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Terraform

   2018    Science
We sure lucked out with Planet Earth. Blue skies, rolling hills, water everywhere. But our home didn't come like this out of the box. Earth was a real fixer-upper, and it took some seriously hard work to build this paradise. Nearly four billion years of renovation. Some tiny, some huge, to make this house a home. Creatures on Earth don't just live and die. They actually change the world around them.
The story of how for nearly 4 billion years, microbes, plants and animals have emerged and sculpted the planet's surface and atmosphere in the strangest of ways.
Series: One Strange Rock

Home

   2018    Science
This is our home, the earth it's, it's the only place we've got. It is one strange rock because it's ours and we are here and we don't know if any other place in the universe, yet, that can support life. We're very lucky to have it as our home.
Astronauts including the legendary Peggy Whitson, who spent 665 days in space, speak about how their concepts of home have changed since their experience.
Series: One Strange Rock

Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing
Minimalists
Minimalists

   2021    Culture
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

   2017    Art
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle

   2018    History
High Score
High Score

   2020    Technology
The Great Acceleration
The Great Acceleration

   2020    Technology
How to Grow a Planet
How to Grow a Planet

   2012    Science
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2014    Culture
Chef's Table
Chef's Table

   2017    Art