How do animals experience the world around them? How does what they see impact their place in nature and how has their place in nature impacted what they see? We asked Professor Thomas Cronin to show us how the most interesting and prolific eyes in the animal kingdom work and how they came to be.
2018 • Nature
The life story and achievements of dreamer and physicist Albert Einstein.
2008 • People
On a cosmic time scale, human history is as brief as the blink of an eye. By compressing all 13.8 billion years of time into a 10 minute scale, this video shows just how young we truly are, and just how ancient and vast our universe is. Starting with the big bang and culminating in the appearance of homo sapiens, this experience follows the unfolding of time at 22 million years per second, adhering closely to current scientific understanding.
2018 • Astronomy
Predictions underlie nearly every aspect of our lives, from sports, politics, and medical decisions to the morning commute. With the explosion of digital technology, the internet, and “big data,” the science of forecasting is flourishing. But why do some predictions succeed spectacularly while others fail abysmally? And how can we find meaningful patterns amidst chaos and uncertainty? From the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election, “Prediction by the Numbers” explores stories of statistics in action. Yet advances in machine learning and big data models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions. How much should we trust predictions made by algorithms when we don’t understand how they arrive at them? And how far ahead can we really forecast?
Black holes are the most enigmatic and exotic objects in the universe. They’re also the most powerful; with gravity so strong it can trap light. And they’re destructive, swallowing entire planets, even giant stars. Anything that falls into them vanishes…gone forever. Now, astrophysicists are realizing that black holes may be essential to how our universe evolved—their influence possibly leading to life on Earth and, ultimately, us. In this two-hour special, astrophysicist and author Janna Levin takes viewers on a journey to the frontiers of black hole science. Along the way, we meet leading astronomers and physicists on the verge of finding new answers to provocative questions about these shadowy monsters: Where do they come from? What’s inside? What happens if you fall into one? And what can they tell us about the nature of space, time, and gravity?
Blue Planet II explores parts of the ocean that nobody has ever visited, encountered extraordinary animals, and discovered new insights into life beneath the waves. In Our Blue Planet, Sir David Attenborough examines the impact of human life on life in the ocean. In this final episode, we uncover the impact that our modern lives are having on our best-loved characters from across the series, including devoted albatross parents unwittingly feeding their chicks discarded plastic and mother dolphins potentially exposing their newborn calves to pollutants through their contaminated milk. Scientists have even discovered that increasing noise levels may stop baby clownfish finding their way home.
At the coast, two worlds collide. Coasts is the story of how our Blue Planet’s wildlife survives in this ever changing world. It’s a roller-coaster ride of heart stopping action and epic drama, with characters from beautiful to bizarre. This episode is a rollercoaster ride of heart-stopping action and epic drama, peopled with characters from the beautiful to the bizarre. We meet fish that live on dry land and puffins that must travel 60 miles or more for a single meal, and witness a life-and-death struggle in a technicolour rock pool.
Footage of wildlife inhabiting underwater kelp forests, including thousands of giant cuttlefish spawning along a restricted area of rocky reef off the south coast of Australia. Males outnumber females 11 to one, which leads to fierce competition. Larger males use brute force to drive off competition, while their smaller rivals use deception by mimicking the appearance of females. The programme also features tiger sharks hunting for green turtles in fields of seagrass and spider crabs trying to avoid predators while they shed their shells.
The big blue is the world's greatest wilderness, far from shore and many kilometres deep. It's a vast marine desert where there is little to eat and nowhere to hide. Yet it's home to some of the biggest and most spectacular creatures on earth. This episode reveals what it takes to survive in this savage and forbidding world. We witness feats of incredible endurance, moments of high drama and extraordinary acts of heart-wrenching self-sacrifice. Every animal in the big blue must find their own unique way to survive.
Our lives are going digital. We shop, bank, and even date online. Computers hold our treasured photographs, private emails, and all of our personal information. This data is precious—and cybercriminals want it. Now, NOVA goes behind the scenes of the fast-paced world of cryptography to meet the scientists battling to keep our data safe. They are experts in extreme physics, math, and a new field called "ultra-paranoid computing," all working to forge unbreakable codes and build ultra-fast computers. From the sleuths who decoded the world's most advanced cyber weapon to scientists who believe they can store a password in your unconscious brain, NOVA investigates how a new global geek squad is harnessing cutting-edge science—all to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
Coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine species. Survival in these undersea mega-cities is a challenge with many different solutions. A turtle heads to the reef's equivalent of a health spa - but she must use trickery to avoid the queue. A remarkable Grouper uses the fish equivalent of sign language to collaborate with an octopus, flushing their prey out of hiding holes. A metre-long, ferocious-jawed Bobbit Worm hides in its tunnel. Monocle Bream retaliate by squirting water to expose its sandy lair.
The deep is perhaps the most hostile environment on earth, at least to us - a world of crushing pressure, brutal cold and utter darkness. We have barely begun to explore it, and yet it is the largest living space on the planet. Scientists already think that there is more life in the deep than anywhere else on earth. This episode takes us on an epic journey into the unknown, a realm that feels almost like science fiction. We discover alien worlds, bizarre creatures and extraordinary new behaviours never seen before. We encounter savage hordes of Humboldt squid hunting lanternfish in the depths and coral gardens flourishing in absolute darkness, with more species of coral to be found in the deep than on shallow tropical reefs.. Narrated by David Attenborough,
NOVA follows a team of volcano sleuths as they embark on a worldwide hunt for an elusive volcanic mega-eruption that plunged the medieval earth into a deep freeze. The mystery begins when archaeologists find a hastily dug mass grave of 4,000 men, women, and children in London. At first they assume it's a plague pit from the Black Death, but when they date the bones, they're a century too early. So what killed off these families? The chronicles of that time describe a run of wild weather that devastated crops and spread famine across Europe. NOVA's expert team looks for the signature of a volcanic eruption big enough to have blasted a huge cloud of ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, which chilled the entire planet. From Greenland to Antarctica, the team finds telltale "fingerprints" in ice and soil layers until, finally, they narrow down the culprit to a smoldering crater on a remote Indonesian island. Nearly 750 years ago, this volcano's colossal explosion shot a million tons of rock and ash into the atmosphere. Across the globe, it turned summer into winter. What would happen if another such cataclysm struck again today?
In recent years, our knowledge of life beneath the waves has been transformed. Using cutting-edge technology, One Ocean takes us on a journey from the intense heat of the tropics to our planet's frozen poles to reveal new worlds and extraordinary never-before-seen animal behaviours.
In 1991, a small Medieval prayer book was sold at auction. Miraculously, some original writings of Archimedes, the brilliant Greek mathematician, were discovered hidden beneath the religious text. Through scholarly detective work with the help of modern technology, this book now reveals Archimedes' stunningly original concepts, ideas, and theories--revelations that, if known sooner, might have reshaped our world.
Making of David Attenborough’s Galapagos, which is aired first, offers an unrivalled and actually far more interesting view of the dramas that went into capturing all that footage. The way all the shots have been so calmly edited together makes the process look so effortless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are broken helicopters and broken camera cables that threaten the whole enterprise and the grunting of mating tortoises that threaten to drown out Attenborough’s pieces to camera. This making of programme also includes the discovery of a previously unknown species of pink iguana, as well as the final television appearance of the last-remaining member of another species – the iconic long-necked tortoise known as Lonesome George. “He’s about 80 years old and he’s getting a bit creaky in his joints,” whispers Attenborough. “As indeed am I.”
Once life arrived in the Galapagos, it exploded into unique and spectacular forms. David Attenborough investigates the driving forces behind such evolutionary innovations. We learn that life must be able to adapt quickly in these ever-changing volcanic landscapes. It has resulted in species found nowhere else in the world, such as giant whale sharks and marine iguanas that can spit sea-salt from their noses, dandelion seeds that grow into tree-sized plants and spiders that can blend perfectly into the darkness. Adaptation has been the key to survival in these islands so far, but the story of life in the Galapagos doesn’t end here. The catalyst that triggers these explosions of life remains in place.
The penultimate instalment investigates the primates, whose defining characteristics are forward-facing eyes for judging distance, and gripping hands with which to grasp branches, manipulate food and groom one another. The programme begins in Madagascar, home to the lemurs, of which there are some 20 different types. Two examples are the sifaka, which is a specialised jumper, and the indri, which has a well-developed voice. Away from Madagascar, the only lemur relatives to have survived are nocturnal, such as the bushbaby, the potto and the loris. The others were supplanted by the monkeys and a primitive species that still exists is the smallest, the marmoset. However, Attenborough selects the squirrel monkey as being typical of the group. Howler monkeys demonstrate why they are so named their chorus is said to the loudest of any mammal and their prehensile tails illustrate their agility.
This programme surveys mammal herbivores and their predators. The herbivores began to populate the forests when the dinosaurs disappeared, and many took to gathering food at night. To prepare for winter, some store it in vast quantities, some hibernate and others make do as best they can. However, the carnivores joined them, and when a drying climate triggered the spread of grass, they followed their prey out on to the plains. Grass is not easily digestible and most animals that eat it have to regurgitate it and chew the cud. Out in the open, the leaf-eaters had to develop means of protection.
This episode continues the study of mammals, and particularly those whose young gestate inside their bodies. Attenborough asks why these have become so varied and tries to discover the common theme that links them. Examples of primitive mammals that are still alive today include the treeshrew, the desman and the star-nosed mole. Insect eaters vary enormously from the aardvark, giant anteater and pangolin to those to which much of this programme is devoted: the bats, of which there are nearly 1,000 different species. These took to flying at night, and its possible that they evolved from treeshrews that jumped from tree to tree, in much the same way as a flying squirrel.
This instalment is the first of several to concentrate on mammals. The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs (in much the same manner of reptiles), and it is from such animals that others in the group evolved. Since mammals have warm blood and most have dense fur, they can hunt at night when temperatures drop. It is for this reason that they became more successful than their reptile ancestors, who needed to heat themselves externally. Much of the programme is devoted to marsupials (whose young are partially formed at birth) of which fossils have been found in the Americas dating back 60 million years.
This programme focuses on birds. The feather is key to everything that is crucial about a bird: it is both its aerofoil and its insulator. The earliest feathers were found on a fossilised Archaeopteryx skeleton in Bavaria. However, it had claws on its wings and there is only one species alive today that does so: the hoatzin, whose chicks possess them for about a week or so. Nevertheless, it serves to illustrate the probable movement of its ancestor. It may have taken to the trees to avoid predators, and over time, its bony, reptilian tail was replaced by feathers and its heavy jaw evolved into a keratin beak.
This episode is devoted to the evolution of reptiles. They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, since they can survive in the hottest climates. The reason is their scaly, practically watertight skin. The scales protect the body from wear and tear and in the case of some species of lizard, such as the Australian thorny devil, serve to protect from attack. The horned iguana from the West Indies is also one of the most heavily armoured. The skin is rich in pigment cells, which provide effective means of camouflage, and the chameleon is a well-known example. Temperature control is important to reptiles: they cant generate body heat internally or sweat to keep cool.
The next instalment describes the move from water to land. The fish that did so may have been forced to because of drought, or chose to in search of food. Either way, they eventually evolved into amphibians. Such creatures needed two things: limbs for mobility and lungs to breathe. The coelacanth is shown as a fish with bony fins that could have developed into legs, and the lungfish is able to absorb gaseous oxygen. However, evidence of an animal that possessed both is presented in the 450 million-year-old fossilised remains of a fish called a eusthenopteron. Three groups of amphibians are explored.
This programme looks at the evolution of fish. They have developed a multitude of shapes, sizes and methods of propulsion and navigation. The sea squirt, the lancelet and the lamprey are given as examples of the earliest, simplest types. Then, about 400 million years ago, the first back-boned fish appeared. The Kimberley Ranges of Western Australia are, in fact, the remnants of a coral reef and the ancient seabed. There, Attenborough discovers fossils of the earliest fish to have developed jaws. These evolved into two shapes of creature with cartilaginous skeletons: wide ones (like rays and skates) and long ones (like sharks).
This episode details the relationship between flowers and insects. There are some one million classified species of insect, and two or three times as many that are yet to be labelled. Around 300 million years ago, plants began to enlist insects to help with their reproduction, and they did so with flowers. Although the magnolia, for instance, contains male and female cells, pollination from another plant is preferable as it ensures greater variation and thus evolution. Flowers advertise themselves by either scent or display. Some evolved to produce sweet-smelling nectar and in turn, several insects developed their mouth parts into feeding tubes in order to reach it.
This instalment examines the earliest land vegetation and insects. The first plants, being devoid of stems, mainly comprised mosses and liverworts. Using both sexual and asexual methods of reproduction, they proliferated. Descended from segmented sea creatures, millipedes were among the first to take advantage of such a habitat and were quickly followed by other species. Without water to carry eggs, bodily contact between the sexes was now necessary. This was problematical for some hunters, such as spiders and scorpions, who developed courtship rituals to ensure that the female didn't eat the male.
The next programme explores the various sea-living invertebrates. In Morocco, the limestones are 600 million years old, and contain many invertebrate fossils. They fall broadly into three categories: shells, crinoids and segmented shells. The evolution of shelled creatures is demonstrated with the flatworm, which eventually changed its body shape when burrowing became a necessity for either food or safety. It then evolved shielded tentacles and the casings eventually enveloped the entire body: these creatures are the brachiopods. The most successful shelled animals are the molluscs, of which there are some 80,000 different species.
The episode begins in the South American rainforest whose rich variety of life forms is used to illustrate the sheer number of different species. Since many are dependent on others for food or means of reproduction, David Attenborough argues that they couldn't all have appeared at once. He sets out to discover which came first, and the reasons for such diversity. He starts by explaining the theories of Charles Darwin and the process of natural selection, using the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands (where Darwin voyaged on HMS Beagle) as an example. Fossils provide evidence of the earliest life, and Attenborough travels a vertical mile into the Grand Canyon in search of them.
The Earth, the sun, the stars, and everything we can see, only comprise five percent of the universe. But what about the other 95 percent? Scientists are puzzling over dark matter and dark energy, the mysterious components that make up the rest.
Right now, billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience -- and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it. How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we're all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it "reality." Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.
For most of the Earth's history, life consisted of the simplest organisms; but then something happened that would give rise to staggering diversity, and, ultimately, life as complex as that which we see today. Scientists are still struggling to figure out just what that was.
A behind-the-scenes special offering an insider's look at Sir David Attenborough's innovative series exploring the macroscopic world of bugs. David reveals how the film-makers got up close with the insect and arachnid world for the innovative documentary series
Watching the fascinating display of leafcutter ants at the Natural History Museum in London is one of my favourite ways to while away a few hours, but David Attenborough is operating on a much grander scale here in the last in the series. In Argentina he observes some cousins of the leafcutters who are part of a community so vast it spans an entire continent. It’s one of the mandible-dropping facts in a look at one of the key inventions of arthropods: colonies. From termites and honey bees to the leafcutters, it seems that if you want to get ahead, you move to the big city.
While most of the series has focused on conflict, this episode is all about co-operation. The suitably named social spiders spin one enormous, 30m web for the whole colony, a queen bee rules her hive with a strict hierarchy and some green ants show great team spirit to help build a nest together. There are no broken societies here. David Attenborough shifts the focus to bugs that prefer cooperation rather than conflict. They include burrowing cockroaches, the suitably named social spiders - which share a 30-metre web.
A close-up view of sex, bug-style, as David Attenborough talks viewers through the different ways in which creepy-crawlies reproduce. Size matters for the minuscule male orb spider, creepily sneaking up on its intended and trying to mate without her noticing, while there's no rest for the lothario-like butterfly, which has plenty of notches on its proverbial bedpost. However, the harvestman spider has no use for sex at all, and reproduces by cloning itself.
It’s sexy time with the arthropods! This week David Attenborough takes a look at the courtship rituals of the creatures beneath our feet. But lovebugs won’t want to take tips from these bugs. The male Chilean rose tarantula, for instance, weaves a silk mat; deposits sperm on it, then sucks that sperm into a finger-like appendage near his mouth before he looks for a mate. Then there’s the gruesome, but surprisingly effective, coupling of praying mantis. The cinematography is as amazing as ever, catching the mating battles of tramp ants and providing luminescent footage of the courtship dance of Tanzanian red claw scorpions.
The broadcaster continues his bug-eyed view of the world of creepy-crawlies, revealing how predators defuse the defences of their prey. Highlights include the cockroach wasp, busy preparing a tasty - and very live - treat for its young, the whirligig beetle, which employs a water-based radar system, and the jumping Portia spider, which feeds on other arachnids.
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.
The centuries-old tradition of folding two-dimensional paper into three-dimensional shapes is inspiring a scientific revolution. The rules of folding are at the heart of many natural phenomena, from how leaves blossom to how beetles fly. But now, engineers and designers are applying its principles to reshape the world around us—and even within us, designing new drugs, micro-robots, and future space missions. With this burgeoning field of origami-inspired-design, the question is: can the mathematics of origami be boiled down to one elegant algorithm—a fail-proof guidebook to make any object out of a flat surface, just by folding? And if so, what would that mean for the future of design? Explore the high-tech future of this age-old art as NOVA unfolds “The Origami Revolution.”
We live in an age when technological innovation seems to be limitlessly soaring. But for all the satisfying speed with which our gadgets have improved, many of them share a frustrating weakness: the batteries. Though they have improved in last century, batteries remain finicky, bulky, expensive, toxic, and maddeningly short-lived. The quest is on for a “super battery,” and the stakes in this hunt are much higher than the phone in your pocket. With climate change looming, electric cars and renewable energy sources like wind and solar power could hold keys to a greener future...if we can engineer the perfect battery. Join host David Pogue as he explores the hidden world of energy storage, from the power—and danger—of the lithium-ion batteries we use today, to the bold innovations that could one day charge our world.
How will we power the planet without wrecking the climate? Five years after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the unprecedented trio of meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, scientists and engineers are struggling to control an ongoing crisis. What’s next for Fukushima? What’s next for Japan? And what’s next for a world that seems determined to jettison one of our most important carbon-free sources of energy? Despite the catastrophe—and the ongoing risks associated with nuclear—a new generation of nuclear power seems poised to emerge the ashes of Fukushima. NOVA investigates how the realities of climate change, the inherent limitations of renewable energy sources, and the optimism and enthusiasm of a new generation of nuclear engineers is looking for ways to reinvent nuclear technology, all while the most recent disaster is still being managed. What are the lessons learned from Fukushima? And with all of nuclear’s inherent dangers, how might it be possible to build a safe nuclear future?
Cities are growing at a faster rate than any other habitat on Earth. They may seem an unlikely place for animals to thrive, but they can be a world of surprising opportunity. Leopards prowl the streets of Mumbai, peregrine falcons hunt amongst New York's skyscrapers, and a million starlings perform spectacular aerial dances over Rome. In Jodhpur, langurs are revered as religious deities and in Harar, locals live in harmony with wild hyenas. Many animals, however, struggle to cope in the urban jungle. As the architects of this environment, can humans choose to build cities that are homes for both them and wildlife?
Grasslands cover one quarter of all land and support the vast gatherings of wildlife, but to survive here animals must endure the most hostile seasonal changes on the planet. From Asia's bizarre-looking Saiga antelope to the giant anteaters of Brazil, grassland animals have adapted in extraordinary ways to cope with these extremes. In the flooded Okavango, lions take on formidable buffalo in epic battles, on the savannah bee-eaters take advantage of elephants to help catch insects and, on the freezing northern tundra, caribou embark on great migrations shadowed by hungry Arctic wolves.
In the second of this three-part series, Jacques reveals how fear remains one of the most powerful drivers of our spending. Visiting a neuroscience lab, Jacques hears from a consumer psychologist about how our brains are much more responsive to negative than to positive stimuli. He also meets some experts who have turned this knowledge into an art form, helping manufacturers make billions from our anxieties and insecurities. At the remote chateau of French anthropologist Clotaire Rapaille, Jacques learns how our sense of fear drives us in ways many of us do not understand - and how Rapaille's insights have helped companies sell us everything from SUVs to cigarettes. At the Beverley Hills pad of multimillionaire marketer Rohan Oza, he hears how Oza's connections to celebrities helped propel VitaminWater into the soft drink stratosphere, despite the fact that the product's health claims have been called into question. Jacques also confronts the men who say they are combating our most deep-seated fear - of age and decline. In Las Vegas, he mingles with the doctors and businessmen attending a global conference aimed at selling us ways to stay young and healthy, challenging them to justify their claims for the anti-aging business that has made them rich.
In the first of this three-part series investigating consumer spending, Jacques reveals how the concept of 'product lifespan' holds the key to our ever-churning consumerism. Exploring the historical origin of planned obsolescence, when some of the world biggest electrical manufacturers formed a light bulb cartel in the 1920s, Jacques reveals how products that are essential to our modern lifestyles are still made to break. During his investigation, Jacques uncovers the process by which a crucial transformation happened and attitudes towards spending were transformed. Instead of needing new goods because our old ones were broken, we learned to want them for reasons of fashion and aspiration - awaking a consumer appetite that could never be satisfied. In the US, he visits a recycling centre where brand-new high-tech goods are destroyed before they have even come out of the box. Jacques also meets some of the companies that encourage consumers to be dissatisfied with what they have and encourage purchases as part of an ever-faster cycle of 'upgrades'. He asks a senior IKEA executive why, despite the company's commitment to sustainability, it still encourages repeated discarding and purchasing. Jacques also talks to a former senior Apple employee who reveals how the company's new focus on fashion, with its colourful iPhones, keeps us buying even when technological innovation slows.
Jungles provide the richest habitats on the planet - mysterious worlds of high drama where extraordinary animals attempt to survive in the most competitive place on earth. Flooded forests are home to caiman-hunting jaguars and strange dolphins that swim amongst the tree tops, while in the dense underworld, ninja frogs fight off wasps and flying dragons soar between trees. Acrobatic indri leap through the forests of Madagascar, while the jungle night conceals strange fungi and glow-in-the-dark creatures never filmed before.
The great mountain ranges are some of the planet's most spectacular landscapes, but they are unforgiving places to live in, and only a few animals have what it takes to live at extreme altitude. Mountain animals are amongst the most elusive in the world, and this film provides unique and intimate glimpses into their secretive lives. Witness the moment four snow leopards come together when a mother and cub become trapped between two rival males. Join grizzly bears as they dance against trees to rub off their winter fur and soar with golden eagles hunting amongst Europe's snow-capped peaks.
Remote islands offer sanctuary for some of the planet's strangest and rarest creatures. The rare pygmy three-toed sloth enjoys a peaceful existence on an idyllic Caribbean island, while nesting albatross thrive in predator-free isolation. But island life always comes at a cost. On the Galapagos Islands, young marine iguana must escape an onslaught of deadly racer snakes the moment they hatch from the sand. On the sub-Antarctic island of Zavodovski, life gets more extreme still. Every day, one and a half million penguins risk being battered against the rocks by fierce waves as they try to get on and off the island.
Scientists have started looking to the heavens and wondering what the weather might be like on other planets. Today, we are witnessing the birth of extra-terrestrial meteorology. They began with our solar system, sending spacecraft to explore its furthest reaches, and now the latest telescopes are enabling astronomers to study planets further afield. Our exploration of the universe is revealing alien worlds with gigantic storm systems that encircle entire planets, supersonic winds and extreme temperatures. On some planets, temperatures are so hot that the clouds and rain are believed to be made of liquid lava droplets, and on other planets it is thought to rain precious stones. We thought we had extreme weather on Earth, but it turns out that it is nothing compared to what's out there.
Alice Roberts explores the latest discoveries in the study of human origins, revealing the transformation that has been brought about in this field by genetics. Traditional paleo-anthropology, based on fossils, is being transformed by advanced genome sequencing techniques. We now know that there were at least four other distinct species of human on the planet at the same time as us - some of them identified from astonishingly well-preserved DNA extracted from 50,000-year-old bones, others hinted at by archaic sections of DNA hidden in our modern genome. What's more, we now know that our ancestors met and interacted with these other humans, in ways that still have ramifications today. Alice uses these revelations to update our picture of the human family tree.
Our ancient human ancestors once lived only in Africa, in tiny bands of a few thousand hunter-gatherers. Then we moved out of our African cradle, spreading rapidly to every corner of the planet. How did we acquire the skills, technology and talent to thrive in every environment on earth? How did our prehistoric forebears cross the Sahara on foot, survive frigid ice ages, and sail to remote Pacific islands? “Great Human Odyssey” is a spectacular global journey following their footsteps out of Africa along a trail of fresh scientific clues. With unique glimpses of today’s Kalahari hunters, Siberian reindeer herders, and Polynesian navigators, we discover amazing skills that hint at how our ancestors survived and prospered long ago.
Dr Xand Van Tulleken is single and looking for love. Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry wants to use him as her guinea pig to test whether the algorithms that dating sites use to match people actually work. While Hannah builds a dating site, Xand meets the scientists investigating online dating - and learns what pictures to use and what to write in his profile. He tries out a 'bot' that has automated a swiping app and has an MRI scan to find out whether his brain is equipped for love. 50 members of the public take part in some mini experiments at a date night - and Xand goes on various dates to test whether the algorithm is better than him choosing randomly.
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.
The acerbically witty and severely facially disfigured broadcaster Adam Pearson presents a personal film about genetics. He and his twin brother Neil are genetically identical and both share the same genetic disease, Neurofibromatosis 1 (Nf1) - yet they are completely different. Adam's face is covered with growths, whereas Neil has none. Neil has short term memory loss, whereas Adam is razor sharp. How can the same genetic disease affect identical twins so differently? Adam is on the cusp of a successful film and television career, but the disease has left tumours on his face that are growing out of control and he could lose his sight. For years, everyone thought Adam's brother Neil had escaped symptoms, but today his life is governed by epilepsy and a mysterious memory loss that suddenly came on during his teens. Determined to save their future, Adam tries to find out why the disease affects the twins so differently.
We are in the midst of a global crisis of perspective. We have forgotten the undeniable truth that every living thing is connected. PLANETARY is a provocative and breathtaking wakeup call – a cross continental, cinematic journey, that explores our cosmic origins and our future as a species. It is a poetic and humbling reminder that now is the time to shift our perspective. PLANETARY asks us to rethink who we really are, to reconsider our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us – to remember that we are PLANETARY
2015 • People
With exclusive behind-the-scenes access, Horizon follows the highs and lows of an extraordinary story in particle physics. In June 2015, teams at CERN started running the large hadron collider at the highest energy ever. Rumours quickly emerged that they were on the brink of a huge discovery. A mysterious bump in some data suggested a first glimpse of a brand new particle that could change our understanding of how the universe works. A new particle could hint at extra dimensions and help us understand the very beginning of the universe - but first the team has to find it. Horizon follows the scientists as they hunt for the elusive signals that would prove if there is a new particle or if it is just noise from their machine.
In this final episode Professor Brian Cox travels to Iceland, where the delicate splendour of a moonbow reveals the colours that paint our world, and he visits a volcano to explain why the sun shines. By exploring how sunlight transforms the plains of the Serengeti, drives the annual migration of humpback whales to the Caribbean and paints the moon red during a lunar eclipse, Brian reveals the colour signature of our life-supporting planet. Finally, at an observatory high in the Swiss Alps, he shows how these colours aren't simply beautiful, but that understanding how they're created is allowing us to search for other Earths far out in the cosmos.
In this episode, Professor Brian Cox shows how Earth's basic ingredients, like the pure sulphur mined in the heart of a deadly volcano in Indonesia, have become the building blocks of life. Hidden deep in a cave in the Dominican Republic lies a magical world created by the same property of water that makes it essential to life. Clinging to a precipitous dam wall in Italy, baby mountain goats seek out Earth's chemical elements essential to their survival. In the middle of the night in a bay off Japan, Brian explains how the dazzling display of thousands of glowing squid shows how life has taken Earth's chemistry and turned it into the chemistry of life.
In this episode Brian uncovers how the stunning diversity of shapes in the natural world are shadows of the rules that govern the universe. In Spain he shows how an attempt by hundreds of people to build the highest human tower reveals the force that shapes our planet. In Nepal, honey hunters seek out giant beehives that cling to cliff walls. The perfect hexagonal honeycombs made by the bees to store their honey conceal a mathematical rule. Off the coast of Canada, Brian explains how some of the most irregular, dangerous shapes in nature - massive icebergs that surge down from Greenland and into shipping lanes of the Atlantic - emerge from a powerful yet infinitely small force of nature. Even the most delicate six-sided snowflake tells a story of the forces of nature that forged it.
10 Ways to be successful... that's bullshit :)
2016 • Lifehack
Engineer Jem Stansfield looks back through the Horizon archives to find out how scientists have come to understand and manipulate the materials that built the modern world. Whether it's uncovering new materials or finding fresh uses for those we've known about for centuries, each breakthrough offers a tantalising glimpse of the holy grail of materials science - a substance that's cheap to produce and has the potential to change our world. Jem explores how a series of extraordinary advances have done just that - from superconductors to the silicon revolution.
Series premiere of a docudrama that chronicles the rebel tribes that brought down the Roman Empire. In the opener, An epic 700-year battle for freedom begins as the barbarians rise against Rome; Hannibal builds a rebel alliance and conquers the Alps; the shepherd Viriathus unleashes a wave of resistance to save his people from destruction.
Liz Bonnin delves in to the world of invention, revealing the people and technologies set to transform all our lives. She examines the conditions that are promising to make the 21st century a golden age of innovation and meets some of the world's foremost visionaries, mavericks and dreamers. From the entrepreneurs that are driving a new space race, to the Nobel Prize wining scientist leading a nanotech revolution, this is a tour of the people and ideas delivering the world of tomorrow, today.
Our ability to see and record live events from right across the world has shrunk the globe, making virtual neighbours of us all. It is a defining characteristic of our modern world. The final episode in the series reveals the fascinating stories that made such everyday miracles possible. It tells the story of the handful of extraordinary inventions and their inventors who tackled the complexities of chemistry and electronics and discovered how to capture and reproduce still and moving images. Michael Mosley and academics Prof Mark Miodownik and Dr Cassie Newland tell the amazing story of three of the greatest and most transformative inventions of all time - photography, moving pictures and television.
Nothing has shrunk the globe more than our extraordinary ability to talk to one another across the oceans and continents. Episode three of The Genius of Invention reveals the fascinating chain of events that made such every-day miracles possible. It tells the story of the handful of extraordinary inventors and inventions who helped build the modern world by harnessing electricity and electromagnetism to enable us to send instant messages across vast distances. Michael Mosley and academics, Prof Mark Miodownik and Dr Cassie Newland tell the amazing story of three more of the greatest and most transformative inventions of all time; the electric telegraph, the telephone and wireless communication. Our experts explain how these inventions came about by sparks of inventive genius and steady incremental improvements. They separate myth from reality in the lives of the great inventors and celebrate some of the most remarkable stories in British history.
This episode reveals the fascinating chain of events that made quick and safe travel possible even across the greatest distances a possibility. From the Rolls Royce aero-engine factory in Derby, Michael Mosley, Prof Mark Miodownik and Dr Cassie Newland tell the amazing story of three more of the greatest and most transformative inventions of all time, the steam locomotive, the internal combustion engine and the jet engine. Our experts explain how these inventions came about by sparks of inventive genius and steady incremental improvements hammered out in workshops. They separate myth from reality in the lives of the great inventors and celebrate some of the most remarkable stories in British history.
To survive, animals need somewhere to live, a place that provides the necessities of life, shelter from the elements and a refuge from enemies. Good homes are rare and competition can be intense – finding a home is one thing, but defending it is quite another.
In the final challenge of the game of life, raising offspring is the ultimate prize. Continuing the line through the next generation, is the next best thing to immortality. But it’s far from easy... Some parents must risk their own lives for their offspring.
Over 62 per cent of adults in the UK are currently overweight or obese and this figure is set to rise. A common attitude is that obese people should be ashamed - it is their fault, they have no will power and if they could just 'eat less and exercise more', the problem would soon be solved. Yet, despite millions of pounds being spent on this simple message, the UK is getting fatter every year. Cambridge geneticist Dr Giles Yeo believes that for many obese people, simply eating less is a lot harder than you might think - and he is taking a road trip around the UK and America to uncover why. He meets the real people behind some of the more shocking newspaper headlines and, through their stories, reveals surprising truths which dispel commonly held myths about obesity. He gains access to scientists and doctors trialling cutting-edge techniques to tackle the crisis - from a 'miracle' hormone injection to a transfusion of faecal matter, and even learns a thing or two about his own size and relationship with food.
Michael Mosley investigates the dramatic rise in e-cigarettes. They're everywhere these days, but what does the latest scientific research on them reveal? Michael reveals what e-cigarettes are really doing to your health. Are they really better for you than cigarettes? What is actually in them? Is passive vapour harmful? And can they really stop you from smoking? Michael meets some of the scientists around the world studying them, asks a group of volunteers to try to give up smoking regular cigarettes using them, and even takes up 'vaping' himself, smoking an e-cigarette every day for a month to see the effects on his own health - no easy task for such a committed non-smoker.
Horizon investigates a new era of Alzheimer's research, which is bringing hope to millions of sufferers across the world. New scanning and gene technology is allowing scientists to identify the disease at its earliest stages, often 15 years before symptoms appear and the brain cells are destroyed. A series of new drugs trials in Colombia, the USA and Europe are showing startling success in reducing beta amyloid, the protein which is a hallmark of the disease. It is also becoming clear that changes in lifestyle can prevent the development of the disease. A new system inside the brain has been discovered which clears amyloid when we are in deep sleep, but allows it to accumulate if we don't sleep well. The programme reveals that for sufferers in the early stages of the disease, brain connections, or synapses, can be strengthened and even replaced by absorbing enough of the right nutrients. A UK-wide trail helps sufferers in the early stages to concentrate on improving everyday tasks, and in the process not only make their lives easier, but helps to reactivate the planning and organisational parts of the brain. In an ageing world, where the biggest risk of developing Alzheimer's is old age, the scientific breakthroughs in Alzheimer's disease are bringing hope where once there was despair.
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.
Neil Oliver reveals the truth behind the legend of the Vikings. (Part 3.) Neil explores how the Viking Age finally ended, tracing the Norse voyages of discovery, the first Danish kings, and the Christian conversions that opened the door to European high society. He also uncovers the truth about England's King Canute - he was not an arrogant leader who thought he could hold back the waves, but the Viking ruler of an entire empire of the north and an early adopter of European standardisation.
Neil Oliver reveals the truth behind the legend of the Vikings. (Part 2.) Neil Oliver heads out from the Scandinavian homelands to Russia, Turkey and Ireland to trace the beginnings of a vast trading empire that handled Chinese silks as adeptly as Pictish slaves. Neil discovers a world of 'starry-eyed maidens' and Buddhist statues that are a world away from our British experience of axe-wielding warriors, although it turns out that there were quite a few of those as well.
Neil Oliver reveals the truth behind the legend of the Vikings. (Part 1.) Neil begins by discovering the mysterious world of the Vikings' prehistoric ancestors. The remains of weapon-filled war boats, long-haired Bronze Age farmers, and the Swedish site of a royal palace and gruesome pagan ritual conjure up an ancient past from which the Viking Age was to suddenly erupt.
Professor Jim Al-Khalili discovers the intriguing story of how we discovered the rules that drive the universe. (Part 2: The Story of Information) Professor Jim Al-Khalili investigates one of the most important concepts in the world today - information. He discovers how we harnessed the power of symbols, everything from the first alphabet to the electric telegraph through to the modern digital age. But on this journey he learns that information isn't just about human communication, it's woven very profoundly into the fabric of reality.
Professor Jim Al-Khalili discovers the intriguing story of how we discovered the rules that drive the universe. (Part 1: The Story of Energy) Energy is vital to us all, but what exactly is energy? In attempting to answer this question Jim investigates a strange set of laws that link together everything from engines to humans to stars. It turns out that energy, so critical to daily existence, actually helps us make sense of the entire universe.
Alzheimer’s disease strikes at the core of what makes us human: our capacity to think, to love, and to remember. The disease ravages the minds of over 40 million victims worldwide, and it is one of the greatest medical mysteries of our time. Join investigators as they gather clues and attempt to reconstruct the molecular chain of events that ultimately leads to dementia, and follow key researchers in the field who have helped to develop the leading theories of the disease. Along the way, meet individuals from all walks of life who will reveal what it’s like to struggle with Alzheimer’s. Among them, members of a unique Colombian family who have learned that their genetic predisposition all but guarantees early onset Alzheimer’s. Yet there may be hope. Join these courageous patients participating in clinical trials, and then go behind the scenes of the major drug trials to see how researchers target and test therapies that may slow and even prevent Alzheimer’s.
This two-part scientific detective tale tells the story of a remarkable group of pioneers who wanted to reach the ultimate extreme: absolute zero, a place so cold that the physical world as we know it doesn't exist, electricity flows without resistance, fluids defy gravity and the speed of light can be reduced to 38 miles per hour. Each film features a strange cast of eccentric characters, including: Clarence Birds Eye; Frederic 'Ice King' Tudor, who founded an empire harvesting ice; and James Dewar, who almost drove himself crazy by trying to liquefy hydrogen. Absolute zero became the Holy Grail of temperature physicists and is considered the gateway to many new technologies, such as nano-construction, neurological networks and quantum computing. The possibilities, it seems, are limitless. Part 2: Race for Absolute Zero Focuses on the fierce rivalry that took place in the laboratories in Britain, Holland, France and Poland as they sought the ultimate extreme of cold. The program will follow the extraordinary discoveries of superconductivity and superfluidity and the attempt to produce a new form of matter that Albert Einstein predicted would exist within a few billionths of degrees above absolute zero.
his two-part scientific detective tale tells the story of a remarkable group of pioneers who wanted to reach the ultimate extreme: absolute zero, a place so cold that the physical world as we know it doesn't exist, electricity flows without resistance, fluids defy gravity and the speed of light can be reduced to 38 miles per hour. Each film features a strange cast of eccentric characters, including: Clarence Birds Eye; Frederic 'Ice King' Tudor, who founded an empire harvesting ice; and James Dewar, who almost drove himself crazy by trying to liquefy hydrogen. Absolute zero became the Holy Grail of temperature physicists and is considered the gateway to many new technologies, such as nano-construction, neurological networks and quantum computing. The possibilities, it seems, are limitless. Part 1: Conquest of Cold Chronicles the major discoveries leading towards the mastery of cold, beginning with King James I's court magician, Cornelius Drebbel, who managed to air condition the largest interior space in the British Isles in 1620. Other stories will include the first "natural philosopher," Robert Boyle, a founder of the Royal Society in Great Britain; the Grand Duke Ferdinand II de Medici's involvement in the creation of the first thermometer; the establishment of the laws of thermodynamics by three young scientists, Sadi Carnot, James Joule and William Thomson; and Michael Faraday's critical achievement in liquefying several other gases which set the stage for the commercial application of cold to refrigeration and air conditioning.
This is the story of how our solar system will be transformed by the aging sun before coming to a spectacular end in about eight billion years. Astronomers can peer into the far future to predict how it will happen by analysing distant galaxies, stars and even planets in their final moments. In this film, Horizon brings these predictions to life in a peaceful midwestern town that has a giant scale model of the solar system spread out all over the city. As it ages, the sun will bloat into a red giant star, swallowing planets... as well as half the town. The fate of the Earth itself hangs in the balance. How will the solar system end?
Horizon looks at dark energy - the mysterious force that is unexpectedly causing the universe's expansion to speed up. The effects of dark energy were discovered in 1998 but physicists still don't know what it is. Worse, its very existence calls into question Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity - the cornerstone of modern physics. The hunt for the identity of dark energy is on. Experiments on earth and in space generate data that might provide a clue, but there are also hopes that another Einstein might emerge - someone who can write a new theory explaining the mystery of the dark energy.
The story of an extraordinary scientific adventure - the attempt to control gravity. For centuries, the precise workings of gravity have confounded the greatest scientific minds, and the idea of controlling gravity has been seen as little more than a fanciful dream. Yet in the mid 1990s, UK defence manufacturer BAE Systems began a groundbreaking project code-named Greenglow, which set about turning science fiction into reality. On the other side of the Atlantic, Nasa was simultaneously running its own Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project. It was concerned with potential space applications of new physics, including concepts like 'faster-than-light travel' and 'warp drives'. Horizon explores science's long-standing obsession with the idea of gravity control. It looks at recent breakthroughs in the search for loopholes in conventional physics and examines how the groundwork carried out by Project Greenglow has helped change our understanding of the universe.
The story of how one Russian internet millionaire is turning to cutting-edge science to try to unlock the secret of living forever. Dmitry Itskov recently brought together some of the world's leading neuroscientists, robot builders and consciousness researchers to try to devise a system that would allow him to escape his biological destiny. Entering Dmitry's seemingly sci-fi world, Horizon investigates the real science inspiring his bold plan to upload the human mind to a computer. There are doubters - like the major neuroscientist who tells us 'it's too stupid, it simply cannot be done'. But as we also meet the Japanese maker of Erica, one of the world's most human-like robots, who tells us the destiny of humans is to become robots to overcome the constraints of time, see how a quadriplegic Californian man is already controlling a robot arm with his thoughts, and explore the groundbreaking work of the scientist behind the world's largest neuroscience project - the $6 billion US Brain Initiative - who tells us the effort to map all the activity of the brain could be a crucial step towards mind uploading, Horizon asks is it really so crazy to think Dmitry Itskov could succeed in his goal of bringing about immortality for all of us within 30 years?
With the rapid emergence of digital devices, an unstoppable, invisible force is changing human lives in ways from the microscopic to the gargantuan: Big Data, a word that was barely used a few years ago but now governs the day for almost all of us. This award-winning film explores how the real time visualization of data streaming in from satellites, billions of sensors and GPS enabled cameras and smart phones is beginning to enable us, as individuals and collectively as a society, to sense, measure and understand aspects of our existence in ways never possible before. Together these devices are helping create a new kind of planetary nervous system. This massive gathering and analyzing of data in real time is also allowing us to address to some of humanity biggest challenges, including pollution, world hunger, and illness. But as Edward Snowden and the release of the NSA documents have shown, the accessibility of all this data comes at a steep price.
On a summer’s night, there’s nothing more magic than watching the soft glow of fireflies switching on and off. Few other life forms on land can light up the night, but in the dark depths of the oceans, it’s a different story: nearly 90% of all species shine from within. Whether it’s to scare off predators, fish for prey, or lure a mate, the language of light is everywhere in the ocean depths, and scientists are finally starting to decode it. NOVA and National Geographic take a dazzling dive to this hidden undersea world where most creatures flash, sparkle, shimmer, or simply glow. Join deep sea scientists who investigate these stunning displays and discover surprising ways to harness nature’s light—from tracking cancer cells to detecting pollution, lighting up cities, and even illuminating the inner workings of our brains.
Memory is the glue that binds our mental lives. Without it, we’d be prisoners of the present, unable to use the lessons of the past to change our future. From our first kiss to where we put our keys, memory represents who we are and how we learn and navigate the world. But how does it work? Neuroscientists using cutting-edge techniques are exploring the precise molecular mechanisms of memory. By studying a range of individuals ranging—from an 11-year-old whiz-kid who remembers every detail of his life to a woman who had memories implanted—scientists have uncovered a provocative idea. For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays intact. But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories. The question is—are we ready?
Four and a half billion years ago, the young Earth was a hellish place—a seething chaos of meteorite impacts, volcanoes belching noxious gases, and lightning flashing through a thin, torrid atmosphere. Then, in a process that has puzzled scientists for decades, life emerged. But how? NOVA joins mineralogist Robert Hazen as he journeys around the globe. From an ancient Moroccan market to the Australian Outback, he advances a startling and counterintuitive idea—that the rocks beneath our feet were not only essential to jump-starting life, but that microbial life helped give birth to hundreds of minerals we know and depend on today. It's a theory of the co-evolution of Earth and life that is reshaping the grand-narrative of our planet’s story.
Nowadays, many atheists declare not just that god is dead but that anyone who believes in him must be stupid. This seems a little harsh – we prefer to think about where religious beliefs come from: the pained parts of ourselves.
California is on the brink of an apocalypse. The state faces a future of drought that will cost billions in lost farm revenue and thousands of jobs. But the challenges facing the state are not unique: All over the world, governments are struggling with bigger populations and a diminishing supply of freshwater. Innovators across the globe are seeking solutions in emergent technologies to prevent a planet-wide water crisis.
We are surrounded by clean, raw energy waiting to be tapped - energy that could eventually replace fossil fuels. Finding new ways to harness the energy around us takes a rare breed of scientist-engineers: men and women with a combination of technical skill, imagination, and unwavering focus. If we act now, developments in energy production could avert disaster and usher in a new era of clean, safe energy.
In recent years, close study of the aging process has opened up new ways that could help us all live healthier for longer. Can we move beyond treating individual diseases, and instead treat the aging process itself? But would a longer life necessarily be a better life? A loose-knit group of researchers believe the real breakthrough is extending our health span - the period of life spent free of disease.
After millennia of speculation about what goes on inside the human brain, we now have the tools to explore its hidden reaches. These tools are leading to research that may help those suffering from afflictions such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. They are also shedding light on the mystery of consciousness and what makes us who we are.
Scientific advancements are challenging the concept of what it means to be human. Technology embedded in our bodies is fairly common: artificial limbs, pacemakers. But new research is taking us beyond replacement parts and into a new realm that is changing the nature of the human body and the human mind. Will the fusion of biology and technology change how we think, how we feel, how we experience the world?
The Ebola outbreak of 2014 almost brought the world to its knees, but this crisis has mobilized scientists and researchers, paving the way for new treatments and vaccines. From antibiotics and vaccines to computer programs that predict how viruses will spread, new lifesaving tools will be used to fight a wide range of viruses in the near future, including HIV, influenza, dengue fever, malaria, and a host of other killer diseases.
On the 15th Dec 2015, Tim Peake will launch into space to be Britain's first astronaut on board the International Space Station. For the past two years, Tim has been filming a video diary for Horizon showing the risks, pressures and rigorous training required to launch into space. Horizon also talks exclusively to his wife and two children as they prepare to wave him goodbye on his voyage to space. From training in the Soyuz capsule, centrifuges, space station mockups, virtual reality and a huge pool to replicate spacewalks, to dealing with the physical dangers of weightlessness, witnessing his first launch and spending time away from his wife Rebecca and his two sons, this is an intimate portrait and remarkable insight into the world of an astronaut.
On November 25th, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: general relativity. The theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back to the origin of time itself. Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Discover the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory—and Einstein’s brilliance—as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory.”
Helen Czerski ventures beyond the visible spectrum in the final (and best) episode in this vibrant little series, showing how electromagnetic radiation is so much broader than the narrow slice of reality we see with our eyes. Before delving into the details of UV, infrared and x-rays, Dr Czerski explores colour subjectivity by trying on a dress that recently divided the internet — to some it appeared blue and black, to others white and gold. It's a perfect fit. It's also a neat analogy of how people can have opposing views but both swear blind that their perspective is correct. The series ends with some amazing imaging techniques that show our bodies in a whole new light.
Early Earth was a canvas for the vast new palette of the colours of life, with the diversity of human skin tones telling the story of how humanity spread and ultimately conquered the planet. Dr Helen Czerski explores the true masters of colour - which are often the smallest and most elusive - travelling to the mountains of Tennessee to witness the colourful mating display of fireflies, and revealing the marine creatures that can change the colour of their skin in order to hide from the world.
In the first episode, Helen seeks out the colours that turned planet Earth multicoloured. To investigate the essence of sunlight Helen travels to California to visit the largest solar telescope in the world. She discovers how the most vivid blue is formed from sulfur atoms deep within the Earth's crust and why the presence of red ochre is a key sign of life. In gold, she discovers why this most precious of metals shouldn't even exist on the surface of the planet and in white, Helen travels to one of the hottest places on Earth to explore the role salt and water played in shaping planet Earth.
The global cyberwar is heating up and the stakes are no longer limited to the virtual world of computers. Now, thanks in part to secret documents released by Edward Snowden, the true scale of the National Security Agency's scope and power is coming to light.
The series offers a fresh look at the science behind teeth and dentistry, and what we can all do to improve our oral health. The programmes feature patients undergoing treatment for missing or broken teeth, decay, gum disease, and a range of other problems – sometimes to the extreme. The series also features a strong public health message, with experiments on and information about everything from correct tooth brushing to the effectiveness (or otherwise) of over-the-counter tooth whitening kits.
The series offers a fresh look at the science behind teeth and dentistry, and what we can all do to improve our oral health. The programmes feature patients undergoing treatment for missing or broken teeth, decay, gum disease, and a range of other problems – sometimes to the extreme. The series also features a strong public health message, with experiments on and information about everything from correct tooth brushing to the effectiveness (or otherwise) of over-the-counter tooth whitening kits.
Could you have come up with Einstein's theory of relativity? If not - why not? This is what Marcus du Sautoy, professor of mathematics, wants to explore. Marcus readily admits that he is no genius, but wants to know if geniuses are just an extreme version of himself - or whether their brains are fundamentally different.
Beginning with the first eight weeks when a single cell, no bigger than a speck of dust, transforms into a human foetus, the most sophisticated organism on the planet. This period is the most perilous time in the womb and determines the layout of body organs, when our heart makes its first beat, and when the length of our lives could be decided.
1/3 • Countdown to Life: The Extraordinary Making of You • 2015 • Health
Without us noticing, modern life has been taken over. Algorithms run everything from search engines on the internet to satnavs and credit card data security - they even help us travel the world, find love and save lives. Professor Marcus du Sautoy demystifies the hidden world of algorithms. By showing us some of the algorithms most essential to our lives, he reveals where these 2,000-year-old problem solvers came from, how they work, what they have achieved and how they are now so advanced they can even programme themselves.
2015 • Math
The video game industry is a global phenomenon. There are over 1.2 billion gamers across the planet, with sales projected soon to pass $100 billion per year. But their very popularity fuels the controversy that surrounds them. They frequently stand accused of corrupting the young - of causing violence and addiction. But is this true? Horizon reveals a scientific community deeply divided. Some are convinced that video games incite aggression. Others insist they have no effect whatsoever on real-world violence. But away from the controversy, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests video games may help keep the brain sharp, and could soon revolutionise how we combat mental decline as we age.
In this final episode we complete our journey, travelling back from the March equinox to the end of June. Kate Humble is in the Arctic at a place where spring arrives with a bang, whilst Helen Czerski chases a tornado to show how the earth's angle of tilt creates the most extreme weather on earth.
In this second episode we travel from January to the March equinox. Kate Humble gets closer to the Sun than she has ever been before, whilst Helen Czerski visits a place that gets some of the biggest and fastest snowstorms on Earth.
In this first episode they travel from July to the December solstice, experiencing spectacular weather and the largest tides on Earth. To show how the Earth's orbit affects our lives, Helen jumps out of an aeroplane and Kate briefly becomes the fastest driver on Earth.
Forget the big bang. The real moment of creation was the Cosmic Dawn - the moment of first light. This is the scientific version of the story of Genesis. The big bang gets all the credit for creating our universe. But in fact, the universe it gave was dark and boring. There were no stars, no galaxies, just a vast, black fog of gas - the cosmic dark ages. But, after a hundred million years of nothing, came a dramatic moment of transformation - the Cosmic Dawn. It's the moment the first stars were born, the moment that lit up the Universe, and made the first structure and the first ingredients of life. This was the real moment of creation. Astronomers are now trying to witness the cosmic dawn. For the first time they have the tools to explore the very first stars of the universe and to tell the scientific story of our creation.
Imagine a world where dinosaurs still walk the earth. A world where the Germans won World War II and you are president of the United States. Imagine a world where the laws of physics no longer apply and where infinite copies of you are playing out every storyline of your life. It sounds like a plot stolen straight from Hollywood, but far from it. This is the multiverse. Until very recently the whole idea of the multiverse was dismissed as a fantasy, but now this strangest of ideas is at the cutting edge of science. And for a growing number of scientists, the multiverse is the only way we will ever truly make sense of the world we are in. Horizon asks the question: Do multiple universes exist? And if so, which one are we actually in?
Most of us think that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is just over fussy tidying. But it's actually much more serious. Sophie has to check that she hasn't killed people, looking for dead bodies wherever she goes, Richard is terrified of touching the bin, and Nanda is about to have pioneering brain surgery to stop her worrying about components on her body - that her eyebrow might not be aligned or that she has bad breath. Professor Uta Frith meets the people living with OCD, looks at the therapy available and asks what neuroscience can offer by way of a cure.
Michael Mosley puts himself through a battery of health tests available to people who feel perfectly well. From an expensive heart scan to a new national screening procedure to detect the earliest signs of bowel cancer, Mosley sets out to discover which if any of the tests are worth doing.
On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft, one of the most advanced ever built, is scheduled to fly by Pluto to take the very first detailed images of the dwarf planet. After nine years and 3 billion miles, we will finally get a close look at this strange, icy world, but only if the craft can survive the final, treacherous leg of its journey, which could take it through a dangerous field of debris.
In 2014, the International Space Station had to move three times to avoid lethal chunks of space debris and there is an increasing problem of satellites mysteriously breaking down. With first-hand accounts from astronauts and experts, Horizon reveals the scale of the problem of space junk. Our planet is surrounded by hundreds of millions of pieces of junk moving at 17,000 miles per hour. Now the US government is investing a billion dollars to track them, and companies around the world are developing ways to clear up their mess - from robot arms to nets and harpoons. Horizon investigates the science behind the hit film Gravity and discovers the reality is far more worrying than the Hollywood fiction.
Ever since humans stood on two feet we have had the basic urge to go faster. But are there physical limits to how fast we can go? David Pogue wants to find out, and in "Making Stuff: Faster," he’ll investigate everything from electric muscle cars and the America’s cup sailboat to bicycles that smash speed records.
On May 16, 2011, Professor of Physics Emeritus Walter Lewin returned to MIT lecture hall 26-100 for a physics talk and book signing, complete with some of his most famous physics demonstrations to celebrate the publication of his new book For The Love Of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics, written with Warren Goldstein.
2014 • Physics
On July 4, 2012, scientists at the giant atom smashing facility at CERN announced the discovery of a subatomic particle that seems like a tantalizingly close match to the elusive Higgs Boson, thought to be responsible for giving all the stuff in the universe its mass. Since it was first proposed nearly fifty years ago, the Higgs has been the holy grail of particle physicists: in finding it they validate the “standard model” that underlies all of modern physics and open the door to new discoveries when CERN’s giant collider switches on at higher power in 2015.
In this episode of NOVA scienceNOW, journey back in time to the birth of our solar system to examine whether the key to our planet's existence might have been the explosive shockwave of an ancient supernova. Meet a chemist who has yielded a new kind of "recipe" for natural processes to assemble and create the building blocks of life. And see how the head louse, a creepy critter that's been sucking our blood for millions of years, is offering clues about our evolution. Finally, meet neuroscientist André Fenton, who is looking into erasing painful memories with an injection.
Join NOVA on a mathematical mystery tour—a provocative exploration of math's astonishing power across the centuries. We discover math's signature in the swirl of a nautilus shell, the whirlpool of a galaxy, and the spiral in the center of a sunflower. Math was essential to everything from the first wireless radio transmissions to the prediction and discovery of the Higgs boson and the successful landing of rovers on Mars. Astrophysicist and writer Mario Livio, along with a colorful cast of mathematicians, physicists, and engineers, follow math from Pythagoras to Einstein and beyond. It all leads to the ultimate riddle: Is math a human invention or the discovery of the language of the universe?
How bad can our drinking pattern be for our health? Doctors and genetically identical twins Chris and Xand van Tulleken want to find out. With the current drinking guidelines under review, the twins embark on self-experimentation to see the effects of different drinking patterns on their health. With Chris drinking 21 units spread evenly across the week and Xand having his 21 in single weekly binges, how will their bodies differ after a month? Catching up with the latest research into alcohol drinking patterns, we ask if moderate drinking is genuinely good for us - and whether binge drinking is really that bad.
Artificial selection is one example, eyes another, of the well-documented and inescapable process of evolution--change in a population of species over time--by natural selection. These are some of the things that molecules do.
Scientists genuinely don't know what most of our universe is made of. The atoms we're made from only make up four per cent. The rest is dark matter and dark energy (for 'dark', read 'don't know'). The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has been upgraded. When it's switched on in March 2015, its collisions will have twice the energy they did before. The hope is that scientists will discover the identity of dark matter in the debris. The stakes are high - because if dark matter fails to show itself, it might mean that physics itself needs a rethink.
Horizon travels to the South Pole to tell the inside story of the greatest scientific quest of our time. In March 2014, a team of astronomers stunned the scientific world when they announced that their BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole had possibly detected a signal of “gravitational waves” from the early universe. This is the inside story of the hunt for gravitational waves from the beginning of time.
New planets are now being discovered outside our solar system on a regular basis, and these strange new worlds are forcing scientists to rewrite the history of our own solar system. Far from a simple story of stable orbits, the creation of our solar system is a tale of hellfire, chaos and planetary pinball. It's a miracle our Earth is here at all.
As the Pope ends his visit to Britain, historian Dr Thomas Dixon delves into the BBC's archive to explore the troubled relationship between religion and science. From the creationists of America to the physicists of the Large Hadron Collider, he traces the expansion of scientific knowledge and asks whether there is still room for God in the modern world.
David uses the latest 3D technology to explore a world beyond the confines of our human senses. He begins with the secret world of plant movement and uses sinister carnivorous plants to show just how active plants can be. Bladderwort utricularia is a pond-dweller that is among the fastest known, its traps snapping shut in less than a millisecond. As the seasons change, David demonstrates how plants operate on a different time scale to us; how they modify their lives according to the time of year. We discover insects' hidden links with plants, both as pests and ...
The last episode deals with the future of conservation. It begins by looking at previous efforts. The 'Save The Whales' campaign, which started in the 1960s, is seen to have had a limited effect, as whaling continues and fish stocks also decline.
In a powerful conclusion, Brian pieces together this story of creation that started with what Einstein called the 'happiest thought of his life' - the moment that he realised that gravity was far stranger than anyone had imagined. In an incredible experiment inside the largest vacuum chamber, Brian reveals how Einstein formulated a new theory of gravity, which ultimately took us back to the big bang. And how in doing so, we humans found our true place in space and time.