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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

In a Time of Shadows

       History
On the second part of his journey through the dark ages Richard Rudgley continues into the age of the wandering peoples, the Volkerwanderung. These Northern people enjoyed a golden age unaffected by Rome and just 30 years after the Romans relinquished Britain, the 'Anglo-Saxons' made their move. The bedraggled legions are in retreat. Walls are pulled down. Mosaics shattered. And yet there never was a people called Anglo-Saxon. We look at the lasting influence of Saxon leaders like Alfred the Great, and his blue print for social justice.
Series: Barbarians: Secrets of the Dark Ages

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

Curse of the Treasure Scrolls

   2021    History
'Stangest Things' series examines those hidden gems that have been tucked away in museums, laboratories and storage rooms around the world. Experts use the latest technology to investigate these incredible artifacts of history.
A bizarre find called Copper Scroll is one of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, but it's unlike any of the others; this strange relic might hold clues to a long-lost treasure, and cutting-edge science may finally reveal answers to this billion-dollar mystery.
Series: Strangest Things
Coldplay Live
Coldplay Live

   2012    Art
How to Grow a Planet
How to Grow a Planet

   2012    Science
Love On The Spectrum
Love On The Spectrum

   2019    Culture
Nova Wonders
Nova Wonders

   2018    Technology
Alien Worlds
Alien Worlds

   2020    Science
Lost Kingdoms of South America
Lost Kingdoms of South America

   2013    History
Life
Life

   2009    Nature
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature