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Simply the Best Documentaries

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Dynamic Salt
Star
Empire of Dreams
Chasing Ice
The Green Prince
Space Station
Dinosaurs Alive
WWII In 3D
Deep Sea
Protestantism The Evangelical Explosion
Land of Giants
Meditation Can It Change You
Next of Kin
American Alternative Rock
Lo and Behold Reveries of the Connected World
Requiem for the American Dream
Walking with Monsters
IMAX Hubble
The Story of Maths The Genius of the East
The Grasslands
The Human Face of Big Data
Sharks
Planet Dinosaur Ultimate Killers
Reclaiming the Blade
Deep Web
Planet Earth II Mountains
Chased by Sea Monsters 1of3
First Position
Atom: The Clash of Titans
Triumph
Rembrandt
Game Over Kasparov and the Machine
Queen: Days of Our Lives
Journey to the Edge of the Universe
Kingdom of Plants Life in the Wet Zone
Bomb It

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Know Your Mushrooms
Know Your Mushrooms 2008

Ron Mann investigates the miraculous, near-secret world of fungi. Visionaries Gary Lincoff and Larry Evans lead us on a hunt for the wild mushroom and the deeper cultural experiences attached to the mysterious fungi. The oldest and largest living organisms recorded on Earth are both fungi. And their use by a new, maverick breed of scientists and thinkers has proven vital in the cleansing of sites despoiled by toxins and as a "clean" pesticide, among many other environmentally friendly applications. Combining material filmed at the Telluride Mushroom Fest with animation and archival footage, along with a neo-psychedelic soundtrack by The Flaming Lips, this film opens the doors to perception, taking the audience on an extraordinary trip where the fungi might well guide humanity to a saner, safer place.

Category:Culture  Duration:1:12:45   

The Magic of Mushrooms
The Magic of Mushrooms 2014

Professor Richard Fortey delves into the fascinating and normally-hidden kingdom of fungi. From their spectacular birth, through their secretive underground life to their final explosive death, Richard reveals a remarkable world that few of us understand or even realise exists - yet all life on Earth depends on it. In a specially-built mushroom lab, with the help of mycologist Dr Patrick Hickey and some state-of-the-art technology, Richard brings to life the secret world of mushrooms as never seen before and reveals the spectacular abilities of fungi to break down waste and sustain new plant life, keeping our planet alive. Beyond the lab, Richard travels across Britain and beyond to show us the biggest, fastest and most deadly organisms on the planet - all of them fungi. He reveals their almost magical powers that have world-changing potential - opening up new frontiers in science, medicine and technology.

Category:Science  Duration:59:00   

The Private Life of Plants: Travelling
The Private Life of Plants: Travelling 1994

Sir David Attenborough reveals plants as they have never been seen before - on the move and dangerously devious. About the major problems of life - growing, finding food, reproduction - and the varied ways plants have evolved to solve it. Filmed from the plant's point of view, using computer animations, fibre-optics and unique time-lapse photography. The first episode looks at how plants are able to move". The bramble is an aggressive example: it advances forcefully from side to side and, once settled on its course, there is little that can stand in its way. An altogether faster species is the birdcage plant, which inhabits Californian sand dunes. When its location becomes exposed, it shifts at great speed to another one with the assistance of wind — and it is this that allows many forms of vegetation to distribute their seeds. While not strictly a plant, the spores of fungi are also spread in a similar fashion. One of the most successful (and intricate) flowers to use the wind is the dandelion, whose seeds travel with the aid of 'parachutes'. They are needed to travel miles away from their parents, who are too densely packed to allow any new arrivals. Trees have the advantage of height to send their seeds further, and the cottonwood is shown as a specialist in this regard. The humidity of the tropical rainforest creates transportation problems, and the liana-species Alsomitra macrocarpa is one plant whose seeds are aerodynamic 'gliders'. Some, such as those of the sycamore, take the form of 'helicopters', while others, such as the squirting cucumber release their seeds by 'exploding'. Water is also a widely used method of propulsion. The tropical sea bean Entada gigas has one of the biggest fruits of all plants and is dispersed by water streams. However, most plants use living couriers, whether they be dogs, humans and other primates, ants or birds, etc., and to that end, they use colour and smell to signify when they are ripe for picking.

Category:Nature  Duration:49:00   Series: The Private Life of Plants

The Private Life of Plants Living Together
The Private Life of Plants Living Together 1995

The fifth programme explores the alliances formed between the animal and plant worlds. Attenborough dives into Australia's Great Barrier Reef and contrasts the nocturnal feeding of coral, on microscopic creatures, with its daytime diet of algae. Some acacias are protected by ants, which will defend their refuge from any predator. Besides accommodation, the guards are rewarded with nectar and, from certain species, protein for their larvae as well. Fungi feed on plants but can also provide essential nutriment to saplings (Mycorrhiza). The connection is never broken throughout a tree's life and a quarter of the sugars and starches produced in its leaves is channelled back to its fungal partners. Meanwhile, fungi that feed on dead wood leave a hollow trunk, which also benefits the tree. Orchids enjoy a similar affiliation. Lichens are the product of a relationship between fungi and a photosynthetic associate, usually algae. They are extremely slow-growing, and a graveyard is the perfect location to discover their exact longevity. Mistletoe is a hemiparasite that obtains its moisture from a host tree, while using own leaves to manufacture food. Its seeds are deposited on another by the mistletoe tyrannulet, following digestion of the fruit. The dodder (Cuscuta) is also parasitic, generally favouring nettles, and siphons its nourishment through periodic 'plugs' along its stem. The rafflesia has no stem or leaves and only emerges from its host in order to bloom — and it produces the largest single flower: one metre across.

Category:Nature  Duration:49:00   Series: The Private Life of Plants

 
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