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Conquest and Collapse

   2016    History
The Bronze Age had the first large urban centers, powerful kingdoms and armies, writing, and trade routes across vast areas. What led to the collapse of the city-state entities and the end of the Bronze Age? Possibly a perfect storm of uncontrollable factors that are still being researched.
Series: Bronze Age

Numbers as God

   2018    Science
Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry explores the mystery of maths. It underpins so much of our modern world that it's hard to imagine life without its technological advances, but where exactly does maths come from? Is it invented like a language or is it something discovered and part of the fabric of the universe? It's a question that some of the most eminent mathematical minds have been wrestling with. To investigate this question, Hannah goes head first down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's law of gravity, she paraglides to understand where the theory of maths and its practice application collide, and she travels to infinity and beyond to discover that some infinities are bigger than others.
In this episode, Hannah goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks to find out why they were so fascinated by the connection between beautiful music and maths. The patterns our ancestors found in music are all around us, from the way a sunflower stores its seeds to the number of petals in a flower. Even the shapes of some of the smallest structures in nature, such as viruses, seem to follow the rules of maths. All strong evidence for maths being discovered. But there are those who claim maths is all in our heads and something we invented. To find out if this is true, Hannah has her brain scanned. It turns out there is a place in all our brains where we do maths, but that doesn't prove its invented.
Experiments with infants, who have never had a maths lesson in their lives, suggests we all come hardwired to do maths. Far from being a creation of the human mind, this is evidence for maths being something we discover. Then along comes the invention of zero to help make counting more convenient and the creation of imaginary numbers, and the balance is tilted in the direction of maths being something we invented. The question of whether maths is invented or discovered just got a whole lot more difficult to answer
Series: Magic Numbers

Masters of Trade

   2016    History
Trade, and in particular trade in luxury goods, drove the commerce economies of the Bronze Age. This is the time when the first super powers in history, Egypt and Mesopotamia, emerge and dominate the 'world' stage of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas and surrounding areas.
Series: Bronze Age

AlphaGo

   2017    Technology
With more board configurations than there are atoms in the observable universe, the ancient Chinese game of 'Go' has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and AI collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined the Google DeepMind Challenge Match. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history.
AlphaGo chronicles a journey from the halls of Cambridge, through the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of DeepMind in London, and, ultimately, to the seven-day tournament in Seoul. As the drama unfolds, more questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What can it teach us about human mind?

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

   2017    Art
Everything and Nothing
Everything and Nothing

   2011    Science
The Beauty of Maps
The Beauty of Maps

   2010    Art
Dangerous knowledge
Dangerous knowledge

   2007    Science
The Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht

   2007    History
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole

   2011    Science
Blue Planet II
Blue Planet II

   2017    Nature