Simply the best Documentaries
Anthropology and Sociology
Ideas and Movements
Agriculture and Livestock
Places on the Globe
Transports and Vehicles
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Pinterest
Happy People A Year in the Taiga
Fracking The New Energy Rush
Love On The Spectrum Episode IV
Ice Age Giants: Land of the Sabre-Tooth
The Pervert Guide to Cinema
Walk with Me
Rise of the Drones
An Everyday Miracle
Attenborough and the Giant Egg
Heart of a Dog
The Germanic Tribes: Barbarians Against Rome
Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here
"Rome" Sort by
Words on a Page
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.
The Secret History of Writing
Hannibal March on Rome
Even 2,000 years after his death, General Hannibal's battle strategies are still studied today. But of all his military feats, perhaps his greatest was leading his massive Carthaginian army of men and three-dozen elephants across the Alps and into the heartland of Rome in 218 B.C. Until now, the route they took has been a matter of dispute, but thanks to modern-day technology, geomorphologist Bill Mahaney and microbiologist Chris Allen believe they've accurately traced this ancient journey.
Planets beyond our solar system are known to astronomers as exoplanets. They are at trillions of miles from Earth and yet, it might be possible to detect a faint signature of life in them. From the light of the stars they orbit that passes through the atmosphere of an exoplanet, it is possible to capture the chemical fingerprint of the elements in that atmosphere.
The fictional world Eden is orbiting not one star, but two. The light from its twin stars powers photosynthesis, pumping more oxygen into the atmosphere than in Earth, allowing life to thrive. Grazers are constantly alert to danger, because the canopy is home to predators perfectly evolved to live among the trees. In Episode 3, another topic are fungi and the role they could play on exoplanets. Ecologist Thomas Crowther talks about the role mycelial networks play in the Rothiemurchus forest in Scotland.
For most of our history, we humans considered ourselves unique. But now, a new, artificial species might challenge our superiority. Mechanical beings have the potential to change everything. How we got them is a story of astonishing twists and amazing turns to achieve us the machine that may turn out to be the most revolutionary technology ever conceived--the robot.
Learn how robots were first conceptualized in ancient Rome and see how their use has evolved over the centuries, from the calculator to the Mars Lander. Then, take a sneak peek at what future robots will be able to do. Narrated by Patrick Stewart.
Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World
The Science of Sleep: How to Sleep Better
Gaby Roslin and Amir Khan present a program in which they apply the latest science to some of the worst sleepers. They include an extreme snorer, a man who suffers from night terrors, a woman who has restless leg syndrome, and a man with chronic insomnia for 20 years.
The film also shows a sleep deprivation experiment to test for risky behaviour, pain resistance and emotional control. When the subjects reach the final hours of the challenge, the experiment begins to take its toll as the participants' emotions go into overdrive, with one threatening to quit altogether.
Ice Age Giants
The Human Body
The Last Narc
The Germanic Tribes
The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice
The Art of Russia
Earth at Night in Color
Follow Our Releases!
Likes and Sharing