The promise of quantum computers is that what would otherwise take a billion years to calculate, could be done in a few seconds. First-generation quantum computers have started to appear. Indeed, earlier this year, Google bought one, The D-Wave 2. How will this advance change our future lives?
In the first episode, Andrew looks at how people live in five of the world's biggest megacities: London, one of the world's oldest megacities; Dhaka, the world's fastest-growing megacity; Tokyo, the largest megacity on Earth; Mexico City, one of the most dangerous cities in the world; and Shanghai, arguably the financial capital of the world. Andrew compares the sleek skyscrapers and rapid modernisation of Shanghai to the colourful street culture and geographic sprawl of Mexico City. He spends a night living in a one-room shack in Dhaka's toughest slum, taking his turn to fetch water, cook and clean; and he rents a friend in the efficient and high-tech, but alienating, city of Tokyo. As he gets under the skin of each unique metropolis, Andrew discovers how the structure of each megacity defines every aspect of its inhabitants' daily lives. And he considers what the megacities of the future can learn from the metropolises of today.
The world's most iconic buildings were built in the heyday of the American century, and as New York became the capital for these innovative new skyscrapers, experts used cutting-edge tech to push engineering to new heights.
In the early years, air fields were more concerned with utility than comfort with the first passengers becoming used to enduring the elements as they walked out to their flight. As the popularity of air transport increased, cities recognized the need to provide better service to passengers, and airports grew in design, to become the hub of activity and convenience they are today.
What if aliens landed on Earth? Much of science fiction explores the moment of first contact – what will people do when the aliens land? From H. G. Wells’ pioneering The War of the Worlds to Independence Day, Men in Black, and District 9, Invasion deals with our fears of alien invasions of earth. David Tennant explains the appeal of Doctor Who’s Daleks and Cybermen while John Carpenter and Chris Carter explore the rich appeal of the paranoia fuelled by hidden aliens with The Thing and The X-Files. It also asks what if the monsters were our own creation? With the aid of rarely seen animation tests, Phil Tippett takes us behind the scenes in the creation of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. But not all invasions are hostile. Peter Coyote and Richard Dreyfuss discuss the creation of Spielberg’s spellbinding classics E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There is more than one kind of invasion.
What if our creations turn against us? The idea of creating life has fascinated society since the earliest days of science fiction. The first installment of the four-part series, Robots transports viewers from the first steps of Frankenstein’s monster to the threat provided by the Terminator and the world of Cyberspace. Find out how Rutger Hauer created one of the greatest speeches in all of science fiction for Blade Runner. Discover from Kenny Baker the challenge of acting in Star Wars while inside the body of R2D2, and learn how Anthony Daniels was drawn to the role of C-3PO by concept art modeled closely on the robot from the silent classic Metropolis. Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner) discusses how he managed to create a whole new approach to robot design. The creators of the original Robocop describe how its hidden depths have given it enduring appeal and William Gibson reveals the origins of his seminal novel Neuromancer. From HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Cylons of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica and the world of The Matrix, this is a journey that asks – what does it mean to be human?