Do we live in the "real world" or is it all in our mind? Our perception of reality is controlled by society. Thanks to "the optimism bias", we make unrealistic assessments about our own reality. Human senses capture only a small part of nature.
We float along the river of time. But does that river have a source? Where did time come from? Some believe time and space are one thing, and the Big Bang started the cosmic clock. Others believe the universe existed for almost half a million "years" before light could move and time began. Still others say time is older than our universe. But what if time itself is an illusion? Incredible new experiments may hold the answer. One groundbreaking experiment gives us the power to punch holes in time…and another may create a machine that operates outside time’s boundaries!
We are all at the mercy of the Sun. Its glowing disc sustains nearly all life on Earth. But the Sun also holds a dark secret: someday, our aging, expanding star will bathe the Earth in a fiery holocaust. Everything we know will turn to hot, bubbling, plasma.
It's called the speed limit of the universe. Einstein blew all of our minds when he worked out the Theory of Relativity, and showed that space and time were malleable substances. He also theorized that we as humans can never travel faster than the speed of light, which leaves the stars and other galaxies almost impossibly out of our reach. But the dreams of Star Wars and Star Trek are not dead. In fact, there could be ways to travel faster than the speed of light - and some of them are already being tested in labs around the world.
Quantum theory, the best explanation of how atoms and anything smaller behave, is so weird even scientists who have mastered it find it baffling. But bit by bit scientists are finding maybe it's not so weird as comparable behavior is discovered in our every day world. It's just that no one noticed before.
Our minds store our entire lives, our memories and our deepest desires. Tell no one, and our thoughts remain our own. But our brains are biological computers. Computer hackers can tamper with our email. Could brain hackers someday be able to rewrite our thoughts?
Our universe seems real. But what if it’s a videogame? Scientists in a variety of fields are taking seriously the possibility that we live in a virtual reality. Maybe the Big Bang was just the moment someone flipped the switch and turned on our universe. Maybe what looks random has already been programmed to happen. If some advanced civilization did design and program our universe, would we ever know? Scientists are looking for glitches in the laws of the universe that may uncover its hidden code.
Death is life's greatest certainty. But that may be about to change. Scientists have discovered an immortal animal that may hold the secret of endless regeneration. They're on the brink of editing our DNA so that we can cure death like a disease. Or is dying necessary for the survival of our species?
2017 • Science
Every 17 minutes in America, someone is killed with a gun. Politicians can't seem to stop the violence. But epidemiologists, psychologists and big data crunchers are discovering that gun crime spreads like a virus -and science may be able to stop its spread.
2017 • Science
"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
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.
Saiful investigates how humans as living pulsing machines actually use energy, asking whether it's possible to 'supercharge' the human body and increase its performance. Live experiments explore everything from the explosive potential of everyday foods, to what we put into our bodies (and what comes out!), as well as how we measure up to the machines we use every day. Saiful even experiments on himself, showing images captured inside his own stomach. Every single one of us is an incredibly sophisticated energy conversion machine, finely tuned over millions of years of evolution. So will we ever be able to improve the human body's performance? Can we ever do more with less energy?