Professor Brian Cox travels from the fossils of the Burgess Shale to the sands of the oldest desert in the world to show how light holds the key to our understanding of the whole universe, including our own deepest origins. To understand how light holds the key to the story of the universe; you first have to understand its peculiar properties. Brian considers how the properties of light that lend colour to desert sands and the spectrum of a rainbow can lead to profound insights into the history and evolution of our universe. Finally, with some of the world's most fascinating fossils in hand, Brian considers how but for an apparently obscure moment in the early evolutionary history of life, all the secrets of light may have remained hidden. Because although the universe is bathed in light that carries extraordinary amounts of information about where we come from, it would have remained invisible without a crucial evolutionary development that allowed us to see. Only because of that development can we now observe, capture and contemplate the incredible wonders of the universe that we inhabit.
Category:Science Duration:59:00 Series: Wonders of the Universe
Fifty years ago there were close to half-a-million lions in Africa. Today there are around 20,000. To make matters worse, lions, unlike elephants, which are far more numerous, have virtually no protection under government mandate or through international accords. This is the jumping-off point for a disturbing, well-researched and beautifully made cri de coeur from husband and wife team Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana who have been Explorers-in-Residence at National Geographic for more than four years. Pointing to poaching as a primary threat while noting the lion's pride of place on the list for eco-tourists-an industry that brings in 200 billion dollars per year worldwide-the Jouberts build a solid case for both the moral duty we have to protect lions (as well as other threatened "big cats," tigers among them) and the economic sense such protection would make. And when one takes into account the fact that big cats are at the very top of the food chain-and that their elimination would wreak havoc on all species below them, causing a complete ecosystem collapse-the need takes on a supreme urgency.
Scientific advancements are challenging the concept of what it means to be human. Technology embedded in our bodies is fairly common: artificial limbs, pacemakers. But new research is taking us beyond replacement parts and into a new realm that is changing the nature of the human body and the human mind. Will the fusion of biology and technology change how we think, how we feel, how we experience the world?
Category:Technology Duration:44:00 Series: Breakthrough
David Attenborough discovers the plants that have evolved to shed their dependency on water enabling them to survive in the driest environments. The story begins at midnight in midsummer as David steps into the Princess of Wales Conservatory to witness the extraordinary nocturnal blooming of a cactus. The queen of the night, with its giant flowers, is the centre piece of a stunning symphony of cacti blooms that burst open in the desert (and at Kew) at night. In a mesmerizing 3D slow motion sequence, we discover the extraordinary connections between cacti and their natural pollinators: bats. As the sun rises, David meets other amazing plants. Species like the century plant, the Agave franzosini, which grows steadily for over 50 years, only to then flower itself to death with one mighty telegraph pole sized bloom which literally bursts out of the roof of Kew’s green house.
Category:Nature Duration:52:24 Series: Kingdom of Plants
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