlocked the patterns found in different types of plants and opened the door to a new branch of science - plant genetics. They discovered what controlled the random colours of snapdragon petals and the strange colours found in wild maize. This was vital information. Some botanists even gave their lives to protect their collection of seeds. American wheat farmer Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel peace prize after he bred a new strain of wheat that lifted millions of people around the world out of starvation. Today, botanists believe advances in plant genetics hold the key to feeding the world's growing population.

2011 • Nature

You might also like

On Thin ice

David Attenborough journeys to both Polar Regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet. David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be Open Ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face-to-face with a tranquilised female, and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears. In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space; the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer, as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun's energy. Next David travels to see what's happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level. Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic - David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It's not just the ice that is changing - ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet - the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.

7/7Frozen Planet • 2011 • Nature

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

Investigates the greatest vanishing act in the history of our planet - the sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Experts suspect that the dinosaurs were wiped out after a city-sized asteroid smashed into the Gulf of Mexico causing a huge crater. But until now, they haven't had any proof. In a world first, evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod joins a multi-million pound drilling expedition into the exact spot the asteroid hit to get hard evidence of the link. The team overcomes huge obstacles as it attempts to drill 1,500 metres beneath sea level to pull up rock from the Chicxulub crater.

2017 • Nature

Facing Extinction

Sharks are among the most misunderstood predators on the planet, but an international team of scientists is trying to change that. Their research is revealing that sharks can be sociable and intelligent, and they could even help solve some of the toughest medical challenges of the 21st century. However, their breakthroughs come just as many sharks face extinction. Science may now be the only way to save them.

3/3Shark: Beneath the Surface • 2015 • Nature

Mini Giants

Gorillas, rhinos, and elephants, three of nature's largest animals, deliver enormous babies. But the immense size of these newborns stands in stark contrast to their vulnerability. Everything from feeding to protection against predators to learning essential life skills falls on one devoted parent: their mothers.

S1E1Baby Animals • 2016 • Nature

Heart of Darkness

Pouring out of Lake Victoria, the Nile bursts into life, growing vast with sandy banks and mighty rapids. Under the scorching sun, elephant herds leave the savannah to drink and bathe in the river.

2/3Wild Nile • 2014 • Nature

Belize

The Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest coral reef system in the world. Estimated to be nearly 4,000 years old, its waters are home to an immense marine ecosystem. Explore a deep blue wilderness brimming with rare, exotic fish, sea turtles, sharks, and huge green morays.

5Great Blue Wild • 2017 • Nature