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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

The Golden Age

   2016    History
This episode tells the tale of what's broadly considered China's most creative dynasty - the Song (960-1279). Michael Wood heads to the city of Kaifeng, the greatest city in the world before the 19th century. Here in Twin Dragon Alley, locals tell him the legend of the baby boys who became emperors.
He explores the ideas and inventions that made the Song one of greatest eras in world culture, helped by China's most famous work of art, the Kaifeng scroll, which shows the life of the city in around 1120. A chef makes Michael a recipe from a Song cookbook, while a guide to 'how to live happy, healthy lives for old people', published in 1085 and still in print, is discussed with local women doing their morning exercises. The Song was also a great era for scientific advance in China. Michael steers a huge working replica of an astronomical clock, made by China's Leonardo da Vinci.
Then at a crunch Chinese Premier League match, Michael tells us the Chinese invented football! The golden age of the northern Song ended in 1127, when invaders sacked Kaifeng, but they survived in the south. At their new capital, Hangzhou, Wood joins locals dancing by the West Lake, while in the countryside he meets Mr Xie with his records of 40 generations of ancestors. The final defeat of the Song took place in a naval battle in the estuary of the Pearl River in 1279. When all was lost, rather than surrender to the Mongols, a loyal minister jumped into the sea with the young boy emperor in his arms. 'So ended the glory of the Song', Wood concludes, 'but a new age would arise... as in China, it always has!'.
Series: The Story of China

Secrets of the Seven Earths

   2018    Science    HD
We are living in a new golden age of exploration. Planet hunters are searching far beyond our solar system and they are actually finding new worlds orbiting other suns. Thousands of these alien worlds have already been found, but this is the story of perhaps the greatest discovery yet, a star 40 light-years away with seven Earth-sized planets: Trappist-1.
This new discovery of seven alien Earth-like planets in a faraway solar system is a major milestone in our hunt for extraterrestrial life, and experts investigate the secrets of Trappist -1's mysterious worlds to reveal if we're truly alone in the universe.
Series: Space Deepest Secrets

Prog Rock Britannia

   2009    Art
Documentary about progressive music and the generation of bands that were involved, from the international success stories of Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Jethro Tull to the trials and tribulations of lesser-known bands such as Caravan and Egg. The film is structured in three parts, charting the birth, rise and decline of a movement famed for complex musical structures, weird time signatures, technical virtuosity and strange, and quintessentially English, literary influences.
It looks at the psychedelic pop scene that gave birth to progressive rock in the late 1960s, the golden age of progressive music in the early 1970s, complete with drum solos and gatefold record sleeves, and the over-ambition, commercialisation and eventual fall from grace of this rarefied musical experiment at the hands of punk in 1977. Contributors include Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Pete Sinfield, Rick Wakeman, Phil Collins, Arthur Brown, Carl Palmer and Ian Anderson.

Angkor Land of the Gods

   2011    Art    3D
Buddhists, Hindus, and hundreds of thousands of travellers from around the globe flock to Cambodia every year to experience the grandeur of Angkor. Its famous temples were built over the span of five centuries by the rulers of the Khmer Empire, and endure today as one of Earth's greatest archaeological wonders. Join us as we shed light on one of the most enigmatic, mesmerizing civilizations in the history of mankind. We peel away the myth and legend to uncover the hidden story behind the creation of this ancient city.
Angkor Wat is the largest temple on the face of the Earth and is a symbol of one of the greatest empires in the history of Southeast Asia. And yet, for centuries, the sacred structure remained lost within the tropical forests of Cambodia, along with the history of the young king who built the temple. Discover the story of Suryavarman II and how he ushered in the golden age of the Khmer Empire. See how Angkor Wat was constructed over four backbreaking decades, and witness the monument in its true glory and splendour, as it appeared 900 years ago.
Survivors Guide to Prison
Survivors Guide to Prison

   2018    Culture
Through the Wormhole Season 6
Through the Wormhole Season 6

   2015    Science
Through the Wormhole Season 8
Through the Wormhole Season 8

   2017    Science
The Brain with David Eagleman
The Brain with David Eagleman

   2015    Medicine
Through the Wormhole Season 7
Through the Wormhole Season 7

   2016    Culture
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead

   2017    History
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2015    Culture