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Microscopic Universe

   2012    Science
The key to understanding the universe seems to be understanding its smallest components. But the quantum realm bears little resemblance to the universe we know. Image a particle that can be many places at the same time and communicate changes instantly across vast distances, even to the other side of the Universe. Shrinking down billions of times, into the realm of atoms and sub-atomic particles, takes us into a bizarre world of paradoxes and multiverses. Explore with us quantum physics and the potential applications in computer science.
Series: The Universe

Silk Roads and China Ships

   2016    History
Michael Wood tells the tale of China's first great international age under the Tang Dynasty (618-907). From the picturesque old city of Luoyang, he travels along the Silk Road to the bazaars of central Asia and into India on the track of the Chinese monk who brought Buddhism back to China. This tale is still loved by the Chinese today and is brought to life by storytellers, films and shadow puppet plays. Then in the backstreets and markets of Xi'an, Michael meets descendants of the traders from central Asia and Persia who came into China on the Silk Road. He talks to Chinese Muslims in the Great Mosque and across town hears the amazing story of the first reception of Christianity in 635. Moving south, Michael sees the beginnings of China as an economic giant. On the Grand Canal, a lock built in 605 still handles 800 barges every day! The film tracks the rise of the silk industry and the world's favourite drink - tea. Michael looks too at the spread of Chinese script, language and culture across east Asia. 'China's influence on the East was as profound as Rome on the Latin West', he says, 'and still is today'. Finally, the film tells the intense drama of the fall of the Tang. Among the eyewitnesses were China's greatest poets. In a secondary school in a dusty village, where the Chinese Shakespeare - Du Fu - is buried in the grounds, the pupils take Michael through one famous poem about loss and longing as the dynasty falls. And in that ordinary classroom, there is a sense of the amazing drama and the deep-rooted continuities of Chinese culture.
Series: The Story of China

The Last Empire

   2016    History
China's last empire, the Qing, lasted from 1644 to 1912. It began in violence and war as the Manchus swept down from the north, but invaders became emperors, with three generations of one family ruling the country. Among them, Michael Wood argues, was China's greatest emperor - Kangxi. Under the Qing, China doubled in size to include Xinjiang in the far west, as well as Mongolia and Tibet, creating the essential shape of China today. The new dynasty tolerated a diversity of cultures and religions, including Islam. In Kaifeng, Michael visits a women's mosque with a female imam, a delightful scene that ends with laughter and selfies! The Qing also undertook huge cultural enterprises. At a traditional printing house where the wood blocks are hand-carved, we see how the Complete Tang Poems were reproduced - all 48,000 of them. We travel through the wintry countryside to a remote village where a hardy audience watch open-air opera in the snow and visit a painter's studio, and 'storytelling' houses in Yangzhou. In the 18th century, China was arguably the greatest economy in the world, and we get a fabulous sense of the rich culture that came with prosperity. But then came the clash with the British, in the first Opium War, when a British expedition destroyed the Qing navy and extracted territory and trading rights. We leave with a glimpse of the future. 'Every dynasty has risen and declined,' says Michael, 'and has needed new life to regenerate, and this time the catalyst was the British.' Among the ports China ceded was an almost uninhabited island, Hong Kong, one of today's greatest financial centres, and Shanghai, a small town then but now one of the greatest cities in world.
Series: The Story of China

God in the Dock

   2011    Culture
Diarmaid MacCulloch's own life story makes him a symbol of a distinctive feature about Western Christianity - scepticism, a tendency to doubt which has transformed both Western culture and Christianity. In the final programme in the series, he asks where that change came from. He challenges the simplistic notion that faith in Christianity has steadily ebbed away before the relentless advance of science, reason and progress, and shows instead how the tide of faith perversely flows back in. Despite the attacks of Newton, Voltaire, the French Revolutionaries and Darwin, Christianity has shown a remarkable resilience. The greatest damage to Christianity was actually inflicted to its moral credibility by the two great wars of the 20th century and by its entanglement with Fascism and Nazism. And yet it is during crisis that the Church has rediscovered deep and enduring truths about itself, which may even be a clue to its future.
Series: A History of Christianity

Big Blue

   2017    Nature
The big blue is the world's greatest wilderness, far from shore and many kilometres deep. It's a vast marine desert where there is little to eat and nowhere to hide. Yet it's home to some of the biggest and most spectacular creatures on earth. This episode reveals what it takes to survive in this savage and forbidding world. We witness feats of incredible endurance, moments of high drama and extraordinary acts of heart-wrenching self-sacrifice. Every animal in the big blue must find their own unique way to survive. Sperm whales have the largest brains in the world. They live for 80 years, and we are only now beginning to learn the extraordinary complexity of their language of clicks - thought to coordinate the whole family in everything from childcare to hunting. With special pressure-proof cameras, we witness record-breaking feats of endurance as they hunt for squid a kilometre down into the abyss. Only recently have we begun to solve the mystery of where baby turtles disappear to in their early years. They leave the crowded waters of the coast and head to the open ocean, where they use floating debris like logs as life rafts. Here they remain until adulthood, adrift on the high seas in relative safety away from coastal predators. Over half of all animals in the open ocean drift in currents. Jellyfish cross entire oceans feeding on whatever happens to tangle with their tentacles. The jelly-like Portuguese man-of-war can harness sail power to fish with its deadly tentacles. Sometimes there is a brief explosion of food in this marine desert, but ocean hunters must be fast to make the best of this bonanza. We witness super pods of up to 5,000 spinner dolphins racing to herd vast shoals of lanternfish, briefly caught at the surface where it is thought they spawn. New aerial footage reveals, for the first time, the truth to a centuries-old sailors' legend of the 'boiling seas' - the spectacular feeding frenzy of 90kg tuna and dolphins smashing through the lantern fish shoals turning the sea white with foam.
Series: Blue Planet II
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture
Space Race
Space Race

   2005    Technology
Top Gear
Top Gear

   2012    Technology
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
Black Hole Apocalypse
Black Hole Apocalypse

   2018    Science
Space Phenomena
Space Phenomena

   2020    Science
High Score
High Score

   2020    Technology