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
David Spiegelhalter discusses how the work of amateur mathematician Thomas Bayes and statistician Ronald Fisher helped to shape the current thinking of probability.
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.
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.