Sunday, April 27, 2008

Triumph of the Nerds

Cringley relates to us how he was one of the early employees of Apple Computers in the days in which it operated out of a garage. Now a self-proclaimed gossip columnist for the computer world Mr. Cringley guides us through the important steps and missteps that made personal computing the industry it is today.
Interviewed are computer giants such as Bill Gates, Steven Jobs and Larry Ellison just to name a few. They along with others relate their stories and the excitement they shared as they built from scratch the phenomenon, which is now the personal computer. Their presence not only adds to the credibility of the story but also cements Mr. Cringley’s thesis argument that the computer industry was created because of “a group of nerds trying to impress their friends”.

Volume 1 - Impressing Their Friends

Volume 2 - Riding the Bear

Volume 3 - The Artists Steal

Timewatch 2004 The Lost Liner And The Empires Gold

“This is the most exciting wreck we have gone for. You can?t beat the old steamers and their sense of history and this one has a good cargo which adds romanticism to it, mirroring the Titanic storyline”
Moya Crawford

The liner Persia left London on 18th December 1915, and was about 70 miles off the coast of Crete at 1.10pm on the 30th of that month when it was torpedoed without warning by U-38. The target was struck on the port bow and 5 minutes later the boiler blew up and the ship was lost. Of 501 persons aboard there were only 167 survivors, most of whom were picked up by a trawler around 30 hours after the attack.
Pass: calek

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ancient Voices

Ancient Voices is a unique look back in time at some of history’s most enduring mysteries, artifacts and the fascinating cultures that spawned them. It re-creates the inner world of the Egyptians, Britons, the first Americans and the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. From Stonehenge in Britain to Amarna in Egypt to a lost metropolis in the American Midwest. Now, renowned experts and breakthrough techniques reveal history’s most sought-after secrets. See lost worlds brought to life again through state-of-the-art virtual reality reconstructions, stunning location filming and evocative reenactments. And get closer than ever before to the extraordinary human minds behind the myths, mysteries and monuments. Narrated by Mark Hamill.

1 - Tracking The First Americans - Dated from a distant epoch 12,000 years ago, the skull of a human female, dubbed “Luzia,” is discovered in Brazil. But Luzia and other similar remains uncovered belong to none of the races known to have set foot in the Americas at that time. Who, then, was Luzia? What astonishing journey might she and her kind undertaken to forge one of the hemisphere’s first human 40footholds?

2 - Egypt’s Lost City - A century ago, the remote desert wastelands of the Amarna plain began to yield tantalizing clues to an extraordinary and enigmatic chapter in Egyptian history. Temples destroyed or defaced, a radical pharaoh and his dream city violently and deliberately forgotten. But why? Now, unlock the mystery behind this once-mighty vanished city and the revolutionary ruler, Akhenaten, and his legendary wife, Nefertiti, that ruled there. And discover why Egyptian pharaohs, including Akhenaten’s own son, Tutankhamun, would go to such lengths to erase all evidence of this amazing desert experiment.

3 - Cahokia: America’s Lost City - The once-mighty city of Cahokia now lies beneath the superhighways and sprawling neighborhoods of modern St. Louis. Larger than medieval London during its heydey a thousand years ago, with huge construction projects, remarkable engineering, enormous ceremonial mounds and miles of “suburbs,” stunningly sophisticated works of art…and startling rites of sacrificial barbarism, Cahokia was an astonishing achievement of civilization in any time.

4 - Seeking Noah’s Flood - According to both the Bible and the Koran, a mighty flood once submerged the ancient world beneath a planet-wide deluge of mythic proportions. But what if the myth flows from reality? Now, renowned experts and their breakthrough discoveries offer a glimpse of the scientific truth behind the story of Noah’s Flood.

5 - In Pursuit Of The Holy Grail - It’s the most precious object in Christendom. Charged with divine power. Visible only to the pure of mind and body. Rumored at times to be a platter, a stone or most recently, a chalice, it’s said to have held the blood of the dying Christ. And since medieval times, the Holy Grail has held a powerful fascination for those in pursuit of it-from rank charlatans to religious visionaries. Investigate tantalizing evidence of the Grail’s survival into modern times, and see how eerily similar Grail stories persisting across cultures continue to inspire the search for the mystic power-source of this most sacred of vessels.

6 - Traders Of The Dead Sea Scrolls - Archaeologists, smugglers, scholars, nomads - all are locked in a race to track down fragments of one of history’s most controversial discoveries - the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1947, a young Bedouin shepherd stumbled upon cryptic writings that had lain hidden for nearly 2,000 years. As eager scholars deciphered the documents, an astonishing truth came to light. The Scrolls could hold the key to both Judaism and the very birth of Christianity. But only a few have ever been found. Join the quest to find and save the remaining Scrolls. Meet the resourceful traders and tribe’s people who may be the best hope for locating the priceless relics…or the greatest threat to their survival. Witness a high-tech reconstruction of a “lost” scroll.

7 - The Secret Of Stonehenge - On a windswept English plain, the colossal ediface of Stonehenge looms as one of the ancient world’s most remarkable structures - and one of history’s most inscrutable riddles. Who were the Ice Age barbarians that laid out the site’s first wooden posts more than 10,000 years ago? What “primitive” technology could have created the henge’s increasingly massive stone structures? And most baffling of all, why was Stonehenge built at all?

8 - Riddle Of Nubia’s Tombs - Concealed for millennia beneath the burial mounds of a once-mighty but misunderstood African empire, the skeletons of hundreds of royal servants line the interior of their king’s grave. But was this a voluntary mass suicide-or mass murder? Once Egypt’s rival in power and glory, the Nubian Empire remained shrouded in mystery until the 1920s. Even so, archaeologists and explorers have only recently begun to credit such sophistication and splendor to its black populace. But why did such a civilized culture resort to such a violent and bizarre way of burying their dead? And what are its surprising links to modern-day suicides cults like Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate?

9 - The Mystery Of The Taj Mahal - As intricate as it is enormous, the Taj Mahal is renowned as the most spectacular building on earth. Built more than 300 years ago by the mighty Emperor Shah Jahan to memorize his beloved Queen, it has stood for centuries as the ultimate monument to love. But new evidence now reveals a different side of the Taj Mahal - and the extraordinary and contradictory person who created it.

10 - Aztecs: Inside The Hidden Empire - Beneath the sprawl of modern-day Mexico City lie the once-glorious remains of the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan. From this teeming 15th-century hub, the Aztecs ruled a realm of fabulous architecture, advanced science and intricate artwork. But they are best known for their reliance on human sacrifice and violent conquest to control their world. Why, then, did a civilization capable of such beauty and accomplishment harbor such violence at its very heart? Join leading researchers on a journey from the magnificent past of North America’s greatest empire to its poignant remnants today.***Note - this is a re-edit of Blood And Flowers - In Search Of The Aztecs released by jvt40

11 - The Search For El Dorado - The New World at the dawn of the 16th century, where one tale fired the imagination of the newly arrived conquistadors like no other. The story of a kingdom of solid gold: El Dorado. Now trek into modern-day Colombia in the fevered footsteps of seekers from the earliest Spaniards to the treasure hunters of this century.


Pass: calek

BBC - How to Build a Human

The twenty-first century will be shaped by a revolution in biology that will enable us to read the genetic code of life as easily as we would read a book. We have gained the power to control the destiny of our species and the ability to manipulate and build humans at will. This fascinating new series will take us on an incredible journey into the future of being, and give a glimpse of things to come in the new age.

1 : Creation

The ability to genitically engineer human beings will change the human race forever. The secrets of DNA, the genetic code for life, are now being unravelled. Scientists are learning to manipulate it to create new parts of the human body and even new human beings. This film has access to the creation of the first cloned human embryo, and the people behind it. It also gives us an insight into a future where we will be able to bump into a younger version of ourselves in the street; replace any damaged organ with a new one containing 99% of our own DNA; and nurture our offspring in artificial wombs.


2 : Predictor

Increasingly, we are finding that the unique characteristics that make each one of us as an individual, from our basic physical attributes to the complexities of our personality, can be traced back to the subtle mix of genes we receive at the moment of conception. But how much do these genes actually predict our destiny? And how much can that destiny be changed throughout our lives? The genetic age has opened up a realm of possibilities. Will we be able to read our own lives before we live them, predict our deaths and rewrite the story that is written in our genes?


3 : The secret of sex

Before science put it under microscope, sex was a simple, uncomplicated thing. You could not build humans without it. All you needed was a man, a woman, a liberal sprinkling of lust and Mother Nature did the rest. But is that now a terribly old-fasioned way of making new human? In the future we’ll able to build humans in tanks, make copies of ourselves in labs and even have the power to change the course of our genetic destiny by turning women into men. If kissing is nothing more than a way of sniffing out compatible genes, what is the point of sex, and will it ever be the same again?


4 : Forever young

Imagine yourself …150 years old, pregnant and still going strong. Is this scenario the stuff of science fiction? Scientists predict that in fifty years time every organ in the body, except the brain, will be replaceable. Even the heart can be renovated. The future won’t just be a healthier short life. The search for eternal life is now being taken seriously. A number of tantalizing and remarkable discoveries indicating how to stop the human body ageing are about to turn science fiction into reality. The key lies inside every cell in our body. Scientists now believe they will be able to extend the human life span to 150 years. Is this the first step of immortality?


Lost Cities Of The Ancients

A journey to discover the legendary lost city of Piramesse. This magnificent ancient capital was built 3000 years ago by the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses the Great, but long ago the whole city disappeared. When it was finally rediscovered by early archaeologists, it opened up a bizarre puzzle - because when Piramesse was finally found, it was in the wrong place - somewhere Ramesses the great could not possibly have built it. Recreating the stories of both the early archaeologists and the ancient Egyptians, this film enters a lost world, recounting the strange tale of the quest for Piramesse, and following the intriguing detective work of modern archaeologists Manfred Bietak and Edgar Pusch as they solve the baffling mystery of how this great lost city could vanish, only to reappear thousands of years later - in the wrong place.



Friday, April 25, 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?
Diamond answers also one question I´ve wondered , why Incas´fell with european diseases and not the other way around?

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 1: Out Of Eden

Part 2: Conquest

PART 3 : Into The Tropics

Outlaw Bikers: Hells Angels

The leather jacketed, long-haired biker on the road is a modern American icon. Separate myth from reality in this series on America's biker clans, learning where they have come from, how they operate and just what they have done. Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) agents, Jay Dobyns and Billy Wueen, infiltrate America's notorious biker clan the Hells Angels in this episode, with incredible access never before granted to a television film crew.

Outlaw Bikers: Mongols

The leather jacketed, long-haired biker on the road is a modern American icon. Separate myth from reality in this series on America’s biker clans, learning where they have come from, how they operate and just what they have done. Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) agents, Jay Dobyns and Billy Wueen, infiltrate America’s notorious biker clan the Mongols in this episode, with incredible access never before granted to a television film crew.


Journey Into Buddhism: Yatra Trilogy

Yatra is the Sanskrit word for pilgrimage or spiritual journey. These visually stunning documentaries are cinematic pilgrimages to legendary places in Southeast Asia and Tibet, including the spiritual wonders of Laos, Thailand, Burma, Bali, Cambodia, Java, and Central Tibet. Journey into the living traditions and lost civilizations of this vibrant part of the world and explore the universal ideals of wisdom, compassion, and inner peace at the very heart of these ancient Buddhist cultures.

The living presence of place is the primary focus of these three lyrical films which are meditations themselves. Their deliberate pacing, unobtrusive narration, indigenous music, and harmonic chants are designed to induce an inner journey while traveling to these legendary places. Viewers are invited to relax and let the experience wash over them, making the trilogy part of their own journey.

"Yatra Trilogy offers up the mesmerizing beauty and ineffable power of places most of us will never see."

John Bush is a filmmaker and photographer who has lived and traveled in Asia for more than three decades, sharing its sacred sites, culture and images in his work. His films and images are in museums and private collections around the world.

Dharma River

As the first documentary in the Yatra Trilogy, Dharma River is a timeless journey through legendary rivers to the greatest Buddhist temples and mystical sites of Laos, Thailand, and Burma. It offers a direct experience of lost civilizations, sacred spaces, and ancient traditions.

The Buddha image reverberates continually through Dharma River and in dozens of temples, caves, and shrines, yet it is never the same. The film’s narration explores the different cultural representations of this universal icon of inner peace and its contemporary relevance.

Journey into the living traditions and lost civilizations of this vibrant part of the world and explore the universal ideals of wisdom, compassion, and inner peace at the very heart of these ancient Buddhist cultures.

530 MB, 81 min, English

Prajna Earth

Prajna is the Sanskrit word for radiant wisdom, and yatra is the word for pilgrimage or spiritual journey. This visually stunning second documentary is a cinematic pilgrimage exploring the lost civilization of Angkor in Cambodia, including the largest temple in the world – the magnificent Angkor Wat. The journey continues to sacred sites of the natural world, traveling through Hindu Bali, witnessing trance dancers in the jungles of Java, and discovering the gigantic seven level mandala wonder of Buddhist Borobudur.

Prajna Earth visits spiritual intersections where Buddhist and Hindu wisdom traditions merged with the animist worship of nature, revealing a profound understanding of sacred nature existing both in the environment and within all living beings.

555 MB, 83 min, English

Vajra Sky

Vajra is the Sanskrit word signifying the thunderbolt of illumination, and yatra is the word for pilgrimage or spiritual journey. This enthralling third documentary offers a cinematic pilgrimage to central Tibet, bearing witness to the indomitable faith of its endangered Buddhist community and the imminent threat to its very survival.

Traveling through breathtaking Himalayan terrain, Vajra Sky Over Tibet visits extraordinary temples, monasteries, and festivals. The enduring power of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism resonates in all of its sacred shrines and echoes within the bustling Jokhang Temple and the empty Potala Palace, home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

575 MB, 88 min, English

Note: Download links work like other free download services. Type in the numbers in the image which appears on the page into the box. Click on the green button at the bottom. This starts a very brief countdown of 10 seconds. Then you get the download popup window to download the entire file.

These are a beautiful set of documentaries.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Life of Mammals

David Attenborough and the BBC have a well-earned reputation for producing some of the greatest nature programmes, but The Life of Mammals could well be Attenborough’s magnum opus. Much of the footage shot for this series had never been seen before, and is presented with the respect and reverence for the natural world that Attenborough has made his trademark. It never ceases to surprise: the sight of a lion taking down a wildebeest on the African savannah has almost become a clich of nature programmes, yet in The Life of Mammals the cameras keep rolling and the viewer witnesses the fallen animal’s herd coming to its rescue and driving off the lion. It’s a moving sight and just one of many remarkable scenes.

A thorough and entertaining overview of one of evolution’s greatest success stories, the series is loosely structured to follow the development of mammals, beginning with the basics in “A Winning Design”, which clarifies what makes a mammal different from reptiles and birds–no, it isn’t egg-laying: both the platypus and the echidna are egg-laying mammals; it’s their ability to adapt. And it’s this adaptability that becomes the crux of the remainder of the series. “Insect Hunters” focuses on mammals who have specifically adapted to eating insects, from the giant anteater and the armoured armadillo to bats, which have evolved into complex and effective hunters. “Plant Predators” demonstrates the particular (and often peculiar) adaptations of herbivores, while “Chisellers” is about those mammals who feed primarily on roots and seeds, ranging from tree-dwelling squirrels to opportunistic mice and rats. “Meat Eaters” talks about the evolutionary arms race that exists between predators and prey, and the unique adaptations of both individual and pack hunters. Omnivores are explored in “Opportunists”–mammals like bears and raccoons, whose varied diet allows them to occupy nearly any environment. “Return to the Water” discusses those mammals such as whales, seals and dolphins that have left behind life on dry land and adapted completely to life in the sea, existing at the top of the food chain. The last three episodes–”Life in the Trees”, “Social Climbers” and “Food for Thought”–take the viewer through the development of primates, eventually culminating in that most successful mammal: man

PBS: The Power of Myth

he Power of Myth is a book and six part television documentary first broadcast on PBS in 1988 as Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. The documentary comprises six one-hour conversations between mythologist Joseph Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers.

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth has six episodes:

Episode 1: The Hero’s Adventure (first broadcast 6/21/1988 on PBS)

About Campbell, hero types, hero deeds, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, movie heroes, Star Wars as a metaphor, an Iroquois story: the refusal of suitors, dragons, dreams and Jungian psychology, “follow your bliss,” consciousness in plants, Gaia, Chartres cathedral, spirituality vs. economics, emerging myths, “Earthrise” as a symbol


Episode 2: The Message of the Myth (first broadcast 6/22/1988 on PBS)

Creation myths, transcending duality, pairs of opposites, God vs. Nature, sin, morality, participation in sorrow, the Gospel of Thomas, Old Time Religion, computers, religion as “software,” the story of Indra: “What a great boy am I!,” participation in society


Episode 3: The First Storytellers (first broadcast 6/23/1988 on PBS)

Animal memories, harmonization with body and life-cycle, consciousness vs. its vehicle, killing for food, story: “The Buffalo’s Wife,” buffalo massacre, initiation ritual, rituals diminishing, crime increasing, artists, the Shaman, the center of the world.


Episode 4: Sacrifice and Bliss (first broadcast 6/24/1988 on PBS)

Chief Seattle, the sacred Earth, agricultural renewal, human sacrifice, sacrifice of the Mass, transcendence of death, story: “The Green Knight,” societal dictates vs. following bliss, “hidden hands” guiding life’s work


Episode 5: Love and the Goddess (first broadcast 6/25/1988 on PBS)

The Troubadours, Eros, romantic love, Tristan, libido vs. credo, separation from love, Satan, loving your enemy, the Crucifixion as atonement, the Goddess, the Earth-mother, virgin birth, the story of Isis, Osiris and Horus, the Madonna, the Big Bang.


Episode 6: Masks of Eternity (first broadcast 6/26/1988 on PBS)

Identifying with the infinite, the circle as a symbol, clowns and masks, epiphanies and James Joyce, artistic arrest, the monstrous as sublime, the dance of Shiva, that which is beyond words.


BBC - Echo of the Elephants

Echo is the gentle matriarch of a family of elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. Watched over by distinguished research scientist and founder of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, Cynthia Moss, Echo leads her charge through the rough and the smooth, good times and bad, all captured faithfully on film by award-winning photographer Martyn Colbeck.

In January 1990, Cynthia and Martyn embarked on the first of what would ultimately be four exceptional films produced over thirteen years in the shadow of the Great White Mountain, Kilimanjaro, documenting the lives of one elephant family for the BBC’s Natural History Unit. These uniquely moving and unforgettable films have wider implications for our understanding of elephants everywhere.

Episode Listing

* Echo of the Elephants (1992)
* Echo of the Elephants: The Next Generation (1995)
* Echo, Ely and Friends: Africa’s Forgotten Elephants (1997)
* Echo of the Elephants: The Final Chapter? (2005)


pass: calek

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BBC - Dangerous Knowledge (2007)

In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians - Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt G?del and Alan Turing - whose genius has profoundly affected us, but which tragically drove them insane and eventually led to them all committing suicide.

The film also talks to the latest in the line of thinkers who have continued to pursue the question of whether there are things that mathematics and the human mind cannot know. They include Greg Chaitin, mathematician at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, New York, and Roger Penrose.

Dangerous Knowledge tackles some of the profound questions about the true nature of reality that mathematical thinkers are still trying to answer today.

Part 1: God’s messenger
The film begins with Georg Cantor, the great mathematician whose work proved to be the foundation for much of the 20th-century mathematics. He believed he was God’s messenger and was eventually driven insane trying to prove his theories of infinity.

Ludwig Boltzmann’s struggle to prove the existence of atoms and probability eventually drove him to suicide.

Part 2: The Enigma
Kurt Gödel, the introverted confidant of Einstein, proved that there would always be problems which were outside human logic. His life ended in a sanatorium where he starved himself to death.

Finally, Alan Turing, the great Bletchley Park code breaker, father of computer science and homosexual, died trying to prove that some things are fundamentally unprovable.

BBC Wild Down Under

Isolated from the rest of the world for a staggering 45 million years, Australasia is like no other continent on Earth. With a breathtaking array of distinctive species and dramatic landscapes, from the vast, arid interior of Australia to the colourful coastal creatures of the barrier reef, Wild Down Under is a dazzling look at this truly unique place.


Episode 1: Wild Down Under

Episode 2: Desert Heart

Episode 3: Southern Seas

Episode 4: Gum Tree Country

Episode 5: Island Arks

Episode 6: New Worlds

BBC David Attenborough’s The Living Planet

Originally broadcast in 1984 The Living Planet followed five years after David Attenborough’s first wildlife blockbuster series, life on Earth. This was an equally ambitious 12-part documentary that spanned the globe with portraits of each of the major geographical regions that offer a home to life. Attenborough demonstrates how even in the most hostile of environments, from the volcanic “Furnaces of the Earth” to “The Frozen World” of mountains and tundra, the Arctic and Antarctic, live maintains a foothold. He takes us to “The Northern Forests”, the “Jungle”, “Seas of Grass” and “The Baking Deserts” and ever the genial host, details how in all its endless diversity, life is ingeniously suited to its surroundings.
With breathtaking imagery we meet our fellow inhabitants, from penguins to polar bears, lions to scorpions, oaks to eagles, and journey on to “The Open Ocean” and the “New Worlds”, which mankind itself is rapidly fashioning through ever more radical technological change. The series ends with an impassioned environmental plea which rings even more urgent now than in 1984.

“Our planet, the Earth, is, as far as we know, unique in the universe. It contains life. Even in its most barren stretches, there are animals. Around the equator, where those two essentials for life, sunshine and moisture, are most abundant, great forests grow. And here plants and animals proliferate in such numbers that we still have not even named all the different species. Here, animals and plants, insects and birds, mammals and man live together in intimate and complex communities, each dependent on one another. Two thirds of the surface of this unique planet are covered by water, and it was here indeed that life began. From the oceans, it has spread even to the summits of the highest mountains as animals and plants have responded to the changing face of the Earth.”

— David Attenborough’s opening narration

1. “The Building of the Earth”

Broadcast 19 January 1984, the first episode begins in the world’s deepest valley: that of the Kali Gandaki river in the Himalayas. Its temperatures range from those of the tropics in its lower reaches to that of the poles higher up. It therefore shows how creatures become adapted to living in certain environments. The higher that Attenborough travels, the more bleak and mountainous is the terrain, and the more suited to it are the animals that live there. However, such adaptations are comparatively recent: these mountains were formed from the sea bed some 65 million years ago. To show the force of nature responsible for this, Attenborough stands in front of an erupting volcano in Iceland and handles a piece of basalt; the Giant’s Causeway is an example of what happens to it over a great length of time. The Icelandic volcanoes represent the northern end of a fissure that is mostly underwater and runs down one side of the globe, forming volcanic islands en route where it is above sea level. It is such activity, known as plate tectonics, from deep within the Earth that pulled apart Africa and South America and created the Atlantic Ocean. Footage of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 shows what decimation it caused. However, this pales in comparison to the destruction caused by Krakatoa in 1883, which Attenborough relates in detail. When such pressure beneath the Earth shifts, it results in hot springs and caverns — which themselves support life.


2. “The Frozen World”

Broadcast 26 January 1984, this programme describes the inhospitable habitats of snow and ice. Mount Rainier in America is an example of such a place: there is no vegetation, therefore no herbivores and thus no carnivores. However, beneath its frosty surface, algae grow and some insects, such as ladybirds visit the slopes. Africa’s mountains are permanently snow-covered, and beneath peaks such as Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, there are communities of plants and animals. However, they endure extremes of temperature within 24 hours like no other. At night they are in danger of freezing solid, and during the day they may be robbed of moisture. Lobelias combat this by either producing pectin or insulating themselves with an abundance of leaves that simulate the effect of a fur coat. The Andes run the length of South America and are surrounded by the altiplano. On these high plains there is a large and varied population of animals. Antarctica is bigger than the whole of Europe and is for the most part devoid of life. However, its shores and waters are fertile and are home to fur seals, their main food (krill), and several species of penguin. By contrast, because of its connection to more temperate regions, the Arctic has been colonised by a large variety of species. They include arctic foxes, polar bears, lemmings, snowy owls, and the region’s most powerful hunter, the Inuit. It is also a temporary home to migratory animals, such as the caribou and snow goose.


3. “The Northern Forests”

Broadcast 2 February 1984, the next instalment examines the northern coniferous forests. The programme begins in northern Norway, 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Here, there is only just enough light for the pine trees to survive, but it is extremely cold during the winter. Pine cone seeds provide one of the few foods available at this time of year, and large herbivores such as the moose must also rely on their fat reserves. However, there are predators, including lynxes, wolverines and eagle owls. The coniferous forest grows in a belt right around the globe, some 1,900 kilometres across at its widest. On each continent, many migratory animals arrive in the spring, and even more during the summer. In years when the vole population is high, the numbers of their main predator, the owls, increase correspondingly and spread out. Further south, the warmer climate sees the pine trees give way to broad-leaved species, such as the oak and beech. More birds occupy the forest canopy during the summer than at any other time of year, feeding on a myriad of insects. At the onset of winter, many animals in these forests hibernate, and in America, Attenborough uncovers the den of a black bear, which can be asleep for six months at a time. Finally, further south still, Attenborough discovers the effects of forest fires, which are not so destructive as they appear — the areas affected rejuvenate themselves within a couple of months, with more flowers than before.


4. “Jungle”

Broadcast 16 February 1984, this episode is devoted to the jungles of the tropics. Attenborough ascends a kapok in the South American tropical rainforest to observe “the greatest proliferation of life that you can find anywhere on Earth.” There are two main causes for this: warmth and wetness. As this climate is constant, there are no seasons, so trees vary greatly in their flowering cycles. However, each species does so at the same time and, because of the lack of wind, relies on birds and insects for pollination. Bromeliads have their own population of visitors, largely due to their chalice-like rosettes of leaves that hold water. This is used by some for drinking, or, as in the case of the poison dart frog, for depositing tadpoles. Attenborough also highlights those species that have perfected the art of camouflage, including phasmids. The most densely populated part of the jungle is in its uppermost reaches. Around half-way down, there is little life, apart from those that inhabit nest holes, such as macaws, or use the trunks and lianas to aid movement. The jungle floor is not very fertile as the rain washes away any nutriment from the soil. Tree roots therefore rely on a kind of compost formed from decaying leaves — a process that is greatly accelerated in the natural humidity. After a tropical storm, an aged kapok comes crashing to the ground, leaving a gap in the canopy above. The process of renewal then begins as saplings race to fill the space created.


5. “Seas of Grass”

Broadcast 23 February 1984, this programme looks at a plant of which there are some 10,000 species and which covers over a quarter of vegetated land: the grasses. It is a plant that keeps growing despite continuous grazing — because a grass leaf grows at its base, which is permanently active. At such low levels, lizards prey on insects, praying mantis eat grasshoppers, spiders hunt anything they can and dung beetles clear up the mess. Termites are among the most successful: in the savannah of Brazil, there are more termite mounds per acre than anywhere else — and where they flourish, the anteater follows. At dawn on the Brazilian campo, many open-nesting birds are vulnerable to species such as the tegu. There are few trees because of little water and during the dry season, caiman and turtles vie for space in such pools as there are. 3,000 kilometres to the north, in Venezuela, the clay soil enables the llanos to hold flood water, and some creatures, such as the capybara, relish it. Further north still, on the North American prairie, the freezing temperature of minus 46°C means that few animals can survive it; the bison is one that can. The African plains have a greater variety and bigger concentration of grass-living animals than any other. This leads to a similar abundance of predators, and the Merle people ambush white-eared kob as they cross a river. Of the million animals that attempt the crossing over several days, some 5,000 are killed.


6. “The Baking Deserts”

Broadcast 1 March 1984, the next instalment explores the world of deserts. It begins in the largest, the Sahara, where the highest land temperatures have been recorded. Rock paintings depict creatures such as giraffes and antelopes, suggesting that at one point there was enough vegetation to support them. Now, such life has all but disappeared, with the exception of the cypress, whose roots find water deep underground. Since the night brings low temperatures, many of the creatures that live there are nocturnal. They include fennecs, geckos, jerboas and caracals. A scorpion is shown fighting a black widow spider. During the day, the desert belongs to the reptiles, which rely on the sun to warm their bodies. The Sonoran desert is home to the Gila monster, one of the two poisonous lizards. By mid-afternoon, it’s so hot that even reptiles must escape the sun’s rays. However, some birds have developed methods for keeping cool. The sandgrouse evaporates moisture by fluttering its throat, while the road runner also uses its tail as a parasol. Plants that are best adapted to the habitat are the creosote bush and cacti, of which the saguaro is one of the biggest. The nomadic Tuareg people cross the Sahara from one side to the other — but can’t do so unaided. They rely on the camel for transportation, as much as it needs them to periodically dig for water. Despite this, it is one of the best adapted desert animals: it can go without water for ten times as long as a man.


7. “The Sky Above”

Broadcast 8 March 1984, this episode deals with the air and those creatures that spend most of their lives in it. Attenborough begins in NASA’s gravity research aircraft to illustrate the effect of weightlessness. There are surprisingly many plants whose seeds are, in effect, lighter than air. Gossamer is the animal equivalent, spun by tiny spiders. Only the very smallest plants and animals can defy gravity, but some seeds, such as those of the sycamore, cheat this by simulating the movement of a helicopter. Many creatures are expert gliders, such as the flying frog and some species of lizard. However, those that live at grass level must use powered flight, sometimes aided with a leap, as with the grasshopper. Attenborough observes albatrosses in South Georgia exploiting the air currents above cliffs to glide all day. Heavy birds like vultures wait for the land to heat up and provide thermals before they attempt any lengthy flight. The techniques of diving birds, such as the gannet or the peregrine falcon, are shown. Migratory birds are also explored in detail, and a multitude assembles above Panama each autumn. The red-breasted goose migrates entirely overland, and so can stop for fuel every night — unlike those that cross the open ocean. Finally, Attenborough ascends 6.5 kilometres into the atmosphere in a hot air balloon. It is this space that contains the Earth’s weather, and satellite imagery is used to illustrate the formation of hurricanes and tornados.


8. “Sweet Fresh Water”

Broadcast 15 March 1984, this programme focuses on fresh water habitats. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh, and Attenborough describes the course the Amazon, starting high up in the Andes of Peru, whose streams flow into the great river. Young rivers are by nature vigorous and dangerous: they flow fast and form rapids, thick with mud and sediment. They accumulate sand and gravel en route, and this erodes all but the hardest surrounding rocks. The Yellow River of China carries the most sediment of any river. By the time it has settled down and fallen over its last cascade, the water becomes tranquil and rich with nutrients from its banks. It begins to form lakes, and where the water flows into basins created by geological faults, they can be immense. When water reaches such areas, it loses its impetus and drops its sediment, potentially making it very fertile. Lake Baikal in Russia is the deepest: 1,500 metres. In addition, 80% of its inhabitants are unique, including the Baikal seal. There are many examples of creatures that thrive in such an environment. Predators lie in wait above the surface (kingfishers), below it (turtles), on it (water boatmen), and at its edge (fishing spiders). In its final stages, a river’s tributaries are liable to burst their banks and flood. However, some have made a virtue of this: the Marsh Arabs of Iraq construct their buildings on rafts of reeds. This allows fish, pelicans and humans to flourish in a single community.


9. “The Margins of the Land”

Broadcast 22 March 1984, this instalment details coastal environments and the effect of tides, of which the highest can be found in the Bay of Fundy in North America. In places, erosion is causing the land to retreat, while in others — such as the tropics — the expansion of mangroves causes it to advance. Mussels keep their shells closed at low tide to deter attackers but the oystercatcher is adept at dealing with them. Other estuary wading birds, which have developed a multitude of techniques for gathering food from mud flats, include godwits, curlews, dunlins, ringed plovers and avocets. While glasswort grows on many European tidal banks, the mangroves of the tropics are extensive. The largest forest is in the Sundarbans at the mouth of the Ganges River and is 370 square metres in size. Where waves meet rocks and cliffs, the bands between low and high tides are narrow, and creatures have developed according to their dietary and safety needs. Mussels are preyed on by starfish, and so ensure that they are out of reach at low tide. Barnacles are higher still and feed on microscopic particles. On a Costa Rican beach, Attenborough observes female Ridley turtles arriving at the rate of some 5,000 an hour to deposit their eggs. Finally, he discovers the largest turtle, the giant leatherback, also laying eggs. He remarks that despite its great size, little is known about it — except that its eggs are easily plundered, thus making it an endangered species.


10. “Worlds Apart”

Broadcast 29 March 1984, this episode investigates remote islands and their inhabitants. Some islands are tips of volcanoes; others are coral atolls. Those that colonise them transform into new species with comparative speed. Attenborough visits Aldabra in the Indian Ocean, which is 400 kilometres from the African coast. It has a vast population of sooty terns, which enjoy a degree of protection from predators that is unavailable on the mainland. The giant tortoise has also proliferated, despite the inhospitable nature of the landscape. Many island birds become flightless, including the Aldabran rail and the extinct dodo of Mauritius. Living in such isolation seems to allow some species to outgrow their mainland cousins, and Attenborough observes a group of feeding Komodo dragons at close quarters. The volcanic islands of Hawaii have become rich in vegetation and and therefore a multitude of colonists: for example, there are at least 800 species of drosophila that are unique to the area. Polynesians reached Hawaii several thousand years ago, and their sea-going culture enabled them to reach many Pacific islands, including Easter Island, where they carved the Moai, and New Zealand: the ancestors of the Maori. Attenborough highlights the kakapo as a species that was hunted to near-extinction. It is a facet of animal island dwellers that they have developed no means of self-defence, since their only predators are those that have been introduced by humans.


11. “The Open Ocean”

Broadcast 5 April 1984, this programme concentrates on the marine environment. Attenborough goes underwater himself to observe the ocean’s life forms and comment on them at first hand. He states that those that live on the sea bed are even more varied than land inhabitants. Much sea life is microscopic, and such creatures are collectively known as plankton. Some animals are filter feeders and examples include the manta ray, the basking shark and the largest, the whale shark. Bony fish with their swim bladders and manoeuvrable fins dominate the seas, and the tuna is hailed as the fastest hunter, but the superiority of these types of fish did not go unchallenged: mammals are also an important component of ocean life. Killer whales, dolphins, narwhals and humpback whales are shown, as well as a school of beluga whales, which congregate annually in a bay in the Canadian Arctic — for reasons unknown. Marine habitats can be just as diverse as those on dry land. Attenborough surmises that the coral reef, with its richness of life, is the water equivalent of the jungle. Where the breezes of the Gulf Stream meet those of the Arctic, the resulting currents churn up nutrients, which lead to vegetation, the fish that eat it, and others that eat them. Attenborough remarks that it is man who has been most responsible for changing ocean environments by hunting relentlessly, but in doing so has also created new ones for himself — and this leads to the final episode.


12. “New Worlds”

Broadcast 12 April 1984, the final instalment surveys those environments that have been created by and for humans. Man has spread to all corners of the globe — not because he has evolved to suit his surroundings, but because he has exploited the adaptations of other animal species. Despite being in existence for 500,000 years, it was not until 9,000 years ago that man began to create his own habitat, and in Beidha, in Jordan, Attenborough examines the remains of one of the earliest villages. Its inhabitants owned animals, and this domestication spread to Europe, eventually arriving in Britain. Much of the UK’s landscape is man-made: for example, the South Downs were once a forest and the Norfolk Broads are the flooded remains of pits dug 600 years ago. Man also shaped his land by ridding himself of certain species and introducing others. He changed plants by harvesting them: the vast wheat fields of America now constitute a monoculture, where no other species are permitted. The same can be said for cities, which were constructed entirely for man’s benefit. While humans are good at managing unwanted species (such as rats and other vermin), Attenborough argues that man has failed to look after natural resources and highlights the ignorance in assuming that the Earth has an infinite capacity to absorb waste. The now acidic, lifeless lakes of Scandinavia are examples that are “shameful monuments to our carelessness and lack of concern.”


“Immensely powerful though we are today, it’s equally clear that we’re going to be even more powerful tomorrow. And what’s more there will be greater compulsion upon us to use our power as the number of human beings on Earth increases still further. Clearly we could devastate the world. […] As far as we know, the Earth is the only place in the universe where there is life. Its continued survival now rests in our hands.”

— David Attenborough, in closing

BBC - Michael Wood - In Search of Myths & Heroes

In Search of Myths and Heroes is an enjoyable series of programs: well researched, dynamic, visually sumptuous and informative. These programs are not out to give exhaustive explanations of historical events. Instead, they approach the heavy subject matter with a light touch, a sense of adventure and the feel of a quest — searching for factual evidence of fictional characters.
Michael Wood has always brought history to life. He connects to the past through the people keeping the traditions alive and through the ancient festivals and celebrations that have been handed down across the centuries. His enthusiasm for his field is seemingly unlimited and his barely contained excitement as he follows his routes in search of evidence is damn well addictive.

His journeys take him to some of the most remote and exciting places on earth - from the fantastic landscapes of Western Tibet, to the mountains of Georgia and the Caucasus; and from the plains of Southern Iraq, to the coasts of Ethiopia, Yemen and the Horn of Africa. The stories he reveals will also take in Greece and Turkey, India and Nepal, Egypt and Israel, and the world of Celtic Britain and the West of Ireland.
In his investigations Michael Wood delves into the past to separate fact from fiction, and find the historical truth.

Queen of Sheba:
The Queen of Sheba - an exotic and mysterious woman of power - is immortalised in the world’s great religious works, among them the Hebrew Bible and the Muslim Koran. She also appears in Turkish and Persian painting, in Kabbalistic treatises, and in medieval Christian mystical works, where she is viewed as the embodiment of Divine Wisdom and a foreteller of the cult of the Holy Cross. In Africa and Arabia her tale is still told to this day and, indeed, her tale has been told and retold in many lands for nearly 3,000 years.
Trying to ascertain who she may really have been is an arduous task, and a question soon arises. Why, if so little is known about her, has she become such an important figure?
The tales of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba have, after all, even provided the founding myths for the modern states of Israel and Ethiopia.


For centuries, man has yearned for an earthly paradise, and no place better encapsulates this desire than Shangri-La - but was it ever real?
The tale of an earthly paradise is among the most enduring myths in the world. From Sumerian epic to the ‘islands of the blest’ in Celtic literature, it has been a recurring theme through many bodies of literature and for thousands of years. Not surprisingly, then, modern people have also been drawn to the dream of a lost paradise where the ravages of time and history have been held back, where human beings live in harmony with nature, and where the wisdom of the planet is saved for future generations. In other words, to a Shangri-La.


Jason and the Golden Fleece:
The Greek tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece has been told for 3,000 years. It’s a classic hero’s quest tale - a sort of ancient Greek mission impossible - in which the hero embarks on a sea voyage into an unknown land, with a great task to achieve. He is in search of a magical ram’s fleece, which he has to find in order to reclaim his father’s kingdom of Iolkos from the usurper King Pelias.
Michael Wood discovers a story of heroism, treachery, love and tragedy that would make Hollywood proud.


King Arthur:
The fantastical tale of King Arthur, the hero warrior, is one of the great themes of British literature. But was it just invented to restore British pride after the Norman invasion? Michael Wood puts the king in the spotlight.


Pass: calek

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Discovery Channel - The Ultimate Guide: DOLPHINS & WHALES


Peaceful, friendly, intelligent beings that swim as if the owned the sea, dolphins have long evoked our affection and fascination, but we know little about them. Ultimate Guide takes a fresh look at the world of the dolphins and meets up with scientists who are deepening our understanding of them.


pass: lollylegs

The largest creatures that ever lived and yet exquisitely graceful mammals, whales can dive a mile into the depths of the ocean. Learn about their past, discover their successes and failures, see startling comparisons of size and speed in this reference to the world’s greatest living creatures.


pass: lollylegs

PBS Special - The Armenian Genocide

This is the story of the first genocide of the 20th century â€â€ when more than one million Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during World War I. The powerful documentary features never-before-seen historical footage of the events and key players of one of the major untold stories of the 20th century. It is narrated by Julianna Margulies and includes historical narrations by Ed Harris, Natalie Portman, Laura Linney and Orlando Bloom, among others. Filmed in the United States, France, Germany, Belgium, Turkey and Syria, The Armenian Genocide features discussions with Kurdish and Turkish citizens in modern-day Turkey who speak openly about the stories told to them by their parents and grandparents. To this day, the Turkish government denies that the genocide occurred and maintains this position steadfastly. “As Turkey seeks to join the European Union, 90 years later, this film can give people a much better understanding of why this issue is such an important and current part of the international conversation about Turkey’s role in the world today,” says Andrew Goldberg, the program’s producer, director and writer.

Armenian Genocide: Exploring the Issues

Hosted by NPR’s Scott Simon, this 30-minute documentary chronicles the events that led to the deaths of more than one million Armenians during World War I. Its intent is not to “balance” the documentary but to further explore the question of how historians can come to such divergent conclusions about these events. As Scott Simon acknowledges in the follow-up discussion, bringing together these two sides is almost unprecedented. The program features four panelists:
Taner Akcam, Ph.D. (visiting associate professor of history, University of Minnesota), Peter Balakian, Ph.D. (professor of the humanities, Colgate University), Justin McCarthy, Ph.D. (professor of history, University of Louisville) and Ömer Turan, Ph.D. (associate professor of history, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey).


The Passion (BBC)

It's the start of Passover week. In the next few days thousands of pilgrims will pour into Jerusalem to celebrate the most important festival in their religious calendar. For their Roman masters, led by Pontius Pilate, it is the most difficult time of the year. For the High Priest Caiaphas and his Temple priests the workload will be heavy and the pressure to maintain civil order will be intense.

Then news is brought that Jesus the Galilean is approaching the city on a donkey's colt, and will be entering Jerusalem through the East Gate - thus fulfilling two of the most powerful religious prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. The one who many believe will lead them to military victory or spiritual salvation.

On the streets a crowd is beginning to gather.

And the week has only just begun...

episode 1

episode 2

episode 3

episode 4

Stephen Hawking’s UNIVERSE [Complete 6-part Series]

6-part documentary series from arguably the greatest scientific mind in the world, the wheelchair-bound Stephen Hawking, which describes all current thinking on the Big Bang, origins of the universe, dark matter, black holes, etc. Includes interviews with leading astronomers and scientists, some commentary from the great man himself, and computer models of the theories.


1. Seeing is believing

2. In the beginning

3. Cosmic alchemy

4. On the dark side

5. Black holes and beyond

6. An answer to everything

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