Air-conditioningrefrigeration, and superconductivity are just some of the ways technology has put cold to use. But what is cold, how do you achieve it, and how cold can it get? This documentary series explores these and other facets of the frigid. It follows the quest for cold from the unlikely father of air-conditioning, the court magician of King James I of England in the 17th century, to today’s scientists pioneering super fast computing in the quantum chill. The program is based on the definitive book on cold: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold by Tom Shachtman. Episode 2 The Race For Absolute Zero – picks up the story in the late 19th century, when researchers plunged cold science to new lows as they succeeded in reaching the forbidding realm at which oxygen and then nitrogen liquefy. Scottish chemist James Dewar and Dutch physicist Heike Onnes are featured. The race to the bottom of the temperature scale was as zealous as the contemporaneous race to the Earth’s poles. New techniques developed in the 1990s by Daniel Kleppner set the stage for a race to create an exotic form of matter called a Bose Einstein condensate, which only forms at temperatures vanishingly close to absolute zero.
On April 25,1953, the science journal Nature announced that James Watson and Francis Crick had discovered the double helix structure of DNA, the molecule that is fundamental to life. But absent from most accounts of their Nobel Prize winning work is the contribution made by a scientist, molecular biologist and crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, who would never know that Watson and Crick had seen a key piece of her data without her permission and that it would lead them to the double helix. Fifty years later, this documentary unravels the mystery behind the discovery of the double helix and investigates the seminal role that Rosalind Franklin and her remarkable X-ray photograph played in one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science.
The senses are our guide to the worldkeeping us out of danger and directing us to pleasure. But how sensitive and accurate are they? And Just how intense a sensation can we bear? We will also meet the sensory superstar of the animal kingdom, who can help to explain the biological roots of our own senses. The light hearted but revealing series explores, sense by sense, how they function and why we need them. Then delves so deep you’ll never hear, taste, touch, smell, stand, or see the same way again. Episode 1 Smell and Taste – In the first programme of the series Nigel Marven goes in search of the most disgusting, the most attractive smells and sets out to discover the biological reasons why humans eat such a diverse range of foods, from rotten raw ducks eggs to a sweaty blue cheese. At a chilli eating contest, he pushes his taste buds to the limit.
This documentary tells the enthralling and emotional story of Andrew Wiles. A quiet English mathematicianhe was drawn into maths by Fermat’s puzzle, but at Cambridge in the 1970s, it was considered a joke, so he set it aside. Then, in 1986, an extraordinary idea linked this irritating problem with one of the most profound ideas of modern mathematics the Taniyama Shimura Conjecture. When he heard, Wiles went after his childhood dream again. In June 1993 he reached his goal. At a three day lecture at Cambridge, he outlined a proof of Taniyama, and with it Fermat’s Last Theorem. Then disaster struck. His colleague, Dr Nick Katz, made a tiny request for clarification. It turned into a gaping hole in the proof. As Andrew struggled to repair the damage, pressure mounted for him to release the manuscript, to give up his dream.
The senses are our guide to the worldkeeping us out of danger and directing us to pleasure. But how sensitive and accurate are they? And Just how intense a sensation can we bear? We will also meet the sensory superstar of the animal kingdom, who can help to explain the biological roots of our own senses. The light hearted but revealing series explores, sense by sense, how they function and why we need them. Episode 2 Hearing and Balance – Sound can have a very powerful effect on how we feel about the world and Nigel Marven is on a quest to track down the sounds which have the most powerful emotional effects on us. Balance is our true sixth sense it enables us to sense how our bodies are moving around in the world and keep us upright. There are only two kinds of animal that spend their whole lives performing the tricky balancing act of walking on two legs humans and some flightless birds, like ostriches.
In December 1938in Berlin, a simple chemical experiment showed for the first time that the atom can be split, releasing immense power. Within months, the Wehrmacht had started research into nuclear weapons. The Germans were the first to start work on the atom bomb. The programme investigates the reasons why Hitler was not the first leader to use it, drawing on new evidence gathered by historian Mark Walker. Dramatised scenes, eyewitness accounts from Allied and German scientists, interviews and archive footage are all employed.
The senses are our guide to the worldkeeping us out of danger and directing us to pleasure. But how sensitive and accurate are they? And Just how intense a sensation can we bear? We will also meet the sensory superstar of the animal kingdom, who can help to explain the biological roots of our own senses. The series explores, sense by sense, how they function and why we need them. You’ll never hear, taste, touch, smell, stand, or see the same way again. Episode 3 Touch and Vision – Humans are very sensitive to touch, but different parts of our body have different sensitivities. Nigel demonstrates that when it comes to our sense of touch, humans are similar to elephants. Nigel Marven sets out to discover why we are excellent at seeing some things, but sometimes miss what’s right in front of our eyes.
There’s a region of our planet that no human being has ever visited. No one has ever seen this placeyet what happens here affects every one of us every day of our lives. It’s 2,000 miles beneath our feet, the Earth’s molten core. Here a vast ocean of liquid iron generates an invisible force, the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s what makes our compasses point north. But it does a lot more: it helps to keep the Earth a living planet. Our neighbors, Venus and Mars, have only weak magnetic fields, which means they’re unprotected from the deadly radiation sweeping through the solar system. The Earth, on the other hand, exists within a vast magnetic cocoon, a force field that for billions of years has sheltered us on our journey through space. But now scientists have made a startling discovery. It seems there’s a storm brewing deep within the Earth, a storm that is weakening our vital magnetic shield. Could the Earth really lose its magnetic field? And what will happen if it does?
Discover the science of the frozen past. Archaeologiests use the latest technology to discover the lives of our human ancestors through their frozen remains. These people were no differrent than you and I biologically. They had the same level of intelligenceand were capable of the same emotions, but they lived in a different time and place. Their values, ideas and technology is explored through the frozen remains of their dead. Episode 1 The Ice Maiden – As the solid block of ice began to melt, the team of archaeologists gazed on the body of a young woman buried more than 2,500 years before. Lying around the Ice Maiden’s ceremonial tomb, were six of her horses especially sacrificed for the occasion. The Ice Maiden had been laid to rest in the Pastures of Heaven high in the Altai mountains of Siberia.
For years parallel universes were a staple of the Twilight Zone. Science fiction writers loved to speculate on the possible other universes which might exist. In onethey said, Elvis Presley might still be alive or in another the British Empire might still be going strong. Serious scientists dismissed all this speculation as absurd. But now it seems the speculation wasn’t absurd enough. Parallel universes really do exist and they are much stranger than science fiction writers dared to imagine. By the time they had finished they’d come to the conclusion that our Universe is just one bubble among an infinite number of membranous bubbles. Now imagine what might happen if two such bubble universes touched. Neil Turok from Cambridge, Burt Ovrut from the University of Pennsylvania and Paul Steinhardt from Princeton believe that has happened. The result? A very big bang indeed and a new universe was born, our Universe.
Ancient and deadly spear points were found near ClovisNew Mexico in the 1930s. Many archeologists believed that this type of weapon originated with the first settlers of the New World, who supposedly migrated from Asia at the end of the last ice age. This documentary examines new evidence that challenges this widely held view. The hunt for clues takes this documentary to sites of stunning discoveries in western Pennsylvania and southern Chile, to southern France, to the high arctic, and to a remarkable find in central Texas that may hold the key to who invented the Clovis technology. Many archeologists concluded that hunters equipped with Clovis technology were the first settlers of the Americas and that they probably arrived from Asia at the end of the Ice Age about 13,500 years ago, when lower sea level allowed hunters to cross a land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska. But there is growing evidence that humans were in the Americas long before the Clovis hunters.
Dated to the late Stone AgeStonehenge may be the best-known and most mysterious relic of prehistory. Every year, a million visitors are drawn to England to gaze upon the famous circle of stones, but the monument’s meaning has continued to elude us. Now investigations inside and around Stonehenge have kicked off a dramatic new era of discovery and debate over who built Stonehenge and for what purpose. How did prehistoric people quarry, transport, sculpt, and erect these giant stones? Granted exclusive access to the dig site at Bluestonehenge, a prehistoric stone-circle monument recently discovered about a mile from Stonehenge, NOVA cameras join a new generation of researchers finding important clues to this enduring mystery.
It was thriving long before the dinosaurs ruled the Earthand scientists thought it had died out more than 65 million years ago. But in 1938, fishermen on a South African trawler netted a massive, scaly, blue-gray fish, and suddenly the long extinct creature from the depths was back, stunning scientists and capturing headlines across the world. This documentary tells the story of the coelacanth, the most famous of all living fossils. The coelacanth story has more improbable twists than a crime thriller. The chance discovery in 1938 was topped by a bizarre stroke of fate in 1997, thousands of miles away from the original find. A marine biologist was casually strolling through a fish market in Indonesia when he spotted a new subspecies lying on a slab in a fish market. That find triggered a renewed hunt for the elusive creature in the wild.
History reports that the mighty Inca were swiftly wiped out by a small band of Conquistadors. But new evidence is being unearthed that may help rewrite history. Remains of those who died in battle have been discovered, and for the first time physical evidence is suggesting that Spain’s conquest of the Incan Empire may have actually taken twenty years. Brought to life through CGI reconstruction and reenactments, the untold epic saga of decades of guerilla warfare and rebellion are finally revealed as this documentary uncovers the truth behind the Inca’s last stand.
Horizon puts Graham Hancock’s controversial theories about the past to the testdissecting his evidence for a lost civilization. Although scientists believe they have categorically disproved the myth of Atlantis, the idea is more popular now than ever before. Graham Hancock offers various pieces of evidence to support his theory. He claims that the mysterious lost civilization left its mark in ancient monuments, which he calculates were built to mirror certain constellations of stars. Horizon journeys across the world to examine Hancock’s evidence for a lost civilization and puts his theory to the test. In a film full of contentious debate and powerful arguments, Graham Hancock’s claims are pitted against cutting edge scientific analysis to discover whether his popular theory could be true.
The magnificent ancient city of pyramids at Caral in Peru hit the headlines in 2001. The site is a thousand years older than the earliest known civilization in the Americas and at 2,627 B.C., is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. Many now believe it is the fabled missing link of archaeology – a mother city. If so then these extraordinary findings could finally answer one of the great questions of archaeology why did humans become civilised?
The ancient Maya civilization of Central America left behind an intricate and mysterious hieroglyphic scriptcarved on monuments, painted on pottery, and drawn in handmade bark paper books. For centuries, scholars considered it too complex ever to understand until recently, when an ingenious series of breakthroughs finally cracked the code and unleashed a torrent of new insights into the Mayas’ turbulent past. For the first time, NOVA presents the epic inside story of how the decoding was done traveling to the remote jungles of southern Mexico and Central America to investigate how the code was broken and what Maya writings now reveal.
Tyrannosaurus Rexit’s the scariest, meanest, most bewitching dinosaur of them all. Children are captivated by the sheer savagery of the teeth. Moviemakers made millions out of the terror it inspired. But could our picture of this monster be completely wrong? Was T. Rex in fact a slow lumbering creature, with hideously bad breath, that couldn’t get anywhere close to catching a Triceratops. Was it really a scavenger that lived off the scraps left by others? Was T. Rex, in fact, a wimp?
This is the profile of an extraterrestrial mass murderer: one whose existence was denied by scientific orthodoxy for nearly two decadesbut has now been tracked down. 65 million years ago a 15 kilometers wide asteroid hit the Earth. In 1978 Walter Alvarez, a Nobel prize winning physicist, and his son Luis, first proposed the outrageous idea that a meteorite strike blasted the dinosaurs into extinction, taking with them half of life on the planet. Their theory was hotly disputed. Now the irrefutable evidence is rolling in. Martin Belderson’s dramatic film retraces the hunt for evidence for the hidden smoking cannon the crater left by the impact 65 million years ago.
The legend of Helen of Troy has enchanted audiences for the last three thousand years. A Hollywood film staring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom is about Troy. But is there any reality to the myth? This documentary has unprecedented access to the scientist with the answers. Since 1988 Professor Manfred Korfmann has been excavating the site of Troy. He has made amazing discoverieshow large the city was, how well it was defended and, crucially, that there was once a great battle there at precisely the time that experts believe the Trojan war occurred. But who had attacked the city and why? This documentary follows a trail of clues, the ancient tablets written by a lost civilisation, the sunken ship rich in treasure, and the magnificent golden masks and bronze swords of a warrior people. Korfmann is using science to get closer than ever to the truth behind the myth by digging in tunnels deep beneath the excavation site.
Air-conditioningrefrigeration, and superconductivity are just some of the ways technology has put cold to use. But what is cold, how do you achieve it, and how cold can it get? This documentary series explores these and other facets of the frigid. It follows the quest for cold from the unlikely father of air-conditioning, the court magician of King James I of England in the 17th century, to today’s scientists pioneering super fast computing in the quantum chill. The program is based on the definitive book on cold: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold by Tom Shachtman. Episode 1 The Conquest of Cold – opens in the 1600s when the nature of cold and even heat were a complete mystery. Are they different phenomena or aspects of some unified feature of nature? The experiments that settled these questions helped stoke the Industrial Revolution. This episode includes Cornelius Drebbel’s spooky trick of turning summer into winter for the English king, Antoine Lavoisier’s battle with Count Benjamin Rumford over the caloric theory of heat, and Michael Faraday’s explosive experiments to liquefy gases, which established the principles that make refrigerators possible.
This documentary looks at the fact that perhaps one in every hundred people experiences a blending of the senses. Imagine if every time you saw someone called Derek you got a strong taste of earwax in your mouth. It happens to James Wannertonwho runs a pub. Derek is one of his regulars. Another regular’s name gives him the taste of wet nappies. For some puzzling reason, James’s sense of sound and taste are intermingled. He has a mysterious condition called synaesthesia, in which this senses have become linked. For decades synaesthesia baffled the scientific community and noone could quite believe it was real. Some put it down to an overactive imagination others thought it was caused by associations from childhood that had survived into later life. In the end noone could find out what was causing it, so synaesthesia was placed in the same scientific category as seances and spoon bending. But Professor Ramachandran thought it should be taken more seriously.