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astronomy, Documentaries

Alien Planet

YEAR: 2005 | LENGTH: 1 part (94 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


Alien Planet is a 94-minute docufiction, originally airing on the Discovery Channel, about two internationally built robot probes searching for alien life on the fictional planet Darwin IV. It was based on the book Expedition, by sci-fi/fantasy artist and writer Wayne Douglas Barlowe, who was also executive producer on the special. It premiered on May 14, 2005.

The show uses computer-generated imagery, which is interspersed with interviews from such notables as Stephen Hawking, George Lucas, Michio Kaku and Jack Horner. The show was filmed in Iceland and Mono Lake in California.

Alien Planet starts out with an interstellar spacecraft named Von Braun, leaving Earth’s orbit. Traveling at 20% the speed of light (37,000 miles/s), it reaches Darwin IV in 42 years. Upon reaching orbit, it deploys the Darwin Reconnaissance Orbiter, which looks for potential landing sites for the probes. The first probe, Balboa, explodes along with its lifting body transport during entry, because one of its wings failed to unfold. Two backup probes, Leonardo da Vinci (nicknamed Leo) and Isaac Newton (nicknamed Ike), successfully land on the planet, and learn much about its bizarre indigenous lifeforms, including an apparently sapient species.

The robotic probes sent out to research on Darwin IV are called Horus Probes. Each Horus probe consists of an 8-foot (2.4 m) high, 40-foot (12 m) long inflatable, hydrogen-filled balloon, which is covered with solar receptors, a computer ‘brain’, a ‘head’ covered with sensors, and several smaller robots that can be sent to places too dangerous for the probes themselves. The probes have a limited degree of artificial intelligence, very similar to the ‘processing power’ of a 4-year-old. All the real thinking is done by a supercomputer in the orbiting Von Braun. The probes are programmed with different personalities; Ike is more cautious, while Leo is the risk-taker. The two probes are also equipped with a holographic message that will be projected to any sentient life found on Darwin.

After the two probes inflate their gas-bags, they encounter a voracious Arrowtongue and watch it pursue a Gyrosprinter. Later that night, the twins find the wreckage of Balboa and are forced to split up, Ike studying the unique plant life and Leo going after big game. Ike’s voyage takes him to one of Darwin IV’s pocket forests, where he encounters a flock of Trunk Suckers and their predator, the Daggerwrist. Before his research is finished, a massive hurricane-like storm hits and Ike must take to the sky, launching weather balloons. Leo goes to the mountain ranges and finds a herd of Unths engaged in rutting-like behavior.

Afterward, Leo finds a pair of Bladderhorns engaging in combat. He tries to communicate with one, but a sonic ping interrupts the conversation and scares off the animal, and he is knocked out by a mysterious creature. Ike ventures to the meadows and gullies of Darwin IV, encountering a massive herd of Grovebacks and Littoralopes. It is here that he also encounters a pair of Pterosaur-like Skewers.

Leo gets destroyed by a mysterious and evasive creature, and Ike, ordered by the Von Braun to search for Leo’s attacker, hopes to find a new sentient species. Ike’s route takes him across perilous terrain, and across the Amoebic Sea in his quest for Leo. As he embarks on his journey, one of the Grovebacks seen earlier falls victim to a swarm of Beach Quills. Ike then finds a pack of Prongheads hunting a Gyrosprinter, and crosses the Amoebic Sea (which attempted to attack Ike), encountering a herd of giant Sea Striders.

Ike manages to find Leo after a harrowing experience with a Skewer which tries to attack him, but before it could it was killed by a spear that was thrown by the newly discovered Eosapien. Shortly afterward, Ike communicates with the Eosapien tribe and discovers that they are truly intelligent. Ike launches a camera disk to record the moment, or perhaps “to assess the threat” due to a third Eosapien appearing; however one of the Eosapiens mistakes it as an attack and destroy the camera disk. Before shutting down, the wrecked camera disk records the Eosapien tribe carrying Ike away.

Commentary from notable people discussing the details behind the fictional world of Darwin IV and the likelihood of extraterrestrial life in general is interspersed throughout the movie.

biology, Documentaries

Life in the Undergrowth

YEAR: 2005 | LENGTH: 5 parts (50 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


A study of the evolution and habits of invertebrates, it was the fifth of Attenborough’s specialised surveys following his major trilogy that began with Life on Earth. Each of the five 50-minute episodes looks at a group (or aspect) of the creatures using innovative photographic techniques.


Broadcast 23 November 2005, the first episode tells how invertebrates became the first creatures of any kind to colonise dry land. Their forerunners were shelled and segmented sea creatures that existed 400 million years ago. Some of them ventured out of the water to lay their eggs in safety, and Attenborough compares those first steps with today’s mass spawning of horseshoe crabs off the Atlantic coast of North America. Some animals abandoned the oceans altogether when the land became green with algae, mosses and liverworts. The earliest ground-dwellers were millipedes, which were quickly followed by other species. Springtails are shown to be smaller than the head of a pin and, for their size, can jump immense heights. The velvet worm hunts nocturnally and has scarcely changed over millennia, while the giant centipede can kill instantly and is shown hunting bats in Venezuela. Mating habits are explored, including the unusual ritual of leopard slugs and the meticulous nest maintenance of the harvestman. The arrival of earthworms was of great importance since they changed the nature of the soil, leading to a proliferation of plant life. Despite their aquatic ancestry, many invertebrates, particularly those with no exoskeleton, need a moist environment to keep themselves from drying out. Finally, a creature that has adapted to a desert habitat, the scorpion, is shown as it pursues its dangerous courting dance, followed by the birth of up to fifty individuals.

Broadcast 30 November 2005, the next programme deals with flying insects. It begins in Central Europe, where the Körös River plays host to millions of giant mayflies as they rise from their larval skins to mate. — the climax of their lives. Mayflies and dragonflies were among the first to take to the air about 320 million years ago, and fossils reveal that some were similar in size to a seagull. Damselflies are also looked at in detail. One species, the rare cascade damsel, inhabits waterfalls, while another, the helicopter damsel, lives away from water (unlike all the others in its group) and is also the biggest. Several types of butterfly are shown, but all have common habits, and Attenborough describes their physiology. Together with moths, they possess the largest wings, and this surface area gives ample opportunity to display for partners or warn off predators. In cold weather, bumblebees must warm themselves to prepare for flight: they ‘disable’ their wings, enabling them to exercise their muscles without taking off. The vestigial rear wings of flies and crane flies are used for navigation, and arguably the most accomplished insect aviator is the hoverfly, which makes continuous adjustments while in the air to remain stationary. Beetles that are capable of flight have to keep their wings below covers, and a specimen of the largest, the titan beetle, is shown. Attenborough attempts to entice a male cicada, only to have it land on his ear (causing laughter from the camera team).

Broadcast 7 December 2005, the third instalment examines the spiders and others that produce silk. Attenborough visits New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves, which are inhabited by fungus gnats whose illuminated larvae sit atop glistening, beaded filaments to lure their prey. The ability to spin silk developed early in the invertebrates’ history, being first used as an adhesive. The female lacewing still applies it in this way, to suspend its eggs from plant stems. Spiders first employed it as a sensitive trip line to detect movement, and Attenborough illustrates this by encouraging a trapdoor spider.


The speed with which it appears causes the presenter to jump in surprise. The webs spun by orb-weavers are complex and can comprise up to 60 metres of silk and 3,000 separate attachments. A time-lapse sequence reveals their intricate construction. The largest are made by Nephila and can be several metres across. The venomous redback spins three-dimensionally, and fixes vertical lines that suspend its unlucky meals in mid-air. Meanwhile, the bolas spider swings a length of silk with a sticky blob on the end, with which to snare passing moths. Argiope exemplifies the dangers of mating that are faced by some male spiders: unless they are careful, they can be consumed by the females. The courtship of the wolf spider, though less risky, is one of the more elaborate. Its nesting habits are discussed, along with the eventual birth of its young, which cling to their mother’s back.

Broadcast 14 December 2005, the penultimate episode focuses on the relationships between invertebrates and plants or other animals. It begins with ants and aphids: the former ‘herd’ the latter and protect them in return for secreted honeydew. The activities of gall-inducing insects are described, using the example of the oak tree. Many plants recruit insects to aid pollination, offering nectar for doing so, and some predators have adopted camouflage to take advantage of this, such as the crab spider. Stick insects rely on ants to hide their eggs underground for them in safety. In the Californian desert, the blister beetle’s larvae congregate on a stem and, by releasing a pheromone, attract a male digger bee on the lookout for a female. They climb aboard their visitor and eventually transfer to its mate, which will in turn unwittingly deposit them in its nest — providing sustenance. An orchard spider is shown enduring a parasitic wasp grub, which injects its host with a hormone that deranges it and halts the spinning of webs. The grub then sucks the liquid from the spider’s body and uses the remaining silk to form its cocoon. Fairy wasps are so small that they can lay their eggs inside those of water beetles — and can even mate while inside them. The tiger beetle larva ambushes ants by plugging its burrow with its head and pouncing. However, this doesn’t work with Methocha, an ant-like wasp, which avoids the jaws of the beetle larva, paralyses it with a sting, and lays its eggs on the host. After dragging the paralysed larva deeper into the burrow, the entrance is carefully plugged and concealed. Ants defend their colonies fiercely; however Alcon blue butterflies manage to get their young inside the ants’ nests by giving their young a scent exactly like that of the ant larvae; as a result the caterpillars are treated as if they were in fact ant larvae. However, this strategy is not flawless. Ichneumon wasps break into the ant colonies and release chemicals that make the ant guardians attack each other; the wasp then injects two of her eggs into the butterfly caterpillars. However, the ants seem to save at least one caterpillar as one of the pupae is later shown hatching into an adult Alcon blue butterfly.

Broadcast 21 December 2005, the final programme looks at the superorganisms formed by bees, ants and termites. Attenborough reveals that their colonies, whose individuals were once considered purely servile, are “full of conflict, power struggles and mutinies.” They evolved when such creatures moved away from a solitary existence and started building nests side-by-side, which led to a collective approach to caring for their young. There are about 20,000 species of bee, and a queen bumblebee is shown starting a new nest. As it grows, the inhabitants all help to maintain it and bring nectar and pollen. However, anarchy erupts when the queen starts to destroy eggs laid by her workers: she is stung to death and the colony ends. Ants live in bigger societies, which can make them vulnerable, but Attenborough goads a nest of wood ants into demonstrating their defence: formic acid. In Australia, a nest in a mangrove swamp has to be continuously rearranged to escape the tides. Meanwhile, desert-dwelling harvester ants block up nearby nests in an effort to maximise their food pickings. A bivouac of army ants is explored: they prove to be one of those most regimented organisms, where the action of each individual is for the good of the million-strong colony. Attenborough investigates magnetic termites, whose slab-like mounds are all aligned to account for the movement of the Sun. Finally, a full-scale battle between termites and matabele ants is depicted in close-up.

archaeology / paleontology, Documentaries

How Earth Made Us

YEAR: 2012 | LENGTH: 5 parts (60 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Our planet has amazing power, and yet that’s rarely mentioned in our history books. This series tells the story of how the Earth has influenced human history, from the dawn of civilisation to the modern industrial age. It reveals for the first time on television how geology, geography and climate have been a far more powerful influence on the human story than has previously been acknowledged. A combination of epic story telling, visually stunning camerawork, extraordinary locations and passionate presenting combine to form a highly original version of human history.[ps2id id=’magnet’/]

Discover why societies have succeeded or failed, and how the environment has influenced every aspect of our history from art to industry, religion to war, world domination or collapse. Visiting some of the most iconic places on Earth, How Earth Made Us overturns preconceptions about our civilisations and our cultures to offer a new perspective on who we are today.


Iain Stewart tells the epic story of how the planet has shaped our history. With spectacular images, surprising stories and a compelling narrative, the series discovers the central role played in human history by four different planetary forces.


In this first episode, Iain explores the relationship between the deep Earth and the development of human civilisation. He visits an extraordinary crystal cave in Mexico, drops down a hole in the Iranian desert and crawls through seven-thousand-year-old tunnels in Israel.


His exploration reveals that throughout history, our ancestors were strangely drawn to fault lines, areas which connect the surface with the deep interior of the planet. These fault lines gave access to important resources, but also brought with them great danger.

This time he explores our complex relationship with water. Visiting spectacular locations in Iceland, the Middle East and India, Iain shows how control over water has been central to human existence.


He takes a precarious flight in a motorised paraglider to experience the cycle of freshwater that we depend on, discovers how villagers in the foothills of the Himalayas have built a living bridge to cope with the monsoon, and visits Egypt to reveal the secret of the pharaohs’ success.


Throughout history, success has depended on our ability to adapt to and control constantly shifting sources of water.

Iain sets sail on one of the fastest racing boats ever built to explore the story of our turbulent relationship with the wind. Travelling to iconic locations including the Sahara desert, the coast of West Africa and the South Pacific, Iain discovers how people have exploited the power of the wind for thousands of years.


The wind is a force which at first sight appears chaotic. But the patterns that lie within the atmosphere have shaped the destiny of continents, and lie at the heart of some of the greatest turning points in human history.

Professor Iain Stewart continues his epic exploration of how the planet has shaped human history.


Iain explores man’s relationship with fire. He begins by embarking on an extraordinary encounter with this terrifying force of nature – a walk right through the heart of a raging fire.


Fire has long been our main source of energy and Iain shows how this meant that the planet played a crucial role in Britain’s industrial revolution, whilst holding China’s development back.


Along the way he dives in a mysterious lake in Oregon, climbs a glacier of salt, crawls through an extraordinary cave in Iran and takes a therapeutic bath in crude oil.

Series in which Professor Iain Stewart looks at how four geological forces have shaped human history.


He explores the most recently established force, humans. It’s easy to think of the human impact on the planet as a negative one, but as Iain discovers, this isn’t always the case. It is clear that humans have unprecedented control over many of the planet’s geological cycles; the question is, how will the human race use this power?

Documentaries, medicine

Don’t Grow Old

YEAR: 2010 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


For centuries scientists have been attempting to come up with an elixir of youth. Now remarkable discoveries are suggesting that ageing is something flexible that can ultimately be manipulated.

Horizon meets the scientists who are attempting to piece together why we age and more vitally for all of us, what we can do to prevent it. But which theory will prevail?

Does the 95-year-old woman who smokes two packets of cigarettes a day hold the clue? Do blueberries really delay signs of ageing or is it more a question of attitude? Does the real key to controlling how we age lie with a five-year-old boy with an extraordinary ageing disease or with a self-experimenting Harvard professor?

Could one of these breakthroughs really see our lives extend past 120 years?

biology, Documentaries

Aristotle’s Lagoon

YEAR: 2011 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


In the 4th century BC the Greek philosopher Aristotle travelled to Lesvos, an island in the Aegean teeming, then as now, with wildlife. His fascination with what he found there, and his painstaking study of it, led to the birth of a new science – biology.

Professor Armand Leroi follows in Aristotle’s footsteps to discover the creatures, places and ideas that inspired the philosopher in his pioneering work.

astronomy, Documentaries

Asteroids: the Good the Bad and the Ugly

YEAR: 2012 | LENGTH:  part (60 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Famed for their ability to inflict Armageddon from outer space, asteroids are now revealing the secrets of how they are responsible for both life and death on our planet.

Armed with an array of powerful telescopes, scientists are finding up to 3000 new asteroids every night. And some are heading our way.

But astronomers have discovered that it’s not the giant rocks that are the greatest danger – it’s the small asteroids that pose a more immediate threat to Earth.

Researchers have explained the photon propulsion that propels these rocks across space, and have discovered that some asteroids are carrying a mysterious cargo of frost and ice across the solar system that could have helped start life on earth.

archaeology / paleontology, Documentaries

Walking with Cavemen

YEAR: 2003 | LENGTH: 4 parts (30 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


Walking with Cavemen is a four-part television documentary series about human evolution produced by the BBC in the United Kingdom. It was originally released in April 2003. It was subsequently presented in the United States as a two-part series by the Discovery Channel and its affiliates. There was an accompanying book of the same title.

Like the other Walking with… documentaries, Walking with Cavemen is made in the style of a wildlife documentary, featuring a voice-over narrator (Robert Winston in the British release, Alec Baldwin in the North American release) who describes the recreations of the prehistoric past as if they were real. As with the predecessors, this approach necessitated the presentation of speculation as if it were fact, and some of the statements made about the behaviour of the creatures are more open to question than the documentary may indicate.

Each segment takes the form of a short drama featuring a group of the particular hominid in question going about their daily lives (the search for food, protecting territory, and caring for the sick and injured). The intent is to get the human viewer to feel for the creatures being examined, almost to imagine being one of them (a trait that the documentary links to the modern human brain).

The documentary was produced largely by the same team who produced the award-winning Walking with… documentary series, though the original series’ director, Tim Haines, was not involved.

In the previous Walking with… documentaries, extinct animals were recreated with CGI and animatronics. For Walking with Cavemen, a slightly different approach was taken. While most of the animals depicted were still computer generated or animatronic, the human ancestors were portrayed by actors wearing makeup and prosthetics, giving them a more realistic look and permitting the actors to give the creatures a human quality.


It’s 3.5 million years ago and in East Africa a remarkable species of ape roams the land. Australopithecus afarensis has taken the first tentative steps towards humanity by standing and walking on two legs.


Just a few million years previously, Africa was covered, almost edge-to-edge, with dense rain forest. Our ancestors almost certainly used all four limbs to move and live and hunt in their tree-top homes. But massive geological turmoil changed their destiny.


The rift valley was forming, and the rain forests dying as Africa dried out – turning the landscape into a mosaic of scattered trees and grass. In this new environment afarensis found it more efficient to move about on two legs rather than four.


This film follows a close-knit troop of afarensis, and in particular, Lucy and her young infant. Led by a strong alpha male, there is harmony in their lives. They sleep high in the trees and spend most of the day foraging for food. But then tragedy strikes. While drinking from a nearby river, a lone crocodile sneaks in unnoticed and catches the alpha male unawares.


Now leaderless, a dispute for dominance between the two secondary males unsettles the troupe. Added to that, a rival troupe invades Lucy’s territory. While not uncommon in their chimp-like lifestyles, the resultant turf war is both violent and extreme and has devastating consequences.


As the troop’s life moves on, ‘First Ancestors’ shows how although bi-pedalism offers only slight advantages to the afarensis, it opens the door to an astonishing set of new skills and abilities that will change the shape of human life on Earth forever.

The Africa of two million years ago is a crossroads in human evolution. Half a dozen or more different species of ape-men exist alongside one another. Each of them has exploited the environment in a different way and has developed their own strategy for survival.


Blood Brothers’ follows the lives of two species, Paranthropus boisei and Homo habilis who embody two alternative ways of ape-man life. Although heavyset, with distinctive gorilla-like faces, the boiseiare gentle characters. They live within a strict social structure and are led by a dominant male whose strength and power holds the group together.


They are adapted brilliantly to the tough conditions in this dry arid land. Their huge teeth, four times the size of our own, and strong jaws mean they can eat the toughest vegetation. For them dried tubers and reed roots are rich pickings.


The habilis have taken a different approach to survival. They don’t have the specialisms of the boisei but instead have developed into the archetypal jack-of-all-trades, inquisitive scavengers prepared to try almost anything to survive. Tough, active, gregarious and noisy, they are always on the move and always alert to the possibility of a meal. But in the near drought of the dry season the habilis are struggling. It seems as if their way of life cannot help them when conditions are tough.


However habilis have a secret weapon. They have come to use brainpower rather than brawn. They’ve learnt to work together to scare other predators away from food. They scavenge for meat and, perhaps most importantly, make basic stone tools – equipping themselves through their own efforts with the kind of specialist eating equipment creatures like the boisei have by nature.


But which strategy for survival will win out? Which of these ways of living is still present in us? As is often the case in our story, nature has a say: Massive geological turmoil means the habilis and boisei environments continue to change. The boisei‘s specialisms have locked them into one way of living, and when their niche no longer exists, neither can they. But the habilis can adapt to a changing world – their generalist trait lives on in us.

The Africa of two million years ago is a crossroads in human evolution. Half a dozen or more different species of ape-men exist alongside one another. Each of them has exploited the environment in a different way and has developed their own survival strategy .


One and a half million years ago, a new breed of ape-man walks the land. In southern Africa, Homo ergaster has taken the next step to becoming human. They have long, modern looking noses, which cool air as they breathe.


Their hairless bodies, with millions of tiny sweat glands, mean they don’t pant anymore to control their temperature – they sweat. And, above all, they have big brains – nearly two-thirds the size of ours.


Savage Family follows the lives of a close-knit group of ergaster on a hunt and discovers how they use are their big brains. They are the first ape-men to have our complex understanding of the natural world, and can recognise and follow the footprints left behind by many different animals. They are expert toolmakers and use a highly refined stone hand axe. But the most important things they use are their big brains for understanding others in their group.


Ergaster live in large social groups and spend their time getting along with each other. Their society is held together not by a dominant male, but by the bonds of family and friends. For the first time, hunters will bring back meat to people left behind from a hunt, using it to forge alliances and reinforce relationships. Their extraordinary social world has led to a new phenomenon in our human story – couples living together monogamously, at least for a time.


Their new found social bonds and understanding of the world has equipped them with skills that enable them to move away from their ancestral home in Africa. Over thousands of years they spread throughout the Middle East and Asia, reaching as far as China and are now known in their new Asian home as – Homo erectus.


But for all their sophistication, these ancestors are still very different from us. Jump forward one million years and they are still around, and so too are their stone axes. Nothing about their exceptional tool has changed. In a million years they have made no technological advancements. Compare this with Homo sapiens who have gone from the Steam Age to the Space Age in under 100 years.


Their brains simply do not work in the flexible way ours do. For them to become like us requires a major change in thinking. It could be we know what triggered this dramatic change. Towards the end of ergaster‘s time there is evidence that they learnt to control and work with fire as a weapon, for warmth and as a tool.


For the first time in our history the night no longer brought danger, but warmth, security and time for the mind to wander and perhaps time for the mind to change. Fire certainly revolutionised the way our ancestors lived – perhaps it did the same for their thoughts.

Nearly half a million years ago, the most advanced human yet roams Europe. Strong and powerful, Homo heidelbergensis are fierce hunters, use sophisticated tools and live in close-knit family groups.


They look and behave in a very human way – yet something is missing. In ‘The Survivors’, the final programme in the series, we follow three brothers on a hunt. When one brother is injured his distraught family spend most of the night trying to keep him alive.


Yet in the morning, the hunter is dead and his family have gone, leaving him where he died. There is no ceremony and no looking back. Heidelbergensis can only see the world as it is. They cannot, for example, think of a life after death, for they lack the one thing that makes us human – a modern imagination.


Heidelbergensis are the departure point for the last leg of the journey towards modern humans. Over 200,000 years they become split into two populations by extremes of weather and environment and evolve separately into two very different species.


In the North are the Neanderthals, whose physical power and resilience is the key to surviving in ice age Northern Europe. In one of the most inhospitable environments ever, a small group of Neanderthal are finding things tough.


The leader’s partner is expecting her first child, and the men must travel far to find food. If they’re unsuccessful, the group will have to move on – a perilous journey for the near full-term mum. In their world, being strong and tough is the key to survival. If the going gets tough, they just fight back harder.


In the South the other descendants of heidelbergensis, are finding the going even harder. About 140,000 years ago, Africa is in the grip of a devastating drought, and something remarkable has happened to the descendants of heidelbergensis who live there. The combination of environment and chance has bred in them a unique ability that will change the course of human history.


They have developed a mind capable of imagination. For the first time on E arth there is a creature capable of understanding and anticipating possibilities, with the gift of abstract thought. It very possibly saves them from the brink of extinction.


Although the Neanderthals were unbeatable for a quarter of a million years, it will be this small band of southern survivors, perhaps numbering just a few tens of thousands, who will come to dominate the world and be known as Homo sapiens.

Documentaries, medicine

Mad but Glad

YEAR: 2007 | LENGTH: 1 part (50 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Is there really such a thing as the mad genius? Can an illness be both a blessing and a curse?

At seven years old, Nick van Bloss started shaking his head, grinding his teeth and making wild whooping noises. Nick had Tourette’s syndrome. No medical intervention helped him. But one activity stopped it all…

The moment Nick placed his hands on the piano keys his symptoms vanished. By the age of 20, he was an award winning international pianist. He felt sure that his illness had made him the success he was.

But there is a catch. The brain state necessary for his genius can also be dangerously close to mental chaos. Nick’s personal journey reveals how close he came to the edge and how determined he is to triumph.

Documentaries, society

Paradise or Oblivion

YEAR: 2012 | LENGTH: 1 part (50 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WEBSITE


This documentary details the root causes of the systemic value disorders and detrimental symptoms caused by our current established system. This video presentation advocates a new socio-economic system, which is updated to present-day knowledge, featuring the life-long work of Social Engineer, Futurist, Inventor and Industrial Designer Jacque Fresco, which he calls a Resource-Based Economy.

The film details the need to outgrow the dated and inefficient methods of politics, law, business, or any other “establishment” notions of human affairs, and use the methods of science, combined with high technology, to provide for the needs of all the world’s people. It is not based on the opinions of the political and financial elite or on illusionary so-called democracies, but on maintaining a dynamic equilibrium with the planet that could ultimately provide abundance for all people.

Paradise or Oblivion, by The Venus Project, introduces the viewer to a more appropriate value system that would be required to enable this caring and holistic approach to benefit human civilization. This alternative surpasses the need for a monetary-based, controlled, and scarcity-oriented environment, which we find ourselves in today.

Documentaries, society

Zeitgeist Moving Forward

YEAR: 2011 | LENGTH: 1 part (180 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


The film is arranged into four successive parts. Within each part is an amalgam of interviews, narration and animated sequences.

Section I: Human Nature – The film begins with a brief animated sequence narrated by Jacque Fresco. He describes his adolescent life and his discontinuation of public education at the age of 14 to study under his own will. He continues to express that his radical views developed as a result of experiences during the Great Depression and World War II. Studying the social sciences, mechanical and social engineering, architecture among numerous other fields of study for 75 years have, Fresco states, failed to alter this initial, radical, disposition, which he continues to outline in greater detail later in the film.

The discussion turns to human behavior and the nature vs. nurture debate. This portion begins with a small clip with Robert Sapolsky summing up the nature vs. nurture debate in which he essentially refers to it as a “false dichotomy.” After which he states that “it is virtually impossible to understand how biology works, outside the context of environment.” During which time the film then goes onto describe that it is neither Nature nor Nurture that shapes human behavior but both are supposed to influence behavior. The interviewed pundits state that even with genetic predispositions to diseases, the expression and manifestation of disease is largely determined by environmental stressors, including topics such as epigenetics and Gene–environment interactions. Disease, criminal activity and addictions are also placed in the same light. One study discussed showed that newly born babies are more likely to die if they are not touched. Another study which was mentioned claimed to show how stressed women were more likely to have children with addiction disorders. A reference is made to the unborn children who were in utero during the Dutch famine of 1944. The “Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study” is mentioned to have shown that obesity and other health complications became common problems later in life, due to prolonged starvation of their mother during pregnancy.[3] Comparisons are made by sociologists of criminals in different parts of the world and how different cultures with different values can often have more peaceful inhabitants. An Anabaptist sect called the Hutterites are mentioned to have never reported a homicide in any of their societies. The overall conclusion of Part I is that social environment and cultural conditioning play a large part in shaping human behavior.

Section II: Social Pathology – The origins of our modern economic paradigm are explored, beginning with John Locke and Adam Smith. In Two Treatises of Government, John Locke lays out the fundamental principles of private ownership of land, labor and capital. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith mentions the invisible hand balancing out supply and demand leading to trade equilibrium. The argument becomes religious as the invisible hand is interpreted as the hand of God. A critical view of economic theory is made by questioning the need for private property, money and the inherent inequality between agents in the system. Also seen critically is the need for cyclical consumption in order to maintain market share which results in wasted resources. Planned obsolescence is shown to be another important side-effect of the market system, where goods are deliberately made defective or not having sufficient technology in order to maintain a large turnover rate. The economic paradigm is then termed anti-economy due to these profligate activities. The above described process of individuals and groups exchanging goods, labor and capital is mentioned as the market economy.

The other component is the monetary economy. The monetary system regulates the money supply and interest rates by buying/selling treasuries. More critical views of the monetary system are explained. According to Zeitgeist, in the final analysis the current monetary system can only result in default or hyperinflation. This is because when money comes into existence it is created by loans at interest. The existing money supply is only the principal. The interest to pay the loan that created the money does not exist in the money supply and must be borrowed repetitively in order to service the debt. Due to this exponential money supply growth, Zeitgeist predicts the value of money is eventually destroyed as evidenced by the 96% devaluation of the U.S. money supply since the Federal Reserve was chartered in 1914 and 80% devaluation since the U.S. ended the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971.

Section III: Project Earth – As with Zeitgeist: Addendum, to improve the human condition the film presents a “resource-based economy” as advocated by Jacque Fresco. The dialogue leads to a train of thought on how human civilization should start from the beginning. Imagine an exact copy of Earth somewhere in space: conduct a survey of the planet, to assess the resource types, locations, quantities, to satisfy human demands; track the consumption and depletion of resources to regulate human demands and maintain the condition of the environment; localize the distribution of resources, to control environmental impacts and maintain self-sufficiency; place an emphasis on recycling and the use of public transportation, in order to avoid resource waste. Through the global application of existing revolutionary technologies in the manufacturing and distribution sectors, labor and money will eventually become obsolete; thereby establishing the foundation of a resource-based economy. Various technologies for improving civilization under the resource-based economy are described. The city structure will consist of concentric rings, every ring serving one critical function necessary for the function of a self-sufficient city: agriculture, energy production, residents, hospitals, schools, etc. For agriculture, hydroponics and aeroponics are mentioned as a possible solutions for food shortages. Maglev trains provide transport for the city residents. Manufacturing and construction become automated with mechanized technologies, such as three-dimensional printing and computer-aided manufacturing. Mentioned energy production methods: photovoltaic paint, wind turbines, pressure transducers and geothermal power plants.

Section IV: Rise – The world state of affairs is described in a dire light. The peak oil phenomenon is seen as a threat to civilization’s progress, potentially resulting in extinction. A case is presented that pollution, deforestation, climate change, overpopulation, and warfare are all created and perpetuated by the socioeconomic system. Various poverty statistics are shown that suggest a progressive worsening of world culture. According to the United Nations, currently 18,000 children a day die from starvation. Also according to the UN, global poverty rates have doubled since the 1970s.

The movie closes with a standoff between protesters on the streets of Times Square in New York City facing off against police in riot gear while in the midst of global economic depression. People withdraw trillions of dollars from the world’s central banks, then dump the money at the doors of the banks. The police stand down. The final scene of the film shows a partial view of earth from space, followed by a sequence of superimposed statements; “This is your world”, “This is our world”, and “The revolution is now”.

Documentaries, society

Zeitgeist Addendum

YEAR: 2008 | LENGTH: 1 part (120 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WEBSITE


Zeitgeist: Addendum, 2008, was born out of public interest in possible solutions to the cultural issues presented in Peter Joseph’s first work, Zeitgeist: The Movie. Building upon the topics of social distortion and corruption, Addendum moves to also present possible solutions.

Featured in the work is former “Economic Hit-man” and  New York Times bestselling author, John Perkins, along with The Venus Project, an organization for social redesign created by Social Engeneer and Industrial Designer Jacque Fresco.

Zeitgeist: Addendum was premiered at the 5th Annual Artivist’s Film Festival and given its highest award in 2008.

“Director Peter Joseph demonstrates the ability to take risky subject matter and turn it into a visually, emotionally, and intellectually compelling case for a greater point of view,” states Diaky Diaz. “Millions of people gravitated toward Peter’s first film. We are excited that this year’s Artivist Film Festival will provide a platform to once again, pique the curiosity of millions of viewers and continue the dialogue about topics concerning Americans and citizens worldwide.”

It was released online for free on Oct. 3rd 2008 and since then it has been estimated to have been downloaded over 70 million times. As with the previous release – non-commercial, open distribution is allowed/encouraged. This work can be freely screened, shared, uploaded, downloaded in both compressed and DVD form ( via torrents ) without restriction – as long as no money is exchanged.

Documentaries, society

The Yes Men Fix the World

YEAR: 2009 | LENGTH: 1 part (95 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


The Yes Men Fix the World is a 2009 English language documentary film about the culture jamming exploits of The Yes Men. The film premiered in New York City and Los Angeles on October 23, 2009 and in other U.S. cities beginning on October 30. Due to the movie being sued by United States Chamber of Commerce, a special edition of the movie is distributed through bittorrent through VODO and other prominent torrent sites like The Pirate Bay and EZTV.

The film documents the following projects: US Chamber of Commerce and climate change, Dow Chemical and Bhopal
ExxonMobil Vivoleum, Halliburton Survivaball, HUD and post-Katrina public housing, New York Times hopeful future edition.