Polar Bear – Spy on the Ice

This is a brilliant highlight reel from John Downer Productions’ work done for the BBC’s Animal Planet. The photography is incredible as is the music soundtrack. Zoom it out, the images are well worth it.

John Downer Productions is a media company specialising in wildlife television, feature films and commercials. It has won numerous international awards for its innovative approach to filmmaking. It made its name by abandoning the traditional style of nature documentary and pioneering a highly inventive subjective approach. Through the use of new dramatic techniques it was possible, for the first time, to plunge the audience into the animal world.

More information on the full piece and the cameras used can be found here: Polar Bear – Spy on the Ice. Find lots of other fantastic pieced by this excellent media company here: John Downer Productions: Programmes.

Check out the fantastic behind the scenes video toward the bottom of this page: Earthflight (behind the scenes). Zoom it out, its well worth it.


The cult of TED

The cult of TED

Excellent BBC News magazine piece on the TED Conference.

Many people think TED is an elitist organization: it’s expensive to attend, one must apply, not just pay, no questions during lectures, and all the lectures are available online for free which means attending isn’t necessarily about the lectures.

Maybe attending is as much about networking with the kinds of folks who are admitted to TED conferences as it is about hearing the lectures live.

It may be that TED is elitist but sometimes it takes making an event like this exclusive to filter out the chaff. The question is, does filtering amplify and support only one prevailing viewpoint, making the conference an exercise in intellectual eugenics. There may be strands of this in Chris Anderson’s script for deciding which ideas are worth spreading and which are not, but so far, as a fan of TED I have to say that almost every time I watch a TED talk I’m stimulated and inspired.

[via Jon Moss]

BBC Travel Photographer of the Year

Global views – lives and landscapes

From the hot and humid rain forests of South America and the Far East, to the cold and inhospitable arctic regions of northern Canada and Russia – the Travel Photographer of the Year competition attracts stunning image entries from across the world.

Spectacular images, well put together slide show.

[via Gary Sharp]

Richard Feynman – No Ordinary Genius

This was and is a great documentary. The entire thing is now available on YouTube and its great to see. I have this on DVD but I’m delighted that a wider audience will get to see this. Feynman wasn’t just a genius, he was a “character” who played bongo drums, talked about the interaction of art and science, and solved the mystery of why the Shuttle Challenger went down by dipping a piece of O ring in ice water.


Weaving the way to the Moon

Weaving the way to the Moon

The BBC has put together a great back story on the building and programming of the computer aboard Apollo 11 that guided and controlled the trip to and from the moon. The video interviews are amazing as is the entire story.

Programming the computer, doing navigation with the sextant, and wrapping the “rope cores.” Gad. It was an amazing feat but given this piece of the technology it was even more amazing. Building an iPhone app looks like child’s play compared to this stuff.

However, the entire computer was not so hi-tech. In order to make sure that the software was robust it was “woven” into so-called “rope core memories”.

These used copper wires threaded through or around tiny magnetic cores to produce the ones and zeroes of binary code at the heart of the software.

Pass the copper wire through the core and the computer read it as a one. Pass it around and it was read as a zero.

“Once you get it wired it’s not going to change without breaking those wires,” said Mr Hall. The rope core memories would become know as “LOL memory” after the “little old ladies” who knitted together the software at a factory just outside Boston.

These ladies would sit in pairs with a memory unit between them, threading metres and metres of slender copper wires through and around the cores.