Twelve billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our solar system and entering the void of deep space. It is the first human-made object ever to do so. Slowly dying within its heart is a plutonium generator that will beat for perhaps another decade before the lights on Voyager finally go out. But this little craft will travel on for millions of years, carrying a Golden Record bearing recordings and images of life on Earth. The story of Voyager is an epic of human achievement, personal drama and almost miraculous success. Launched 16 days apart in 1977, the twin Voyager space probes have defied all the odds, survived countless near misses and almost 40 years later continue to beam revolutionary information across unimaginable distances. With less computing power than a modern hearing aid, they have unlocked the stunning secrets of our solar system. This film tells the story of these magnificent machines, the men and women who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could ever have hoped.
2017 • Astronomy
In the autumn of 2007, Matthew Lee, a worried accounting executive at Lehman Brothers, began to notice serious financial irregularities in the company's practices. When he refused to approve tens of billions of dollars' worth of suspicious transactions, he was fired. Six months later, Lehman Brothers sank with 631 billion dollars of debt. Lee, who has since emerged as a crucial figure in Lehman's downfall, and other whistleblowers recount their personal stories of fraud and deception that went right to the top of the bank. Ultimately, they paid the price for trying to expose the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.
2019 • Economics
Thirty-five years of relentless propaganda and harsh brutal punishments left the Chinese people living in fear of their country's one-child policy. That rule, which was abandoned in 2015, has left the country with an ageing population and tens of millions more men than women. The documentary's directors, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, unmask the tightly held, hidden secrets of how the Chinese government enforced its one-child policy and explores its devastating effect. Wang, a new mother now living in the US, travels back to the rural village she was born in and speaks to midwives, village leaders and journalists, revealing chilling stories of forced abortions, sterilisation, abandoned babies and state-sponsored kidnappings. Her own family share the grim choices they were forced to make in order to avoid harsh punishments from the state. With new information on tens of thousands of abandoned and kidnapped children (nearly all of them infant girls), One Child Nation breaks open decades of silence on a vast, unprecedented social experiment that shaped - and destroyed - countless lives.
2019 • Economics
Earthquakes have always been a terrifying phenomenon, and they’ve become more deadly as our cities have grown — with collapsing buildings posing one of the largest risks. But why do buildings collapse in an earthquake? And how can it be prevented? Vicki V. May explains the physics of why it is not the sturdiest buildings, but the smartest, that will remain standing.
Geologist Prof Iain Stewart shows how the continent of Africa was formed from the wreckage of a long lost supercontinent. He discovers clues in its spectacular landmarks, mineral wealth and iconic wildlife, that help piece together the story of Africa's formation. But he also shows how this deep history has left its mark on the modern day Africa and the world.
As spring lights up the land, Alaska faces one of the greatest transformations on earth. Temperatures soar, and as the sun's rays hit the snow and ice, water, light and warmth return. Alaska's transition to spring may look magical, but for those animals emerging from a long winter's sleep, it's a time of intense competition, as everything is in a rush to cash in on Alaska's riches.
Liz Bonnin works with some of the world's leading marine biologists and campaigners to discover the true dangers of plastic in our oceans and what it means for the future of all life on our planet, including us. Trillions of pieces of plastic are choking the very lifeblood of our earth, and every marine animal, from the smallest plankton to the largest mammals, is being affected. Can we turn back this growing plastic tide before it is too late?
2018 • Environment
All over the world, scientists are discovering traces of ancient floods on a scale that dwarfs even the most severe flood disasters of recent times. What triggered these cataclysmic floods, and could they strike again? In the Channeled Scablands of Washington State, the level prairie gives way to bizarre, gargantuan rock formations: house-sized boulders seemingly dropped from the sky, a cliff carved by a waterfall twice the height of Niagara, and potholes large enough to swallow cars. Like forensic detectives at a crime scene, geologists study these strange features and reconstruct catastrophic Ice Age floods more powerful than all the world’s top ten rivers combined. NOVA follows their efforts to uncover the geologic fingerprints of other colossal megafloods in Iceland and, improbably, on the seabed of the English Channel. There, another deluge smashed through a land bridge connecting Britain and France hundreds of thousands of years ago and turned Britain into an island for the first time. These great disasters ripped through terrain and transformed continents in a matter of hours—and similar forces reawakened by climate change are posing an active threat to mountain communities throughout the world today.
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.