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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

Curse of the White Holes

   2021    Science
The white hole is a region of spacetime and that cannot be entered from the outside, although energy-matter, light and information can escape from it. In this sense, it is the reverse of a black hole. Einstein predicted strange cosmic phenomena known as white holes, but scientists have yet to prove they exist.
Today, astronomers race to find the clues that can unlock the secrets of white holes. They investigate the tiny black holes that hide in the most ancient parts of the universe to finally find the smoking gun.
Series: Space Deepest Secrets Series 8

The Giant Ice Planets

   2021    Science
Uranus and Neptune, two of the largest, farthest and strangest planets in our solar system. These two planets break all the rules. Of all the big planets, Uranus and Neptune remain the biggest enigmas. Today, astronomers are finally unlocking why these supersized snowballs are so weird. Can an ancient mega-collision reveal what knocked Uranus onto its side? Can a missing twin world unlock why one of Neptune's moons orbits the wrong way? And what is the energy that drives the fastest winds in the solar system?
Series: Space Deepest Secrets Series 8

The Relic that Sees the Future

   2021    History
A bizarre 3,000 year-old gold relic crafted with intricately designed cryptic patterns is believed to form a highly complex celestial code; using advanced imaging technology, experts speculate that it could be an ancient device for predicting the future.
Professor Timothy Koeth at Maryland University received a package containing a curiously heavy two-inch black cube. It comes with a message: "Taken from Germany from the nuclear reactor that Hitler tried to build."
Series: Strangest Things

Taurus Mountains to Istanbul

   2017    Culture
In the Taurus Mountains Simon stays with descendants of the original Turks, nomads known as Yoruks, whose lifestyle is under threat from the modern world and an increasingly religious government. They're not the only minority at odds with the authorities in Turkey; Simon sees first-hand the devastating effects of fighting in the country's Kurdish region. In an area where the government has detained foreign journalists, Simon gathers unique footage in the aftermath of a crackdown on Kurdish militants - the wholesale destruction of the historic centre of one of Turkey's oldest cities.
Away from the conflict in the south, Simon heads towards the Black Sea coast. He meets a wildlife conservationist protecting Turkey's population of brown bears, and villagers who still communicate over long distances using an ancient bird language. In the country's capital he meets a victim of President Erdogan's authoritarian purge of people accused of complicity in the failed coup against him.
Finally Simon's journey comes full circle when he returns to Istanbul - home to the new craze of 'Ottomania', a celebration of the vast empire that preceded modern Turkey. Simon visits the set of one of the world's most popular TV dramas - even getting a speaking role - based in the court of an Ottoman sultan
Series: Turkey with Simon Reeve
Chemistry
Chemistry

   2010    Science
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture
Lost Kingdoms of South America
Lost Kingdoms of South America

   2013    History
Eden: Untamed Planet
Eden: Untamed Planet

   2021    Nature
Colour The Spectrum of Science
Colour The Spectrum of Science

   2015    Science
Space Deepest Secrets Series 8
Space Deepest Secrets Series 8

   2021    Science