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The Trouble with Space Junk
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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.
Humboldt Epic Explorer
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.
Words on a Page
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.
The Secret History of Writing
Space isn't vast and empty space but a dynamic, cosmic storm. It's a storm that could kill us, but without it we wouldn't be here at all. This is a story about the weird connections, the near misses, the lucky breaks that created this amazing world. For 4.5 billion years our planet has been battered and bruised and punched and pummeled but we're still standing. It's actually the battle that's built us and this is the tale of the tape.
Ever wonder how our planet got here? It was born in a cosmic storm. The violence could have destroyed us, but instead it made us.
One Strange Rock
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.
One Strange Rock
How the Universe Works Series 8
The Big Think
Eagles The Farewell 1 Tour
Japan Earth Enchanted Islands
Inside Bills Brain: Decoding Bill Gates
The Story of China
George Harrison Living in the Material World
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