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Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing

Humboldt Epic Explorer

   2020    History
In 1799, the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt embarked on a perilous journey of discovery across South America. It would take him to the deepest jungle near the Orinoco and to the heights of the Andes. His aim was twofold: to conduct the first scientific survey of South America and to discover how the natural world actually works — at a time when most scientists believed that the world was created less than 6,000 years ago. He later became a leading scientific figure and champion of the abolitionist movement in the US.
This extremely visual docudrama follows Humboldt’s extraordinary path. Travelling in Humboldt’s footsteps is historian Andrea Wulf, whose book on Humboldt became a worldwide bestseller. For good reason, since Humboldt’s ideas on the planet’s fragile web of life are as important today as they were 220 years ago.

Hunt for the Mars Aliens

   2020    Technology    HD
NASA's brand-new Mars rover is on the hunt for alien life, and with the help of cutting-edge engineering, scientists embark on a search for fossilized remains, which might prove the Red Planet was once home to a vast ocean and extraterrestrial life. Perseverance carries seven scientific instruments to study the Martian surface at Jezero crater. It carries several cameras and two microphones. The rover is accompanied by the helicopter Ingenuity, which will help Perseverance to scout for locations to study.
Series: Space Deepest Secrets

Hunting for Martian Life. The Perseverance Rover

   2020    Technology    HD
Meet Perseverance, NASA's latest rover, as it heads to Mars to answer one question: did life exist on the red planet? On the way, it will lay the foundation for human exploration of our closest neighbour.
Today, Mars is hostile to life. It's too cold for water to stay liquid on the surface, and the thin atmosphere lets through high levels of radiation, potentially sterilizing the upper part of the soil. But it wasn't always like this. Some 3.5 billion years ago or more, water was flowing on the surface. It carved channels still visible today and pooled in impact craters. A thicker carbon dioxide atmosphere would have blocked more of the harmful radiation. The Mars 2020/Perseverance rover is designed to better understand the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life. The mission will collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth in the future. It will also test new technology to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars, as the Ingenuity Helicopter.

Pluto: Back From the Dead

   2020    Science
The incredible story of how Pluto has been propelled from an unremarkable ball of ice on the edge of the solar system to a world of unimaginable complexity - where some form of alien life might exist.
New discoveries from the edge of the solar system are transforming what is known about Pluto, thanks to the New Horizons space probe that took the first-ever close up images of the planet. Pluto was once thought to be geologically dead, but the pictures revealed it to be an active world of stunning complexity, with mountains carved from ice, a nitrogen glacier that appeared to be moving and a recently active volcano, with data sent back lead some scientists to speculate that there may even be life on Pluto today.
Series: Space Deepest Secrets
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture
Prehistoric America
Prehistoric America

   2003    Nature
The Hunt
The Hunt

   2015    Nature
Dirty Money
Dirty Money

   2018    Culture
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

   2017    Art
Clash of the Gods
Clash of the Gods

   2009    History
Shine a Light
Shine a Light

   2008    Art
Black Hole Apocalypse
Black Hole Apocalypse

   2018    Science