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Into the Abyss
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How to Live Longer
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This episode covers the nature of how life may have developed on Earth and the possibility of life on other planets. Tyson begins by explaining how the human development of writing systems enabled the transfer of information through generations, describing how Princess Enheduanna ca. 2280 BCE would be one of the first to sign her name to her works, and how Gilgamesh collected stories, including that of Utnapishtim documenting a great flood comparable to the story of Noah's Ark. Tyson explains how DNA similarly records information to propagate life, and postulates theories of how DNA originated on Earth, including evolution from a shallow tide pool, or from the ejecta of meteor collisions from other planets. In the latter case, Tyson explains how comparing the composition of the Nakhla meteorite in 1911 to results collected by the Viking program demonstrated that material from Mars could transit to Earth, and the ability of some microbes to survive the harsh conditions of space. With the motions of solar systems through the galaxy over billions of years, life could conceivably propagate from planet to planet in the same manner. Tyson then moves on to consider if life on other planets could exist. He explains how Project Diana performed in the 1960s showed that radio waves are able to travel in space, and that all of humanity's broadcast signals continue to radiate into space from our planet. Tyson notes that projects have since looked for similar signals potentially emanating from other solar systems. Tyson then explains that the development and lifespan of extraterrestrial civilizations must be considered for such detection to be realized. He notes that civilizations can be wiped out by cosmic events like supernovae, natural disasters such as the Toba disaster, or even self-destruct through war or other means, making probability estimates difficult. Tyson describes how elliptical galaxies, in which some of the oldest red dwarf stars exist, would offer the best chance of finding established civilizations. Tyson concludes that human intelligence properly applied should allow our species to avoid such disasters and enable us to migrate beyond the Earth before the Sun's eventual transformation into a red giant.
Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice
Sir David Attenborough journeys to both Polar Regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet. David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be Open Ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face-to-face with a tranquilised female, and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears. In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space; the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer, as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun's energy. Next David travels to see what's happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level. Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic - David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It's not just the ice that is changing - ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet - the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.
Race For Satellites
During 1953-1958, as the Cold War intensifies, Korolev is asked to build a rocket capable of carrying a five-ton warhead to America - he designs and constructs the R-7 Semyorka, and is later allowed to use it to launch the first satellite, Sputnik 1. Meanwhile, von Braun struggles to persuade the US government to allow him to launch his own satellite - after Sputnik's launch and the failure of the US Navy to launch a Vanguard satellite, he is finally allowed to launch the first American satellite, Explorer 1.
Race To The Moon
During 1964-1969 both sides now plan to put a man on the Moon - while the Soviets struggle, the Americans pull ahead in the space race with Project Gemini, but then suffer a disaster with the Apollo 1 fire. The Soviet space programme suffers its own blows: Sergei Korolev dies when his heart fails during an operation, Soyuz 1 crashes and kills cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, and their planned moon rocket, the N-1 rocket, fails to successfully launch. In America, von Braun has difficulties with the Saturn V, but they are overcome, and the rocket successfully launches the first manned lunar mission, Apollo 8, and the first manned lunar landing, Apollo 11.
From lush cloud forests to bare summits that take your breath away, the higher you climb the tougher life gets on a mountain. Human Planet explores the extraordinary ways in which people survive at extreme altitudes where nature becomes utterly unforgiving. In the Altai Mountains in Western Mongolia the vast open spaces make hunting for animals almost impossible, so the locals have forged an astonishing partnership with golden eagles which can do the hunting for them. On the precipitous cliffs of the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia we join a young boy locked in a dramatic battle with fearsome gelada monkeys which are hell-bent on raiding his family's meagre grain harvest. In the Himalayan state of Nepal - the roof of the world - we witness a rarely seen ceremony: a sky burial. In a land where there is little wood to burn for cremation, and where burying the dead is virtually impossible, the dead are fed to vultures in the ultimate reverence of nature.
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Secret History of Comics
The Untold History of the United States
Life In Cold Blood
Deep Purple: From Here to InFinite
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