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The Survival

   2012    Nature    3D
David Attenborough discovers the plants that have evolved to shed their dependency on water enabling them to survive in the driest environments. The story begins at midnight in midsummer as David steps into the Princess of Wales Conservatory to witness the extraordinary nocturnal blooming of a cactus. The queen of the night, with its giant flowers, is the centre piece of a stunning symphony of cacti blooms that burst open in the desert (and at Kew) at night. In a mesmerizing 3D slow motion sequence, we discover the extraordinary connections between cacti and their natural pollinators: bats. As the sun rises, David meets other amazing plants. Species like the century plant, the Agave franzosini, which grows steadily for over 50 years, only to then flower itself to death with one mighty telegraph pole sized bloom which literally bursts out of the roof of Kew’s green house.
Series: Kingdom of Plants

Blood Filled Streets

   2016    History
After the murder of his brother Frank, Al Capone is out for revenge against William Dever and the Chicago police. He plots to kill every undercover cop that was in Cicero on the day of Frank’s death. Before he can set his plan in motion, however, Johnny Torrio returns from Italy and reclaims his control of their criminal empire. Torrio forbids Capone from killing cops, fearing it would spark an all-out war. Despite Capone’s personal loss, Torrio returns to a booming business that’s raking in $10 million a month. However, as Torrio and Capone’s empire grows, it becomes harder to keep smaller factions under control. After a small group of Italian mobsters attacks one of Dean O’Banion’s distilleries, O’Banion blames Torrio and decides to end their business partnership. He announces his retirement to Torrio and offers Torrio an opportunity to buy him out. Torrio meets O’Banion at the Seine Brewery on May 19, 1924, with the buyout money. Chicago police raid the brewery and arrest Torrio while letting O’Banion walk free: O’Banion had set the whole thing up. With prior convictions, Torrio serves a mandatory prison sentence but is first released on bail. He vows to kill O’Banion as payback and gives Capone his blessing to kill O’Banion. Capone spends months planning the hit. Capone knows that catching O’Banion off guard is nearly impossible, so he places an order with O’Banion’s flower shop for nearly $20,000 worth of flowers, knowing that O’Banion personally oversees his biggest arrangements. On November 10, 1924, O’Banion works in his shop preparing the flower delivery. Two of Capone’s men enter the shop and fatally gun O’Banion down. Four days later, Chicago’s most powerful Irish gangster is laid to rest in one of the most lavish funerals Chicago has ever seen. More than two dozen cars are required to transport floral arrangements as a crowd of 10,000 mourns the death of the infamous gangster. Torrio and Capone attend the funeral, infuriating O’Banion’s top lieutenants, Hymie Weiss and Bugs Moran. Chaos breaks out as smaller gangs through the city begin a turf war. It’s the beginning of an era of bloodshed in Chicago known as the Beer Wars. Over 300 people are murdered at a rate of 75 to 100 murders a year.
Series: The Making of the Mob

Numbers as God

   2018    Science
Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry explores the mystery of maths. It underpins so much of our modern world that it's hard to imagine life without its technological advances, but where exactly does maths come from? Is it invented like a language or is it something discovered and part of the fabric of the universe? It's a question that some of the most eminent mathematical minds have been wrestling with. To investigate this question, Hannah goes head first down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's law of gravity, she paraglides to understand where the theory of maths and its practice application collide, and she travels to infinity and beyond to discover that some infinities are bigger than others.
In this episode, Hannah goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks to find out why they were so fascinated by the connection between beautiful music and maths. The patterns our ancestors found in music are all around us, from the way a sunflower stores its seeds to the number of petals in a flower. Even the shapes of some of the smallest structures in nature, such as viruses, seem to follow the rules of maths. All strong evidence for maths being discovered. But there are those who claim maths is all in our heads and something we invented. To find out if this is true, Hannah has her brain scanned. It turns out there is a place in all our brains where we do maths, but that doesn't prove its invented.
Experiments with infants, who have never had a maths lesson in their lives, suggests we all come hardwired to do maths. Far from being a creation of the human mind, this is evidence for maths being something we discover. Then along comes the invention of zero to help make counting more convenient and the creation of imaginary numbers, and the balance is tilted in the direction of maths being something we invented. The question of whether maths is invented or discovered just got a whole lot more difficult to answer
Series: Magic Numbers

The Deserts

   2011    Culture
We can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water: it is the essential element of life. Yet many millions of us live in parched deserts around the world. In the second episode of Human Planet, we discover how the eternal quest for water brings huge challenges - and ingenious solutions - in the driest places on Earth. Battling through a sand storm in Mali, Mamadou must get his cows to a remote lake but desert elephants have arrived first. Can he find a safe way through the elephant blockade? Alone for weeks on end, Tubu women and children navigate the endless dunes of the Sahara. How does young Shede know where to find the last oasis, three days walk across the sea of sand? At the height of the drought we witness a spectacular frenzy: two thousand men rushing into Antogo Lake to catch the fish trapped by the evaporating water. When the rain finally arrives in the desert it's a time for flowering and jubilation - and love. The Wodaabe men of Niger put on make-up for an intoxicating courtship dance and beauty contest.
Series: Human Planet

Flowering

   1995    Nature
The third episode is devoted to the ways in which plants reproduce. Pollen and a stigma are the two components needed for fertilisation. Most plants carry both these within their flowers and rely on animals to transport the pollen from one to the stigma of another. To do this, they attract their couriers with colour, scent and nectar. It isn't just birds that help pollination: some mammals and reptiles also do so. However, it is mostly insects that are recruited to carry out the task. To ensure that pollen is not wasted by being delivered to the wrong flower, some species of plant have developed exclusive relationships with their visitors, and the gentian and its attendant carpenter bees is one example. Since pollen can be expensive to produce in terms of calories, some plants, such as orchids, ration it by means of pollinia and a strategically placed landing platform. Other orchids offer no reward for pollination, but instead mislead their guests by mimicking their markings and aroma, thus enticing males to 'mate' with them (Pseudocopulation). The most extreme fertilisation method is one of imprisonment, and one plant that uses it is the dead horse arum. It is often found near gull colonies, and mimics the appearance and smell of rotting flesh. Blow-flies are attracted to it, and are forced to stay the night before being allowed to depart in the morning, laden with pollen. Finally, Attenborough introduces the world's largest inflorescence: that of the titan arum.
Series: The Private Life of Plants
History of the Eagles
History of the Eagles

   2013    History
The Story of China
The Story of China

   2016    History
Stangest Things
Stangest Things

   2021    History
Wild Wild Country
Wild Wild Country

   2018    Culture
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
The Cell
The Cell

      Science