Category “Science”

EP 4/6 The Private Life of Plants

Broadcast 26 January 1995, this episode examines how plants either share environments harmoniously or compete for dominance within them. Attenborough highlights the 1987 hurricane and the devastation it caused. However, for some species, it was that opportunity for which they had lain dormant for many years. The space left by uprooted trees is soon filled by others who move relatively swiftly towards the light. The oak is one of the strongest and longest-lived, and other, lesser plants nearby must wait until the spring to flourish before the light above is extinguished by leaves. Tropical...

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EP 5/6 The Private Life of Plants

Broadcast 2 February 1995, the fifth programme explores the alliances formed between the animal and plant worlds. Attenborough dives into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and contrasts the nocturnal feeding of coral, on microscopic creatures, with its daytime diet of algae. Some acacias are protected by ants, which will defend their refuge from any predator. Besides accommodation, the guards are rewarded with nectar and, from certain species, protein for their larvae as well. Fungi feed on plants but also provide essential nutriment to saplings. The connection is never broken throughout a...

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EP 6/6 The Private Life of Plants

Broadcast 9 February 1995, the final episode deals with plants that live in hostile environments. Attenborough visits Ellesmere Island, north of the Arctic Circle, to demonstrate that even in a place that is unconducive to life, it can be found. Algae and lichens grow in or on rock, and during summer, when the ice melts, flowers are much more apparent. However, they must remain close to the ground to stay out of the chilling wind. In the Tasmanian mountains, plants conserve heat by growing into ‘cushions’ that act as solar panels, with as many as a million individual shoots grouped...

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EP1/3 Genius of Britain

The First Five Some of Britain’s great scientists and inventors have literally created the modern world, from the invention of the steam engine, computers and the world-wide web, to the discovery of the theory of evolution and the atom. The first programme begins 350 years ago when a small group of friends, colleagues and rivals defied everything that was known about the world at that time. Stephen Hawking and Jim Al-Khalili explain how Isaac Newton saw mathematics at the root of everything, from gravity to light. James Dyson demonstrates Robert Boyle’s air pump, which revealed...

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EP1/3 Invisible Worlds – Speed Limits

Speed Limits: Richard Hammond explores the extraordinary wonders of the world of detail hidden in the blink of an eye. The human eye takes about fifty milliseconds to blink. But it takes our brain around a hundred and fifty milliseconds to process what we see. We’re not aware of this time lag going on, but in those few milliseconds, there are extraordinary things happening that completely pass us by. But what if we could break through this speed limit? Bend and stretch time in ways never thought possible. What new marvels would we see? Now, using the latest high-speed cameras, Richard...

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EP1/6 Speed

The Thrill of Speed The central premise of Speed is an intriguing one, that human beings are the only species capable of exceeding the speed limit that nature intended. Clarkson sets out to explore both what compels us to pursue these limits--often at considerable risk to our own safety--and what effect the quest has on us. The result was an immensely engaging series, a few highlights of which are collected on this...

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EP2/3 Genius of Britain

A Roomful of Brilliant Minds This episode looks at the scientific spark that ignited the Industrial Revolution in Britain. James Dyson tells the story of how a young James Watt was inspired to perfect the steam engine that would change the world forever. Jim Al-Khalili explains how Joseph Priestley, a clergyman with a fascination for gases, discovered the very air we breathe and started a craze for soda water. David Attenborough talks about his hero Joseph Banks, the great naturalist who sailed to the South Seas and founded Kew Gardens on his return. And Robert Winston reveals the...

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EP2/3 Invisible Worlds – Out of Sight

Out of Sight : The human eye is a remarkable piece of precision engineering, but it is also extremely limited. Beyond the narrow range of light that makes up the familiar colours of the rainbow is a vast spectrum of light, entirely unseen. But what if we could see beyond the narrow boundaries of our eyes and peer into this invisible realm? Richard Hammond does just that, using groundbreaking new imaging technologies to take the viewer on a breathtaking journey of discovery beyond the visible spectrum, seeing the world, quite literally, in a whole new light. From death-defying aerial...

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EP2/4 Wonders of the Universe

Stardust In the second stop in his exploration of the wonders of the universe, Professor Brian Cox goes in search of humanity’s very essence to answer the biggest questions of all: what are we? And where do we come from? This film is the story of matter – the stuff of which we are all made. Brian reveals how our origins are entwined with the life cycle of the stars. But he begins his journey here on Earth. In Nepal, he observes a Hindu cremation. Hindu philosophy is based on an eternal cycle of creation and destruction, where the physical elements of the body are recycled on to the...

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