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A Trip to Infinity

   2022    Science
Does Infinity exist? Can we experience the Infinite? In an animated film created by artists from 10 countries, the world's most cutting-edge scientists and thinkers go in search of the infinite and its mind-bending implications for the universe.
It doesn’t behave like we’re used to. It’s a monster that needs to be tamed. It creates and destroys mathematicians. It’s infinity! You know, the thing that goes on and on and on and never ends. Here we have theoretical physicists, mathematicians, philosophers, theoretical cosmologists talking about infinity – what it is, how it works, where we can find it, etc., and their concepts and explanations are illustrated by a variety of nifty animations in a variety of visual styles ranging from literal to metaphorical.
Directors Jonathan Halperin and Drew Takahashi solicit experts to help them tackle the most maximal topic in the history of everything from a few different angles. Y when you think about it for a second, the only possible conclusion one can arrive at is a sublime and confounding realization that, on a cosmic scale, humans are naught but grand ignoramuses.

M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity

   2021    Art
Explore the intriguing world of M.C. Escher in this captivating documentary, which delves deep into his life and artistic journey through his own words. Narrated with excerpts from his writings, the film is visually enriched with archival footage of Escher himself and showcases his iconic drawings. Gain unique insights from interviews with his surviving family members who illuminate aspects of his personal and professional life.
Escher, who often described his work as straddling the realms of art and mathematics, admitted to not excelling in either yet found profound expression in geometry-infused art. Choosing to work in stark black and white, he embraced the challenge of conveying complex ideas without the use of color. The film explores pivotal phases in his career, including his mesmerizing explorations of the human eye and his ultimate obsession with the concept of infinity—depicted in real forms like circles and through visual illusions such as his famous never-ending staircase.
The documentary also features perspectives from admirers such as musician Graham Nash, who argues that Escher's genius remains underappreciated. This film promises not only to shed light on Escher’s innovative work but also to inspire a deeper appreciation for his unique blend of visual storytelling and mathematical precision.

Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing

The Joy of Winning

   2019    Science
Dr. Hannah Fry takes us on a whistle-stop tour around the mathematics of success, to help us understand how to get more of what we want in our own lives. From the best way to bag a budget dinner or keep the kids quiet, to averting nuclear Armageddon and negotiating global climate change agreements.

Prediction By The Numbers

   2018    Science
Predictions underlie nearly every aspect of our lives, from sports, politics, and medical decisions to the morning commute. With the explosion of digital technology, the internet, and 'big data,' the science of forecasting is flourishing. But why do some predictions succeed spectacularly while others fail abysmally? And how can we find meaningful patterns amidst chaos and uncertainty? From the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election, 'Prediction by the Numbers' explores stories of statistics in action. Yet advances in machine learning and big data models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions. How much should we trust predictions made by algorithms when we don't understand how they arrive at them? And how far ahead can we really forecast?

Numbers as God

   2018    Science
Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry explores the mystery of maths. It underpins so much of our modern world that it's hard to imagine life without its technological advances, but where exactly does maths come from? Is it invented like a language or is it something discovered and part of the fabric of the universe? It's a question that some of the most eminent mathematical minds have been wrestling with. To investigate this question, Hannah goes head first down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's law of gravity, she paraglides to understand where the theory of maths and its practice application collide, and she travels to infinity and beyond to discover that some infinities are bigger than others.
In this episode, Hannah goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks to find out why they were so fascinated by the connection between beautiful music and maths. The patterns our ancestors found in music are all around us, from the way a sunflower stores its seeds to the number of petals in a flower. Even the shapes of some of the smallest structures in nature, such as viruses, seem to follow the rules of maths. All strong evidence for maths being discovered. But there are those who claim maths is all in our heads and something we invented. To find out if this is true, Hannah has her brain scanned. It turns out there is a place in all our brains where we do maths, but that doesn't prove its invented.
Experiments with infants, who have never had a maths lesson in their lives, suggests we all come hardwired to do maths. Far from being a creation of the human mind, this is evidence for maths being something we discover. Then along comes the invention of zero to help make counting more convenient and the creation of imaginary numbers, and the balance is tilted in the direction of maths being something we invented. The question of whether maths is invented or discovered just got a whole lot more difficult to answer
Series: Magic Numbers