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  • Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1924)

    Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1924)

    Filmed on location between Turkey and Iran, Grass is an amazing first ethnographical account of nomadic Bakhtiyari people. The subjects of this film later also were revisited by landmark documentaries like the “Harvest of the Seasons” episode of the Charles Bronowski’s Ascent of Man series in 1973. Similarly, Akira Kurosawa’s 1975 film Dersu Uzala, centered around an aboriginal Nanai tribesman and Werner Herzog’s Happy People (2013) are productions in this tradition. The film is contemporary to Robert Flaherty’s Flaherty’s Nanook […]

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  • A Tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau: Cries from the Deep (1981)

    A Tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau: Cries from the Deep (1981)

    Ever since the publication of his first book titled “The Silent World” in 1953 Jacques Yves Cousteau has generated multiple waves of inspiration worldwide. A documentary produced under the same title won the prestigious Palm d’Or award at Cannes Film Festival in 1956. This is a rare achievement among nature documentaries. Cousteau’s second big hit arrived in 1965 with another production titled World Without Sun documenting activities of six crew members living in Continental Shelf Station II at 10m depth […]

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  • Leonardo Da Vinci the Anatomist – Nature Video

    Leonardo Da Vinci the Anatomist – Nature Video

    Leonardo da Vinci transformed natural sciences by his careful observations, experiments and illustrations. He distinguished himself in the harsh world of the Medici ruled 16th Century Florence in the aftermath of the fall of Constantinople. In this video by Nature Magazine, Senior Curator Martin Clayton exlains three of Leonardo’s most intriguing anatomical studies. Today, Leonardo’s drawings kept in solander boxes in the Print Room in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. A selection of his drawings is on display in […]

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  • Secrets of the Hive – Why Puerto Rico’s Killer Bees Stopped Killing – Smithsonian Institution (2015)

    Secrets of the Hive – Why Puerto Rico’s Killer Bees Stopped Killing – Smithsonian Institution (2015)

    Secrets of the Hive is a Smithsonian Institution documentary directed by Dennis Wells. It focuses on the decline of the honeybees and reviews potential solutions to restore pollination service provided by these important domesticated insects. A major emphasis of the documentary is on the Africanized honeybees. These bees are a result of a failed experiment that started with good intentions in Brazil. Researchers in 1950s wanted to introduce the genetic vigor lost in honeybees due to domestication. Trials to selectively […]

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  • The Antikythera Mechanism: The Two-Thousand-Year-Old Computer – Mike Beckham (2012)

    The Antikythera Mechanism: The Two-Thousand-Year-Old Computer – Mike Beckham (2012)

    Antikythera Mechanism is one of the best demonstrations of human intellect attempting to understand nature systematically. The contraption is most certainly a very complex device. It is an impressively accurate “analog model” of our then earth-centric universe. Science gives us prediction power and Antikythera Mechanism is an excellent example for how astronomical observations can be defined mathematically to reconcile lunar and solar calendars and predict eclipses with hourly accuracy using 27 gear pieces. It uses the Metonic Cyle first implemented […]

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  • Virtual Reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism – Michael Wright & Mogi Vicentini (2009)

    Virtual Reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism – Michael Wright & Mogi Vicentini (2009)

    Trying to predict future is one of the characteristics of Human nature which ultimately gave us the scientific method. Antikythera Mechanism is one of the best demonstrations of human intellect attempting to understand nature systematically. The contraption is most certainly a very complex device. It is an impressively accurate “analog model” of our then earth-centric universe. The Antikythera Mechanism was built like a clock. Trains of interlocking gearwheels controlled the movements of a minimum of seven pointers perfectly tracking the […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 1: One Small Step For Man (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 1: One Small Step For Man (2009)

    Beagle: In Darwin’s Wake is a commemoration of 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s book “On The Origin of Species”. Almost 180 years after Charles Darwin’s journey circumnavigating the world, a crew of authors, artists, and scientists follow in his footsteps. Journalist and presenter Lex Runderkamp, biologists Dirk Draulans and Sarah Darwin (who is the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin), the artist Anthony Smith and the writer Redmond O’Hanlon are accompanied by a number of invited guests whose backgrounds are […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 2: Low Life on the Ladder of God (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 2: Low Life on the Ladder of God (2009)

    When Darwin set foot in Rio de Janerio he witnessed the brutality of slavery. Brazil is a melting pot of genetic diversity. All fossil and genetic evidence points that Africa is the home continent where modern Humans originated about 200 thousand years ago. As Humans spread and colonized new continents genetic diversity eroded gradually proportional to the distance away from Africa. Loss of genetic diversity was because of joint effects of two well understood genetic phenomena known as population bottleneck […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 3: The Last Frontier (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 3: The Last Frontier (2009)

    Fish are cold blooded animals and this property make them very efficient in terms of biomass accumulation. For this reason ecological trophic levels in aquatic systems can be much higher than terrestrial systems. The documentary film The End of the Line by Charles Clover mentioned in this episode draws attention to the problem of overfishing. About 400 million years ago, the Falkland Islands were part of the supercontinent of Gondwana, located between southern Africa and what is now Queen Maud […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 4: The Final Countdown (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 4: The Final Countdown (2009)

    “In the wake of Beagle” series brings back the adventure/science mix documentary programs reminiscent of those of Cousteau. Expeditions carried out on a ship and underwater filming was a signature in Cousteau’s filmmaking. This episode prepares the audience for the next episode filmed in the Galapagos Islands. Darwin developed his insight towards evolving species in that volcanic archipelago. Galapagos islands are largely affected by long-term seasonal fluctuations that known as El Nino/La Nina cycle. A few events Darwin witnessed in […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 6: Toolbox of Survival (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 6: Toolbox of Survival (2009)

    In Australia the arrival of Europeans profoundly effected the biology of the continent through introduction of non-native species that are reproducing and invading at an unprecedented rate. Australian biologists call it “extinction calamity” since the continent has lost one in ten of its native mammals species in the past 200 years. The effects of climate change is also evident with severe droughts and wild fires. A large fraction of Australian vegetation is serotinous that is adapted to disperse their seeds […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 7: Adapt or Die! (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 7: Adapt or Die! (2009)

    In this leg of the journey in Australia the theme “On the Future of Species” dominates the episode. Darwin absolutely had no clue on how genetic information from parents were transmitted to the offspring and he was perfectly aware of his situation. On the other hand, while he was writing his book battling with hereditary questions, an Augustinian friar with a scientific mind was carrying out his experimental crosses in a monastery which was going to lay the foundations of […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 8: The Ruins of Progress (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 8: The Ruins of Progress (2009)

    In this last episode of the series the crew of Stad Amsterdam visits Mauritius island before making a final stop in South Africa where the journey of modern Human ancestors began 200 thousand years ago. San culture in South Africa is the most ancestral Human population finding Like many island ecosystems Mauritius has been impacted by introduced species such as macaques. Species evolved on island systems are more prone to extinction. The flightless bird the Dodo is the icon of […]

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  • Great Transitions: The Origin of Humans – Rob Whittlesey – HHMI (2014)

    Great Transitions: The Origin of Humans – Rob Whittlesey – HHMI (2014)

    What did the common ancestor of Humans and chimpanzees looked like? This is not something we can triangulate simply by looking at a modern chimpanzee and Human. All the evidence points that Africa is the home continent for primates. Paleontologists are working hard to find the fossils that help us understand the key stages in Human evolution. Molecular genetic analysis of modern Human and chimpanzee revealed a very high degree of similarity. Through DNA hybridization experiments it was estimated that […]

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  • Human Bot Fly – Piotr Naskrecki (2015)

    Human Bot Fly – Piotr Naskrecki (2015)

    Piotr Naskrecki achieved what many tropical biologists (including the author of this post) tried but failed multiple times: raising a tropical Human bot fly (Dermatobia hominis). This parasite is frequently covered by major TV channels since it is quite gruesome to the unititiated and most certainly attracts viewers. In my opinion this is the best bot fly documentary ever. In the video Dr. Naskrecki outlines the life cycle very well with the calmness of an entomologist without drama. You can […]

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