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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.

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.

Home

   2018    Science
This is our home, the earth it's, it's the only place we've got. It is one strange rock because it's ours and we are here and we don't know if any other place in the universe, yet, that can support life. We're very lucky to have it as our home.
Astronauts including the legendary Peggy Whitson, who spent 665 days in space, speak about how their concepts of home have changed since their experience.
Series: One Strange Rock

Terraform

   2018    Science
We sure lucked out with Planet Earth. Blue skies, rolling hills, water everywhere. But our home didn't come like this out of the box. Earth was a real fixer-upper, and it took some seriously hard work to build this paradise. Nearly four billion years of renovation. Some tiny, some huge, to make this house a home. Creatures on Earth don't just live and die. They actually change the world around them.
The story of how for nearly 4 billion years, microbes, plants and animals have emerged and sculpted the planet's surface and atmosphere in the strangest of ways.
Series: One Strange Rock
Neanderthal
Neanderthal

      History
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens

   2014    Culture
The Hunt
The Hunt

   2015    Nature
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
Triumph of Life
Triumph of Life

   2006    Nature
Hidden Kingdoms
Hidden Kingdoms

   2014    Nature