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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

Expanded Horizons

   2018    Science
Dr Hannah Fry travels down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's ideas on gravity. His discoveries revealed the movement of the planets was regular and predictable. James Clerk Maxwell unified the ideas of electricity and magnetism, and explained what light was. As if that wasn't enough, he also predicted the existence of radio waves. His tools of the trade were nothing more than pure mathematics. All strong evidence for maths being discovered.
But in the 19th century, maths is turned on its head when new types of geometry are invented. No longer is the kind of geometry we learned in school the final say on the subject. If maths is more like a game, albeit a complicated one, where we can change the rules, surely this points to maths being something we invent - a product of the human mind. To try and answer this question, Hannah travels to Halle in Germany on the trail of perhaps one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, Georg Cantor. He showed that infinity, far from being infinitely big, actually comes in different sizes, some bigger than others. This increasingly weird world is feeling more and more like something we've invented. But if that's the case, why is maths so uncannily good at predicting the world around us? Invented or discovered, this question just got a lot harder to answer.
Series: Magic Numbers

The Explorers

   2018    Technology
A look at the probes which explored our Solar System, laying the groundwork for a future spacecraft to search for life on a second Earth. That space craft must communicate, it must navigate, it must have power, it must have propulsion. We will have to give it all the intelligence necessary to make its own decisions. In 'The Explorers' the spacecraft Artemis initiates launch sequence and begins its 4.7 light year journey to Minerva B - an Earth-like exoplanet.
Series: Living Universe

Mystery of the Alien Asteroid

   2018    Science    HD
When a mysterious cigar-shaped object is spotted tumbling through our solar system, experts race to uncover it's true nature. The object, nicknamed Oumuamua, meaning 'a messenger that reaches out from the distant past' in Hawaiian, was discovered by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Since its discovery, scientists have been at odds to explain its unusual features and precise origins, with researchers first calling it a comet and then an asteroid before finally deeming it the first of its kind: a new class of 'interstellar objects.'
A recent paper by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics raises the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, which is 10 times as long as it is wide and travelling at speeds of 196,000 mph, might have an 'artificial origin.' The theory is based on the object's 'excess acceleration,' or its unexpected boost in speed as it travelled through and ultimately out of our solar system.
Series: Space Deepest Secrets

Life of a Universe End of Days

   2017    Science    HD
Inspired by the Southern Sky as he travels Australia, Brian reveals our very latest understanding about how the Universe began & how it will end.
Series: Life of a Universe
How the Universe Works Season 4
How the Universe Works Season 4

   2015    Science
In Search of
In Search of

   2018    Culture
Earth from Space
Earth from Space

   2018    Nature
Catalyst
Catalyst

   2017    Science
Oceans
Oceans

   2009    Nature
Breakthrough
Breakthrough

   2015    Medicine
Bronze Age
Bronze Age

   2016    History
Vice
Vice

   2013    Culture