Category “Science”

EP 2/6 The Private Life of Plants

Broadcast 12 January 1995, this programme is about how plants gain their sustenance. Sunlight is one of the essential requirements if a seed is to germinate, and Attenborough highlights the cheese plant as an example whose young shoots head for the nearest tree trunk and then climb to the top of the forest canopy, developing its leaves en route. Using sunshine, air, water and a few minerals, the leaves are, in effect, the “factories” that produce food. However, some, such as the begonia, can thrive without much light. To gain moisture, plants typically use their roots to probe...

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EP 3/6 The Private Life of Plants

Broadcast 19 January 1995, the next instalment is devoted to the ways in which plants reproduce. Pollen and a stigma are the two components needed for fertilisation. Most plants carry both these within their flowers and rely on animals to transport the pollen from one to the stigma of another. To do this, they attract their couriers with colour, scent and nectar. It isn’t just birds that help pollination: some mammals and reptiles also do so. However, it is mostly insects that are recruited to carry out the task. To ensure that pollen is not wasted by being delivered to the wrong flower,...

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EP 4/4 Time – Cosmictime

In this four-programme series, string theory pioneer Michio Kaku goes on an extraordinary exploration of the world in search of time. He discovers our sense of time passing and the clocks that drive our bodies. He reveals the forces of time that make and destroy us in a lifetime. He journeys to some of the Earth’s most spectacular geological sites to look for clues to the extraordinary depths of time at a planetary level. Finally, he takes us on a cosmic journey in search of the beginning (and the end) of time itself. Episode 4 – Cosmictime We’ve always structured our lives based...

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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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EP1/6 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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