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The Insatiable Appetite

   1998    Nature
The next instalment focuses on dietary needs and how different species have evolved beaks to suit their individual requirements. The latter come in a multitude of forms. Blue tits and goldfinches have beaks akin to tweezers, with which to extract seeds, while the hawfinch's razor-like bill can deal with a cherry-stone. However, the crossbill is the only finch that can twist its mandibles in opposite directions. Jays store acorns for winter by burying them in the ground, whereas woodpeckers can keep up to 60,000 of them in one tree trunk. Sap is also desirable, and there are a variety of methods used to obtain it. The hoatzin is the only specialised leaf-eater, and accordingly has a digestive system more akin to that of cattle. Plants recruit birds to aid pollination, and offer nectar as a reward. Hummingbirds eat little else, and the sword-bill's beak is the longest of any bird in relation to its body. Insects are also highly prized, and Galapagos finches are shown to possess some ingenuity as they not only strip bark, but also use 'tools' to reach their prey. Crows are hailed as being among the most intelligent birds, and one is shown using a twig to spear a grub within a fallen log. The robin is an opportunist, and Sir Attenborough observes one seizing morsels as he digs a patch of earth. In South America, a cattle tyrant sits atop an obliging capybara and uses its vantage point to spot passing food that may be dislodged by its grazing partner.
Series: The Life of Birds

The Story of Maths The Frontiers of Space

   2008    Science
In the third episode we will see Europe by the 17th century taking over from the Middle East as the powerhouse of mathematical ideas. Great strides had been made in understanding the geometry of objects fixed in time and space. The race was on to discover the mathematics to describe objects in motion. This programme explores the work of Rene Descartes, Pierre Fermat, Isaac Newton, Leonard Euler and Carl Friedrich Gauss. Du Sautoy proceeds to describes René Descartes realisation that it was possible to describe curved lines as equations and thus link algebra and geometry. He talks with Henk J. M. Bos about Descartes. He shows how one of Pierre de Fermat’s theorems is now the basis for the codes that protect credit card transactions on the internet. He describes Isaac Newton’s development of math and physics crucial to understanding the behaviour of moving objects in engineering. He covers the Leibniz and Newton calculus controversy and the Bernoulli family. He further covers Leonhard Euler, the father of topology, and Gauss' invention of a new way of handling equations, modular arithmetic. The further contribution of Gauss to our understanding of how prime numbers are distributed is covered thus providing the platform for Bernhard Riemann's theories on prime numbers. In addition Riemann worked on the properties of objects, which he saw as manifolds that could exist in multi-dimensional space.
Series: The Story of Maths

The Buddha

   2010    History
After 400 BC, a new philosophy was born in South east Asia, generated from the ideas of Buddha, a mysterious Prince from India who gained enlightenment while he sat under a large, shapely fig tree. He remains one of the most legendary and influential of all religious progenitors, but what of his actual life? In this biographical documentary, director David Grubin tells the historical tale of Gautama Buddha (563-483 BC), from his initial enlightenment through his death around the age of 80. In the process, Grubin makes an unusual point: that Gautama never once claimed to be God or God's emissary, but instead sought to find a way to bring peace and alleviation from suffering to others in a cruel and often insane world. In telling this story, Grubin combines a number of elements including original animations, testimony by contemporary Buddhists such as the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, glimpses of sculptures and paintings that help tell Gautama's story, and much more. Narrated by Richard Gere
Prehistoric America
Prehistoric America

   2003    Nature
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature
Life In Cold Blood
Life In Cold Blood

   2008    Nature
Generation Iron
Generation Iron

   2017    Culture
Life Story
Life Story

   2014    Nature
The Art of Germany
The Art of Germany

   2010    Art
Bronze Age
Bronze Age

   2016    History