In this series Professor Iain Stewart tells a stunning new story about our planet. He reveals how the greatest changes to the Earth have been driven, above all, by plants. In this first episode Iain journeys from the spectacular caves of Vietnam to the remote deserts of Africa. He sees how plants first harnessed light from the sun and created our life-giving atmosphere. He uncovers the epic battle between the dinosaurs and the tallest trees on the planet. And, using remarkable imagery, he shows plants breathing - and for the first time talking to each other.
Category: Science Length: 59:17
In the days of the Mayas, cenotes – deep, natural pits on the Yucatan peninsula - provided the only means of obtaining drinking water. But in the mythology of this advanced civilisation, these waterholes and caves were also the entrance to Xibalba – the underworld. All deceased were obliged to pass through Xibalba and wait there until they were called into heaven. It was a place in which one made sacrifices to the gods – objects of daily life, as well as bloody, human sacrifices. To this day, the relics of these acts are still in place preserved underwater for more than a thousand years. The entrance to the underworld begins at a dirty waterhole in the middle of the Mexican jungle overgrown and barely recognisable. But immediately after entry, a hall of breath-taking dimensions and beauty is revealed. As if they were sculptures, stalactites and stalagmites lend the underwater cave an almost sacred ambience. By now, one has succumbed to the fascination emanated by the world’s largest underwater cave system. We accompany four professional research divers to Yucatan – a team of specialists, able to squeeze their bodies through crevices and holes, barely larger than their bodies and who master dives that would push even the most experienced divers to their limits. With them, we penetrate worlds only a few people have ever ventured into. We encounter the remains of human victims, prehistoric fireplaces and primeval animal skeletons and undertake a dive, which takes us from the primeval forest to the open sea. We then enter Xibalba – the place of myths and the dead. In the days of the Mayas - a voyage of no return. Today, this is one of the greatest challenges one can face as a diver – the hidden world of the underwater caves of Yucatan – all filmed in 3D.
Category: History Length: 40:00
40,000 years ago the steppes of Eurasia were home to our closest human relative, the Neanderthals. Recent genetic and archaeological discoveries have proven that they were not the dim-witted cave dwellers we long thought they were. In fact, they were cultured, technologically savvy and more like us than we ever imagined! So why did they disappear? We accompany scientists on an exciting search for an answer to this question and come to a startling conclusion... A climate change due to a cataclysmic event.
Category: History Length: 1:27:00
Four and a half billion years ago, the young Earth was a hellish place, a seething chaos of meteorite impacts, volcanoes belching noxious gases, and lightning flashing through a thin, torrid atmosphere. Then, in a process that has puzzled scientists for decades, life emerged. But how? Join mineralogist Robert Hazen as he journeys around the globe. From an ancient Moroccan market to the Australian Outback, he advances a startling and counterintuitive idea—that the rocks beneath our feet were not only essential to jump-starting life, but that microbial life helped give birth to hundreds of minerals we know and depend on today. It's a theory of the co-evolution of Earth and life that is reshaping the grand-narrative of our planet’s story.
Category: Science Length: 54:00
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