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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

Steve Jobs Man in the Machine

   2015    History
Directed by Alex Gibney, it follows the life and work of ex-Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Gibney starts the doc by showing how much people around the world worship Steve Jobs as if he were an idol. He then provides you with a wealth of background information about Jobs' childhood, teenage and college years including how he formed Apple Inc. Fortunately, not all of the doc is hagiography because Gibney does briefly delve into the darker side of Jobs, particularly how selfish he was and mistreated those around him including his ex-wife. Jobs comes across as a charming, intelligent narcissist who knows how to captivate an audience whenever he speaks. In other words, like all great narcissists, he's a very good actor. Gibney certainly knows how to choose the right subject because Jobs' complexity makes him all the more captivating and worthy of a feature-length film. As is usually the case with Gibney's docs, this one is slickly-edited and has just the right amount of comic relief, mostly in the brief video of an young boy joyfully lists all of Apple's technological devices that Steve Jobs created. You'll catch a glimpse of what makes Jobs fallible, and find a little mildly provocative food for thought about the advancement of modern technology, i.e. how technology helps to connect us to one another yet alienates us at the same time.

The God Delusion

   2006    Culture
Atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins visits England, America and Israel interveiwing prominant people of faith; Islamic, Hasidic Jews, and the new Christian sects popping up throughout the world, and expressing his view of the extent to which this fanaticism has degraded our civilisation, and will continue to degrade it. "The God Delusion" explores the unproven beliefs that are treated as factual by many religions and the extremes to which some followers have taken them. Dawkins opens the programme by describing the "would-be murderers ... who want to kill you and me, and themselves, because they're motivated by what they think is the highest ideal." Dawkins argues that "the process of non-thinking called faith" is not a way of understanding the world, but instead stands in fundamental opposition to modern science and the scientific method, and is divisive and dangerous.
Series: The Root of All Evil

The Story of Maths The Frontiers of Space

   2008    Science
In the third episode we will see Europe by the 17th century taking over from the Middle East as the powerhouse of mathematical ideas. Great strides had been made in understanding the geometry of objects fixed in time and space. The race was on to discover the mathematics to describe objects in motion. This programme explores the work of Rene Descartes, Pierre Fermat, Isaac Newton, Leonard Euler and Carl Friedrich Gauss. Du Sautoy proceeds to describes René Descartes realisation that it was possible to describe curved lines as equations and thus link algebra and geometry. He talks with Henk J. M. Bos about Descartes. He shows how one of Pierre de Fermat’s theorems is now the basis for the codes that protect credit card transactions on the internet. He describes Isaac Newton’s development of math and physics crucial to understanding the behaviour of moving objects in engineering. He covers the Leibniz and Newton calculus controversy and the Bernoulli family. He further covers Leonhard Euler, the father of topology, and Gauss' invention of a new way of handling equations, modular arithmetic. The further contribution of Gauss to our understanding of how prime numbers are distributed is covered thus providing the platform for Bernhard Riemann's theories on prime numbers. In addition Riemann worked on the properties of objects, which he saw as manifolds that could exist in multi-dimensional space.
Series: The Story of Maths

Escape to Europe and Cycle of Terror

   2015    Culture
This episode covers the European refugee crisis, the largest refugee migration since World War II. Following the refugees on their journey, Vice sets out to cover not only the trials of those seeking asylum from the Syrian conflict, but the reactions from the Western world and the countries that have sought to take them in. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, the response in many regions has been oppositional, especially in the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels ISIS attacks. In addressing this modern world crisis, Vice depicts the severe trials and tribulations faced by the desperate refugees, and the consequences, noticed or unnoticed, of turning them away.
Series: Vice
P.U.L.S.E
P.U.L.S.E

   2006    Art
Wild South America
Wild South America

   2005    Nature
A Traveler Guide to the Planets
A Traveler Guide to the Planets

   2010    Science
Art of Spain
Art of Spain

   2008    Art
The Universe
The Universe

   2010    Science
The Men Who Built America
The Men Who Built America

   2012    History