COVID-19 is far from the first pandemic to wreak havoc in the world. A long line of infectious diseases have devastated and in some cases destroyed entire societies. Almost all of them started in animals and made the jump to humans. We are terrified of pandemics. And with good reason. Infectious diseases have cost the lives of countless people over the centuries, devastating families, towns, and even societies. The Black Death spread across Europe and Asia in the 14th century leaving millions dead in its wake. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, European colonists brought smallpox to the Americas, the Pacific region and to Australia. In Europe, the 17th century saw a series of major epidemics. And at the end of the First World War, more people died of the Spanish flu than on the battlefield. This documentary examines the causes of these epidemics - whether it be lack of hygiene, interaction with animals, overcrowding, or the growth of cities - and how people travelling helped to spread disease and promote pandemics. It also sheds a light on the impact these infectious diseases have had on politics and societal change. Today, the world is facing COVID-19. Measures such as quarantine and lockdowns are being rolled out in an effort to control the spread of the virus; and, just as our ancestors did before us, some are questioning how effective they are. Over the centuries, scientists managed to develop treatments and medicines to help control or even eradicate infectious diseases. Virologists are facing that task again with the coronavirus, as the world frantically searches for ways to overcome a pandemic which threatens our modern way of life.
From the first row of planted crops, the practice of agriculture rendered man's hunter-gatherer lifestyles obsolete in favor of settled life and stable food supplies. This led to a skyrocketing population and enabled humans to develop skills outside of gathering the food needed to survive.
Michael Mosley and James Wong explore the effect that our food has on our most important and, in terms of energy consumption, our greediest organ. It influences our diet by generating cravings for foods such as fat - the most energy-rich food of them all. James heads off to Peru to reveal the surprising link that fat-rich, indulgent chocolate has with breast milk. Sometimes these cravings almost become an addiction - like coffee for example. So we visit a remarkable lab where a team is studying the effect of caffeine on bees and how that may help explain the hold that caffeinated drinks have over us. Together, Michael and James take on some of the hottest chillies on the planet to show what the burn does to our brains. Using the latest imaging techniques and incredibly detailed specialist photography, this is a whole new way of thinking about our relationship with food and the powerful effect it has on our minds.
The use of embryonic stem cells has ignited fierce debate across the spiritual and political spectrum. But what if we could create manmade stem cells - or find super cells in adults that could forever replace embryonic cells and remove the controversy? Today, we are on the brink of a new era - an age where we may be able to cure our bodies of any illness. Stephen Hawking has spent his life exploring the mysteries of the cosmos, now there is another universe that fascinates him - the one hidden inside our bodies - our own personal galaxies of cells. Hawking takes us on a fascinating journey exploring what these wondrous and baffling mechanisms are capable of. He is joined by the scientists who are on the front lines of discovery in this field including Dr. Doris Taylor who is customizing a donor's heart with the recipient's stem cells - her goal is to revolutionize heart transplants, Dr. Paul Lu and Dr. Mark Tuszynski may have created a breakthrough that could cure paralysis, and Dr. Vincent Giampapa who believes that stem cells can be used to stem the tide of aging and create a fountain of youth.
2014 • Health