The enduring luster of gold, the conductivity of copper, the strength of steel—the special properties of metals have reshaped societies and defined eras; they have such an important role in human history that entire ages have been named after them. But what gives metals their astounding characteristics? From the perfect ring of a bronze bell to the awe-striking steel construction of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium, how have humans perfected metalworking? And how have metals enabled our modern hi-tech world? Explore the science of metals with chemists and engineers as they literally test the mettle of metals and investigate how these remarkable materials have ushered humanity from the Stone Age to the stars.
Professor Iain Stewart uncovers clues hidden within the New York skyline, the anatomy of American alligators and inside Bolivian silver mines, to reconstruct how North and South America were created. We call these two continents the New World, and in a geological sense they are indeed new worlds, torn from the heart of an ancient supercontinent - the Old World of Pangaea.
Drill down to discover the treasures beneath our feet that power our world. Fossil fuels–coal, oil, and natural gas–powered the industrial revolution and allowed us to build a way of life that many cherish today. Personal cars, planes, lights, hot showers–all of these are gifts from our fossil fuels… but they have a dirty dark side in that they are polluting the planet. What is it about these natural resources that have allowed them to fuel our civilization? What secrets are locked in their molecules? Where did that energy come from, and can we find alternative energy resources that come in a cleaner form? The hunt is on for new treasures that might allow us to power our modern way of life without damaging the environment. Join NOVA as we explore the resources that both power and pollute, from modern-day oil prospecting in California, to a mega-city utility company struggling to keep the lights on during hot summer days, to China where an engineer strives to solve one of the greatest obstacles to the success of solar power. Travel the globe to see how our energy treasures are changing—and if they can keep the lights on.
Six months after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the release of radiation there, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to discover whether nuclear power is safe. He begins in Japan, where he meets some of the tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated from the exclusion zone. He travels to an abandoned village just outside the zone to witness a nuclear clean-up operation.
Earth's surface is covered in weird and wonderful patterns. The Australian outback is covered in pale spots, the work of wombats; a clearing in the endless green canopy of the Congo rainforest has been created by an incredible elephant gathering; and the twists and turns of the Amazon make a home for rehabilitated manatees. This is our home, as we've never seen it before.