Artificial intelligence is examined. Included: the effort to build intelligent machines by reverse-engineering the brain and by inventing completely new kinds of computers, with exponentially greater speed and processing power.
From singing whales and squeaking bats to thumping spiders and clicking dolphins, the world is filled with the exotic sounds of our fellow creatures. What are they saying? While we believe language sets us apart, some animals demonstrate they can learn our language—like Chaser the dog, who recognizes hundreds of words, and Kanzi the bonobo, who appears to have a sophisticated understanding of spoken English. But can we decode their own communications? NOVA Wonders follows researchers around the globe who are deciphering an amazing array of clues that reveal how animals share information critical to their survival. Will we one day be able to write the bat dictionary or decode the hidden sign language of chimps? And what can these findings tell us about the roots of our own language?
2018 • Nature
Whether they make you fat, fart, or freak out, microbes play a central role in your life. Right beneath your nose—on your face, in your gut, and everywhere in between—trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi are so abundant in your body, they outnumber your human cells. But these aren’t just nasty hitch-hikers. Many are crucial to your survival. Evidence suggests that a diverse microbiome can keep you healthy and, conversely, a damaged one could kill you. NOVA Wonders peers into this microscopic world to discover the fascinating, bizarre, and downright surprising secrets of the human microbiome, including the world’s largest stool bank, which transforms raw stool into life-saving poop pills.
2018 • Health
Artificially intelligent machines are taking over. They’re influencing our everyday lives in profound and often invisible ways. They can read handwriting, interpret emotions, play games, and even act as personal assistants. They are in our phones, our cars, our doctors’ offices, our banks, our web searches…the list goes on and is rapidly growing ever longer. But how does today’s A.I. actually work—and is it truly intelligent? And for that matter, what is intelligence? The world’s brightest computer programmers are trying to build brighter machines by reverse-engineering the brain and by inventing completely new kinds of computers, with exponentially greater speed and processing power. NOVA Wonders looks at how far we’ve come and where machines are headed as their software becomes ever more…cerebral. How close are we from a world in which computers take over—from diagnosing cancer to driving our cars to targeting weapons? If we place more and more of our lives under the control of these artificial brains, what are we putting at risk?
2018 • Brain
"It's alive!" Since Dr. Frankenstein spoke those famous words, we've been alternately enthralled and terrified by the idea of creating life in the lab. Now, a revolution in genetic engineering and thrilling innovations in synthetic biology are bringing that dream—or nightmare, as the case may be—closer to reality. New tools allow researchers to use cells to create their own DNA and edit it into existing genomes with more ease and less cost than ever before. Along with renewed hopes for treating some genetic diseases, there's serious talk of using the newest technologies to bring long-extinct animals back from the dead – like the team hoping to resurrect the woolly mammoth. Science fiction is quickly becoming science fact. NOVA Wonders explores the benefits and the burden of risk surrounding the controversial new technology
2018 • Science
The universe is hiding something. In fact, it is hiding a lot. Everything we experience on Earth, the stars and galaxies we see in the cosmos—all the “normal” matter and energy that we understand—make up only 5% of the known universe. The other 95% is made up of two mysterious components: “dark matter” and “dark energy.” We can’t see them, but we know they’re there. And what’s more—these two shadowy ingredients are locked in an epic battle to control the very fate of the universe. Now, scientists are trying to shed light on the so-called “dark sector” as the latest generation of detectors rev up, and powerful telescopes peer deeper into space than ever before to observe how it behaves. Will the discoveries help reveal how galaxies formed? In the series finale, NOVA Wonders journeys to the stars and back to investigate what we know—and don’t know. Find out how scientists are discovering new secrets about the history of the universe, and why they’re predicting a shocking future.
2018 • Astronomy
The world's electric grids are aging and vulnerable. Now, engineers are making a dangerous trek to prove there is a better way to bring power to the people. Engineers make a dangerous trek across the Himalayas to bring power to a remote monastery.
Tyger Drew-Honey has never really experienced virtual reality. But all that is about to change. With high-spec virtual reality headsets expected to become widely available within the next few months, Tyger explores how they could change everything - from how we meet up with our friends to the way we have sex. He experiences one of the most successful virtual worlds and has his own lifelike avatar created. And he meets the man who makes robot sex dolls that you can programme via an app on your tablet to be the perfect partner. 'If you don't want her to be smart she won't be smart, if you want her to be shy she will be shy.'.
2016 • Technology
See firsthand why London's Thames Barrier is no longer enough to keep the city safe from rising tides. The system has worked for decades, but due to increased environmental challenges, its location on a flood plain and heavy urbanization, London must now explore both low-tech fixes and some of the most advanced engineering solutions in the world.
From the Stone Age to the Silicon Age, materials have helped drive forward our civilisation. By manipulating materials we have been able to transform our world and our lives - and never more so than in the past century when we have discovered and designed more materials than at any other time in human history. (Part 3: Ceramic) Professor Mark Miodownik traces the story of ceramics. He looks at how we started with simple clay, sand and rock and changed them into pottery, glass and concrete - materials that would allow us to build cities, transform the way we view our world and communicate at the speed of light. Deep within their inner structure Mark discovers some of ceramics' most intriguing secrets. He reveals why glass can be utterly transparent, why concrete continues to harden for hundreds of years and how cooling ceramics could transform the way we power cities of the future.
Volkswagen’s Chattanooga facility, situated on 1,400 acres, is more than 3 million square feet. It employs about 3,500 people. In 2011, the Chattanooga plant became the first automobile manufacturing facility in the world to be certified LEED Platinum. More than 100,000 Atlas SUVs and 700,000 Passats have been manufactured at the plant.
Take to the sky with the dreamers whose work gave humans the ability to fly. From Leonardo da Vinci’s “flying machines” to the modern commercial plane, without these inventions, we may have never left the ground. Narrated by Patrick Stewart.