Friday, October 31, 2008

The Haunted History of Halloween

Every October 31, pint-sized ghouls and goblins wander through neighborhoods knocking on doors and asking for treats . . . little do they know they're actually carrying out an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years.

Join Harry Smith of CBS's "The Early Show" as he leads this 3,000-year expedition through the history of the characteristically pagan holiday of Halloween. Discover how the trick-or-treat custom originated during the harvest festivals in ancient Ireland when food and sweets were used to coax the dead into remaining in the spirit world. Learn how Christianity tried to co-opt the celebration by turning it into All Saints Day, but how the underlying and sometimes controversial dark elements of the holiday have survived.

THE HAUNTED HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN takes a captivating journey through the mysterious tales behind the spookiest night of the year.

More documentaries like this...

The Story of God

The Story of One

The Lost Gospels

Buy the whole 'haunted history' series on DVD...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Seven Wonders of the Muslim World

This documentary traces the history and message of Islam by following the journeys of six pilgrims to Mecca.

A series of intimate, 10-minute portraits, explores the lives and beliefs of six young people whose usual places of worship are beautiful and historic mosques across the Muslim world. The films accompany them as they leave their homes and families, follow them as they travel to Saudi Arabia, and share their responses to the culmination of their journey of a lifetime – the pilgrimage to Mecca, where the prophet Muhammed was born.

Within decades of the death of Muhammed, Islam spread fast and its history can be traced through the flowering of exquisite Muslim architecture. Over the next few hundred years, fabulous mosques from Spain to Iran, and from Turkey to Mali formed a focus of Muslim life, as they continue to do today. The Seven Wonders of the Muslim World starts its journey at six of these locations and completes it at the mosque towards which all practising Muslims turn when they pray.

The seven wonders

1. The Grand Mosque in Mecca is the largest mosque in the world. At its centre is the Kaaba, a cubic building covered in a gold-embroidered black cloth towards which Muslims turn as they pray. Every year, millions of people perform the Hajj – the pilgrimage during the 12th month of the Islamic year – and many others make the pilgrimage at other times of year, which is called the Umrah.

2. The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest city is situated next to the Dome of the Rock. This iconic golden dome can be seen from all over Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa, dates from the late 7th century, making it one of the oldest mosques in the world.

3. The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, which dates from the 13th century, was designed by Muslim architects and built by the Muslim rulers of El Andaluz, or Andalucia. It was inspired by Qur’anic descriptions of paradise as an oasis, with trees, fountains and buildings

4. The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, lined with blue tiles and reflecting the Byzantine church architecture of 400 years ago, expresses the sumptuousness of the Ottoman Empire and represents the zenith of Muslim architecture.

5. The Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali is the tallest mud-built mosque in the world. Its thick walls and many roof supports make it dark and simple inside. Every Friday, people in this huge but poor country come into the city to pray here.

6. The Imam Mosque in Esfahan, Iran, is magnificent in its design and decoration. Built in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was a stunning statement of Persian imperial power, and incorporates a pool, colleges and communal space, as well as the mosque itself.

7. The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan was built in 1673 and is a wonderful example of Mughal architecture. The building’s openness is in line with the Islam of the Indian subcontinent, which has traditionally been accommodating to all sects

More documentaries like this...

Inside Mecca

Inside Burma's Secret War

Clash of the Worlds

The Crusades - the Cresent & the Cross

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Moon For Sale

After 40 years, man is preparing to return to the Moon. But this time the astronauts won't just land on the Moon - they plan to stay.

From his office in Nevada, Dennis Hope has spawned a multi-million dollar business selling lunar real estate. But scientists believe the real prize is trapped in the Moon's rocks. It contains large deposits of an extremely rare gas called Helium-3. Could Helium-3 be mined and used as a new source of almost inexhaustible, clean and pollution-free energy on Earth?

Whoever succeeds in transporting Helium-3 back to Earth could solve the world's energy crisis. Who will win what has been dubbed the second Moon race? And should we be exploiting the Moon's valuable resources at all?

Documentaries like this...

The Elegant Universe

BBC Space - with Sam Neil

What on Earth is Wrong With Gravity?

Are We Alone in the Universe?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The President's Guide to Science

Horizon asks some of the biggest names in science to have a quiet word with the new President, be it...


or McCain

The United States President is quite simply the most powerful man on earth, but past Presidents have often known little about science.

That is a problem when the decisions they make will affect every one of us, from nuclear proliferation to climate change. To help the new President get to grips with this intimidating responsibility, some of the world's leading scientists, from Dawkins to Watson, share some crucial words of advice.

Ape Genius

At a research site in Fongoli, Senegal, a female chimpanzee breaks off a branch, chews the end to make it sharp, then uses this rudimentary spear to skewer a tasty bushbaby hiding inside a hollow tree. The footage represents an astonishing breakthrough for primate researchers: It's the first time anyone has documented a chimpanzee wielding a carefully prepared, preplanned weapon.

But it's only the latest in a slew of extraordinary new findings about ape behavior. The more researchers learn about the great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans—the more evidence they find of creative intelligence. What, then, is the essential difference between us and them? "Ape Genius," a NOVA-National Geographic special, explores that provocative question and examines research that is illuminating the ape mind.

The spear-wielding chimps were documented by anthropologist Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University, who also observed the Fongoli colony doing something else never documented before: holding a pool party. Chimps were long thought to be afraid of water, but as charming poolside footage reveals, these hairy bathers swing from the trees and take the plunge in high spirits.

In addition to Pruetz, "Ape Genius" features contributions by other noted researchers, including Brian Hare of Duke University, Andrew Whiten of the University of St. Andrews, Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University, Rebecca Saxe of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Josep Call and Michael Tomasello of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Bit by bit, these investigators are converging on an explanation for why the non-human great apes never made the breakthrough into an accelerating human-style culture that builds on the achievements of previous generations. After all, apes are stronger and more agile than we are. They have also shown previously unsuspected talents for reasoning, creative problem solving, and other intelligent traits. Some have even demonstrated rudimentary language abilities. And their emotional lives seem on a par with ours, as is evident in moving footage of a mother chimp dealing with the sickness and death of her child.

But something has held them back. What?

"Ape Genius" takes viewers to the African savannah and research labs in Texas, Germany, and Japan to explore a number of fascinating new experiments that shed light on just what apes are thinking.

Through careful design, such tests spotlight different features of the ape mind, and striking variation between one species and another. For example, bonobos appear far more cooperative than chimps and will work together on a simple task that yields a box of food to split. Chimps are more selfish under such circumstances, but they appear to have a code of conduct and will seek revenge when they have been wronged intentionally.

One of the program's most startling experiments suggests that chimps can easily outsmart young children. In this test, toddlers follow a series of steps shown to them by an adult teacher to obtain a piece of candy. Some of the steps are clearly unnecessary and nonsensical, but the toddlers mindlessly follow every stage of the instructions. In contrast, chimps cut out the unnecessary steps and get the candy quickly. Yet the chimps' greater cunning can't disguise an important implication of the experiment: We humans have a built-in expectation that others are trying to teach us—an expectation that may have played a vital role in the unique growth of human intelligence.

Something as simple as a common gesture—pointing—marks another key difference between apes and humans. Apes don't seem to relate to the act of communication involved when a researcher points at an object. They can't understand it as a request to attend to the same object, and therefore they miss out on a crucial link in the learning process.

Ultimately, such gaps between humans and apes—the little differences that make the big difference—may explain why we study them and not the other way around.

Own this amazing documentary on DVD...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fidel - The Untold Story

It is not clear that the great leader of the Cuban Revolution - Fidel Castro - is still alive. One this is certain...his time of influence on the world stage has drawn to an end. Having been the subject of so much anti-Castro propoganda, many an still not aware of the true facts of this man's life. Fidel - the Untold Story is a documentary that dispells many of the myths associated with this iconic figure.

Whether dismissed as a relic or revered as a savior, many agree that Fidel Castro is one of the most influential and controversial figures of our time. Rarely are Americans given a chance to see inside the world of this socialist leader. The documentary Fidel offers a unique opportunity to view the man through exclusive interviews with Castro himself, historians, public figures and close friends, with rare footage from the Cuban State archives.

Alice Walker, Harry Belafonte, and Sydney Pollack discuss Fidel as a person, while former and current US government figures including Arthur Schlesinger, Ramsey Clark, Wayne Smith, Congressman Charles Rangel and a former CIA agent offer political and historical perspectives on Castro and the long-standing US embargo against Cuba. Family members and close friends, including Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, offer a window into his rarely seen personal life.

Bravo’s camera captures Fidel Castro swimming with bodyguards, visiting his childhood home and school, joking with Nelson Mandela, Ted Turner and Muhammad Ali, meeting Elian Gonzalez, and celebrating his birthday with members of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Juxtaposing the personal anecdotal with history of the Cuban revolution and the fight to survive the post-Soviet period, Fidel tells a previously untold story and presents a new view of this compelling figure.

Buy the DVD today...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lost Cities of the Inca

Step inside a lost Inca city, long hidden near the cloud forests of Peru. A National Geographic expedition uses aerial reconnaissance to find this mysterious ruin - where crumbling walls guard gigantic stone heads and ancient rock art.

Setting out in search of Vilcabamba, a hidden jungle city built in one of the more remote and inaccessible regions of the Inca Empire, Hiram Bingham stumbled upon one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the century—the magnificent ruins of Macchu Picchu which opened up the glories of the Inca civilization to the entire world.

Other Documentaries like this...

Inside Burma's Secret War

Tibet - Cry of the Snow Lion

China from the Inside

The Dark Lords of Hattusha

Own this documentary on DVD...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Magnetic Storm

Like the plot of a sci-fi B movie, something weird is happening deep underground where the constant spin of Earth's liquid metallic core generates an invisible magnetic force field that shields our planet from harmful radiation in space. Gradually, the field is growing weaker. Could we be heading for a demagnetized doomsday that will leave us defenseless against the lethal effects of solar wind and cosmic rays? "Magnetic Storm" looks into our potentially unsettling magnetic future.

Scientists studying the problem are looking everywhere from Mars, which suffered a magnetic crisis four billion years ago and has been devoid of a magnetic field, an appreciable atmosphere, and possibly life ever since, to a laboratory at the University of Maryland, where a team headed by physicist Dan Lathrop has re-created the molten iron dynamo at Earth's core by using 240 pounds of highly explosive molten sodium. The most visible signs of Earth's magnetic field are auroras, which are caused by charged particles from space interacting with the atmosphere as they flow into the north and south magnetic poles.

But the warning signs of a declining field are subtler—though they are evident in every clay dish that was ever fired. During high-temperature baking, iron minerals in clay record the exact state of Earth's magnetic field at that precise moment. By examining pots from prehistory to modern times, geologist John Shaw of the University of Liverpool in England has discovered just how dramatically the field has changed. "When we plot the results from the ceramics," he notes, "we see a rapid fall as we come toward the present day. The rate of change is higher over the last 300 years than it has been for any time in the past 5,000 years. It's going from a strong field down to a weak field, and it's doing so very quickly."

At the present rate, Earth's magnetic field could be gone within a few centuries, exposing the planet to the relentless blast of charged particles from space with unpredictable consequences for the atmosphere and life. Other possibilities: the field could stop weakening and begin to strengthen, or it could weaken to the point that it suddenly flips polarity—that is, compasses begin to point to the South Magnetic Pole.

An even older record of Earth's fluctuating field than Shaw refers to shows a more complicated picture. Ancient lava flows from the Hawaiian Islands reveal both the strength of the field when the lava cooled and its orientation—the direction of magnetic north and south. "When we go back about 700,000 years," says geologist Mike Fuller of the University of Hawaii, "we find an incredible phenomenon. Suddenly the rocks are magnetized backwards. Instead of them being magnetized to the north like today's field, they are magnetized to the south."

Such a reversal of polarity seems to happen every 250,000 years on average, making us long overdue for another swap between the north and south magnetic poles. Scientist Gary Glatzmaier of the University of California at Santa Cruz has actually observed such reversals, as they occur in computer simulations. These virtual events show striking similarities to the current behavior of Earth's magnetic field and suggest we are about to experience another reversal, though it will take centuries to unfold.

Some researchers believe we are already in the transition phase, with growing areas of magnetic anomaly—where field lines are moving the wrong way—signaling an ever weaker and chaotic state for our protective shield.

Geophysicist Rob Coe, also of the University of California at Santa Cruz, may have even found a lava record in Oregon that charts the magnetic mayhem that ensues during a period of reversal. The picture that emerges may not be up to Hollywood disaster standards, but considering that human civilization has never had to cope with such a situation before, it could be an interesting and challenging time.

Visit the official website here.

Buy this amazing documentary on DVD today...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Islamic History of Europe

In this 90-minute documentary, Rageh Omaar uncovers the hidden story of Europe's Islamic past and looks back to a golden age when European civilisation was enriched by Islamic learning.

Rageh travels across medieval Muslim Europe to reveal the vibrant civilisation that Muslims brought to the West. This evocative film brings to life a time when emirs and caliphs dominated Spain and Sicily and Islamic scholarship swept into the major cities of Europe.

His journey reveals the debt owed to Islam for its vital contribution to the European Renaissance.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Journey of Man - A Genetic Odyssey

By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, geneticist Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a single man who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago.

Modern humans, he contends, didn't start their spread across the globe until after that time. Most archaeologists would say the exodus began 100,000 years ago—a 40,000-year discrepancy. Wells's take on the origins of modern humans and how they came to populate the rest of the planet is bound to be controversial.

His work adds to an already crowded field of opposing hypotheses proposed by those who seek answers in "stones and bones"—archaeologists and paleoanthropologists—and those who seek them in our blood—population geneticists and molecular biologists.

Over the last decade, major debate on whether early humans evolved in Africa or elsewhere, when they began outward migration, where they went, and whether they interbred with or replaced archaic species has moved out of scientific journals and into the public consciousness.

In this documentary, Wells addresses these issues. In a straightforward story, he explains how he traced the exodus of modern humans from Africa by analyzing genetic changes in DNA from the y-chromosome.


  1. Click on the play icon on screen...a pop-up will open for poker or dating...close this and get rid of it.
  2. Click on the play button at the bottom of the player and film will start to play.
  3. ...enjoy!!!

"As often happens in science," he said, "technology has opened up a field to new ways of answering old questions—often providing startling answers."

Of course, not everyone agrees with him...what do you think?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Einstein's Unfinished Symphony

As Albert Einstein lay on his deathbed, he asked only for his glasses, his writing implements and his latest equations. He knew he was dying, yet he continued his work. In those final hours of his life, while fading in and out of consciousness, he was working on what he hoped would be his greatest work of all. It was a project of monumental complexity. It was a project that he hoped would unlock the mind of God.

"I want to know God's thoughts"

"I am not interested in this phenomenon or that phenomenon," Einstein had said earlier in his life. "I want to know God's thoughts – the rest are mere details." But as he lay there dying in Princeton Hospital he must have understood that these were secrets that God was clearly keen to hang on to. The greatest scientist of his age died knowing that he had become isolated from the scientific community; revered on the one hand, ridiculed for this quest on the other.

It was a journey that started 50 years earlier in Berne, Switzerland. Then - in his early 20s - he was a young man struggling to make his mark. His applications to universities throughout Europe had all been rejected. In the end his father had pulled strings to get him a job as a third class clerk evaluating the latest electrical gizmos.

But in his spare time he was formulating the most extraordinary scientific ideas. In a single year - 1905, a year that would become known as his miracle year – he published papers that would redefine how we see our world and universe.

Time is relative
He confirmed that all matter was composed of molecules – an idea that at the time was controversial. And most famously of all, he published the paper 'On the electrodynamics of moving bodies'. It contained his Theory of Special Relativity and suggested that time - something that had always thought to be unchanging and absolute – was relative. It could speed up or slow down depending on the speed you were travelling. From this paper would come an additional three pages, finished in September of the same year, that would contain the derivation of e=mc², the most famous mathematical equation ever written.

Einstein was on a roll. Ten years after his Theory of Special Relativity, he published his Theory of General Relativity – a piece of work widely acknowledged as his masterpiece. The great 17th century scientist Sir Isaac Newton had described the force of gravity very successfully, but what caused gravity remained a mystery. In this Theory of General Relativity, Einstein suggested that gravity was due to the bending of time and space by massive objects. In 1919 astronomers confirmed this by measuring the bending of starlight around the sun during a solar eclipse.

The battle with quantum mechanics
In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize, not for his theories of relativity, but for another paper published in 1905. In this paper, Einstein proposed that light was not simply made up of waves, it could also be thought of as discrete, individual particles or quanta. This discovery would revolutionise physics and chemistry, because it would become one of the foundations of a new science: quantum mechanics.

But during the 1920s the new science of quantum mechanics began to turn the tide against the way Einstein saw the world. Young pretenders in the field of physics had begun to emerge, such as Heisenberg, Bohr and Schrödinger, who are now some of the most famous figures in science. But at the time they were mavericks. They saw quantum mechanics as a brand new way of interpreting everything.

A core element to their new interpretation of the world was that at a fundamental level, everything was unpredictable. You could, for example, accurately tell the speed of a particle but not – at the same time – its position. Or its position but not its speed. It meant that precise predictions were impossible – the best you could hope for was a science based on probabilities.

God does not play dice
Einstein's work was underpinned by the idea that the laws of physics were an expression of the divine. This belief led him to think that everything could be described by simple, elegant mathematics and moreover, that once you knew these laws you could describe the universe with absolute accuracy. Einstein loathed the implications of quantum mechanics. It was a clash of ideologies.

The conflict reached a crescendo in the late 1920s at the Solvay Conference in Belgium. There Einstein clashed with the great Danish physicist Niels Bohr over the nature of the universe. Einstein constantly challenged Bohr over the implications of quantum mechanics, but never budged from his belief that "God does not play dice", meaning that nothing would be left to chance in the universe. To which the quantum mechanics community replied: "Einstein, stop telling God what to do with his dice."

The theory of everything
But Einstein had a trick up his sleeve. He had already begun a piece of work that he believed would ultimately replace quantum mechanics. It would become later known as his theory of everything – it was his attempt to extend general relativity and unite the known forces in the universe.

By completing this theory of everything Einstein hoped he would rid physics of the unpredictability at the heart of quantum mechanics and show that the world was predictable – described by beautiful, elegant mathematics. Just the way he believed God would make the universe. He would show that the way the quantum mechanics community interpreted the world was just plain wrong. It was a project that he would work on for the next 30 years, until the final day of his life.

But while Einstein's theory of everything may be considered to have been a failure, it is an idea that still fascinates and draws some of the brightest minds in physics. Today many believe that String Theory is our best candidate for a theory of everything. But the ultimate irony is that lurking at the heart of String Theory is the very thing that, because of his beliefs, Einstein had been unable to accept: quantum mechanics.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why Am I Me?

Professor Susan Greenfield tackles the big idea of human consciousness and asks the important question - why am I me? In this documentary, Greenfield takes a look at how the human brain generates consciousness and just what consciousness is.

Putting a scientific finger on what human consciousness is not at all an easy task as Greenfield points out in her own words...

"I think the problem has been why mainstream science is very wary of the study of consciousness is that it is utterly subjective. It is the first person world, as it seems to you. Now science is all about impartial access, third person, clear measurements and here we have something that’s insubstantial and ineffable, some kind of magic and no wonder that is not very practical to scientific method and therefore most scientist would rather be preoccupied with some smaller problem. But as the philosopher John Saul said that’s a bit like saying you’re studying stomach but you’re not interested in digestion."

Not many people are aware of the fact that Susan Greenfield as a sitting member of of the British House of Lords is also know as Baroness Greenfield! Take this interesting journey of discovery and maybe you'll find out what it means to be you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Born Rich

First-time filmmaker Jamie Johnson, a 23-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune, captures the rituals, worries and social customs of the young Trumps, Vanderbilts, Newhouses and Bloombergs in the documentary special, BORN RICH, a 2003 Sundance Film Festival selection. Offering candid insights into the privileges and burdens of inheriting more money than most people will earn in a lifetime.

Narrated by Johnson, a history student at New York University, and filmed over a three-year period, BORN RICH spotlights ten young adults who came into the world knowing they would never have to work a day in their lives. These society-column names speak frankly about the one subject they all know is taboo: money.

With his unfettered access to this rarified subculture, Johnson explores topics such as the anxieties of being "cut off," and the misconception that money can solve all problems. "Most wealthy people are told from a very young age not to talk about money," notes Johnson. "Consequently, they are extremely reluctant to speak to people about their backgrounds. Also, many of the subjects in my film already have more public recognition than they may want, and have very little to gain by receiving more." Among the peers Johnson interviews are: Josiah Hornblower, heir to the Vanderbilt and Whitney fortunes; S.I. Newhouse IV, of the Conde Nast Newhouses; Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump; and Georgianna Bloomberg, daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The story begins with the advent of the filmmaker's 21st birthday, and his mingled anticipation and fear of receiving his portion of the family inheritance. Unsure about the future direction of his own life, Johnson decides to document the experiences of his privileged peers in dealing with their family's legacies. He explores their candid perspectives on subjects ranging from life philosophies and trust funds to prenuptial agreements and career choices, ultimately revealing their common struggle to discover their own identity.

Buy the high-definition DVD today...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Guns, Germs and Steel

Based on Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, Guns, Germs and Steel traces humanity's journey over the last 13,000 years – from the dawn of farming at the end of the last Ice Age to the realities of life in the twenty-first century.

Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality.

  • Why were Europeans the ones to conquer so much of our planet?
  • Why didn't the Chinese, or the Inca, become masters of the globe instead?
  • Why did cities first evolve in the Middle East?
  • Why did farming never emerge in Australia?
  • And why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty?

  • As he peeled back the layers of history to uncover fundamental, environmental factors shaping the destiny of humanity, Diamond found both his theories and his own endurance tested.

    The three one-hour programs were filmed across four continents on High Definition digital video, and combinied ambitious dramatic reconstruction with moving documentary footage and computer animation. They also include contributions from Diamond himself and a wealth of international historians, archeologists and scientists.

    Guns, Germs, and Steel is a thrilling ride through the elemental forces which have shaped our world – and which continue to shape our future.

    PART ONE - Out of Eden

    PART TWO - Conquest

    PART THREE - Tropics

    Visit the official website here.

    More documentaries like this...

    The Kogi - From the Heart of the World

    Tibet - Cry of the Snow Lion

    Clash of the Worlds

    The Crusades - the Cresent & the Cross

    Own this documentary on DVD...

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    The Vanished City of the Pharaoh

    It was one of the greatest disappearing acts in history.

    This documentary looks at how Piramesses, the magnificent capital of pharaoh Ramesses II, also known as Ramses the Great, disappeared from the Egyptian landscape for centuries, only talked about in folklore as the most magnificent of all of Ancient's Egypt's cities. Believed to be located on the Nile and noted for its trade connection as a result of its proximity to the river, historical records attested to its vibrance and wealth, especially symbolised by the magnificent main temple.

    The dramatic discovery of this city occurred in the nineteenth century, upon scientists realising that the course of the Nile had been dramatically altered since ancient times, thus leaving the city stranded in the desert. The archaeological ruins of Piramesses (called Qantir after the modern town nearby) were found during this century by Mahmoud Hamza, who gathered a team of experts to aid in its excavation. What was quickly revealed was a site covering an area of nearly 30 square kilometers. Within this area, remains of temples, houses, horse stables, to name but a few, were uncovered.

    In this episode of Lost Cities of the Ancients, this magical landscape is bought back to life, using footage to reveal what has been found and what myth would suggest has yet to be discovered.

    More documentaries like this...

    The Lost Pyramids of Caral

    The Dark Lords of Hattusha

    The Crusades - the Cresent & the Cross

    Inside Mecca

    The Cosmos - A Beginner's Guide

    In this six part documentary Adam Hart-Davis, Janet Sumner and Maggie Aderin visit the spectacular places where the exploration of the universe is being pushed to new limits. They include the world’s biggest experiment, the Californian observatory at the centre of the search for ET, and the biggest telescope in the world, high in Chile’s Atacama desert, seeing the most distant things in the universe.

    The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide asks big questions about the universe: How was it made? Are we alone? What’s the furthest thing we can see? Is there another earth somewhere? Where is the most exciting place to explore? In each programme, we take on one huge idea, and head for the place most likely to provide an answer.

    To find out how far we can see, we visit the Very Large Telescope, high in Chile’s Atacama Desert. It is a barren and spectacular location, but the very best place in the world to see the universe.

    To answer the question: Are we alone? Adam drove into the wilds of Northern California, to the Allen Telescope Array, the new nerve centre of the hunt for extra terrestrial intelligence. If humans are going to hear from ET, our first 24 hour a day, 7 day a week alien hunting machine is where the message is likely to arrive.

    How do you build a universe? Join the 7,000 scientists trying to do just that, ramming tiny particles together at nearly the speed of light. Buried 100 metres under Geneva, this machine aims to create conditions not seen since the Big Bang, releasing particles that were present at the very start of the universe.

    Does our planet have a twin - is there another Earth? The search for other worlds takes Adam to the peak of La Palma in the Canary Islands, to meet the team finding distant planets beyond the solar system. For now they can only find giant planets bigger than Jupiter – but how long will it be before they find another one like ours?

    A trip to Leicester attempts to find out just how dangerous is the universe. There, an amazing new spacecraft will home in on the biggest bangs since the Big Bang, but also finds signs of violence much closer to home on the sun and the moon.

    The final question, as ever, is what next? The programme is based at Europe’s space exploration HQ near Amsterdam, and investigates how astronauts will get to Mars – and how they’d survive once they got there – as well as finding out about Voyager, the first bit of man-made hardware to leave the Solar System, and new ways of getting into space without a rocket.

    PART ONE - Life In the Cosmos

    PART TWO - Building the Universe

    PART THREE - Seeing the Universe

    PART FOUR - Space Exploration

    PART FIVE - Violent Universe

    PART SIX - Other worlds

    Other documentaries like this...

    Newton - The Dark Heretic

    Alien Planet

    Space Tourists

    BBC Space - with Sam Neil

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Monster of the Milky Way

    "Space, itself, is falling inside the black hole. It's rather like a river falling over a waterfall. It's like that, except it's space, itself, that's falling over the cliff. There's a place where the space starts moving faster than light, so, the light is just trying to get out. It's rather like a kayaker, trying to make their way upstream, on a river that's going too fast. They get dragged down to the center of the black hole." - Andrew Hamilton

    Astronomers are closing in on the proof they've sought for years that one of the most destructive objects in the universe—a supermassive black hole—lurks at the center of our own galaxy. Could it flare up and consume our entire galactic neighborhood?

    NOVA takes us on a mind-bending investigation into one of the most bizarre corners of cosmological science: black hole research. From event horizon to singularity, the elusive secrets of supermassive black holes are revealed through stunning computer-generated imagery, including an extraordinary simulation of what it might look like to fall into the belly of such an all-devouring beast.

    Click here for the official website.

    Other documentaries like this...

    What We Still Don't Know

    The Elegant Universe

    BBC Space - with Sam Neil

    Titan: A Place Like Home?

    What on Earth is Wrong With Gravity?

    Buy this documentary on DVD now...

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Why Are We Here - Richard Dawkins

    In this short documentary, Dawkins takes a look at the purpose of human existance and asks the earthshaking question - Why are we here?

    Pointing out that religious stories of human purpose fail miserably, Dawkins indicates that science may be able to offer a better explaination for human existance. Starting out with Darwin, he claims that Darwin's theory of evolution may offer the only explaination for humanity's raison d'état that we are likely to ever get.

    Many religious believers may claim that answers for our existance offered by evolution theory mean that humans are nothing special, that we are just another species of animal. They are, of course, correct in saying that we are just another animal species but this does not necessarily mean that are not special.

    Clearly humans are different from our animal brothers in that we have the ability to ask questions like why are we here. This also means, however, that with our 'specialness' comes extraordinary responsibilities. This brilliant documentary helps clarify some of the arguments made by evolution and is in no way just more of the same from Dawkins.

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    Google - Behind the Screen

    Produced with the assistance of SBS, this smart, stylish Dutch documentary examines the mother of all search engines.

    First, company employees explain that Google doesn't produce information, it merely filters websites according to popularity. That's why, say, if you search for "September 11", the first "hit" might be the site of a conspiracy theorist, simply because that site is the buzz of the internet. In a workplace with masseurs and volleyball courts, where employees are encouraged to spend one day of their working week doing something they love, Google strives for neutrality.

    Even so, concerns are surfacing. Google is huge, with offshoots including Google Earth (which zooms into any location via archived satellite images) and Machine Translation (aiming to provide accurate translations of documents). Will this enormous store of information infringe on people's privacy? Will governments abuse it? What about terrorists?

    To these worthwhile questions, Google employees struggle to give convincing answers. Their stuttered responses suggest the bosses need to spend more time addressing the ethics of their work. Google's quasi-motto, "Don't be evil", is all well and good, but it's worth remembering that one man's evil is another man's virtue.

    The best point is made by Vint Cerf, the man dubbed the father of the internet and a vice-president at Google since 2004. He agrees that information can be manipulated, noting that the makers of this program will be able to manipulate their interviews in the editing suite. One smart cookie.