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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

Exploring The Universe

   2020    Science
This remarkable science-history series investigates the blistering pace of human endeavour in space exploration, computing, energy, resources, Earth science and our understanding of the evolution of life itself. Across the last 50 years, humans have set a blistering pace and scientific discovery. We've crossed the boundaries of our solar system, made machines that can learn harnessed the power of the sun and built life from scratch. It's a period like no other in history, where human endeavour is changing everything: this is The Great Acceleration. As we race toward the future, we must examine the journey.
In the first episode, Dr Shalin Naik explores the ambitious space shuttle mission that began in the '70s plus the future colonization of Mars. Over the past 50 years, space has become central to everything, from communications to entertainment to climate modelling. And as private enterprise enters space exploration, our understanding of the universe will only continue to expand. We will know if we can survive on other objects - the moon, maybe Mars, maybe even some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Deep space is the last and infinite frontier. That's what we do as human beings. We explore, we learn, we make discoveries, from the moment we're born to the moment we die.
Series: The Great Acceleration

Energy Revolutions

   2020    Technology
Over the last years, the world has experienced an energy revolution, driven by an urgent need to green the grid and save life on Earth as we know it. 50 years ago, a devastating oil crisis kicked off an energy revolution. The world set course to cut the costly habit of burning fossil fuels. With the urgent new threat of a changing climate, the drive to unleash the power of the sun, earth and wind has accelerated into a race for humanity's survival. Change is taken place but, is it happening fast enough to secure our future? Technologies are right here, right now, and they will enable the transition to 100% renewables, because winning the energy race means a win for the entire world.
Series: The Great Acceleration

Life

   2020    Science
Genetic breakthroughs have shed light on how life evolves in real-time. From filling in the missing links to creating a new species, in the last 50 years scientists have solved some of the biggest mysteries of evolution. In this episode, we look at revolutionary discoveries that shook the world and may shape our future.
Series: The Great Acceleration

Wind Farms

   2020    Technology
An engineering revolution is underway. Driven by dedicated individuals who are building extraordinary machines that will change our lives.
The first episode follows the race to generate vast power from thin air - the wind. One of the world’s biggest wind farms is being built off the English coast where the harsh conditions pose great challenges for the team. Meanwhile, a Norwegian team is striving to build the first-ever floating wind farm.
Series: Engineering the Future
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2014    Culture
The Men Who Built America
The Men Who Built America

   2012    History
Ice Age Giants
Ice Age Giants

   2013    Science
Fleetwood Mac Live in Boston
Fleetwood Mac Live in Boston

   2004    Art
Brian Cox Adventures in Space and Time
Brian Cox Adventures in Space and Time

   2021    Technology
Life
Life

   2009    Nature
Life
Life

   2009    Nature