In 1993, a strange disease began to kill people in the Four Corners area of the Southwest near the Navajo Reservation. Before it was all over, 26 people were dead. The disease was traced to a group of viruses called Hanta viruses. Western interest in this group of viruses dates to the 1950s and the Korean War, where it infected UN troops. However some researchers believe it is endemic to the U.S. Producer Ann Finkbeiner travels to the region and talk with scientists, doctors and Navajo medicine men.
Much of the U.S. and international space program in the early years looked at the biomedical consequences of space travel on the human body. Bone loss, muscular atrophy and the impact on the cardiovascular system were of special concern as astronauts came and went from outer space. Then researchers began to make connections between the impact of extreme conditions and natural aging here on Earth.
Tens of thousands of inmates are locked up in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons today. And the number is rapidly growing. Often prisoners spend years — even decades — by themselves in a cell the size of a small bathroom. They don't see anyone. They don't talk to anyone. They don't touch anyone. What does this experience do to a person's mental health? Producer Claire Schoen shows us what solitary confinement looks, sounds and feels like.
In hindsight, Apollo 11's trip to the moon seems inevitable. But it was, in fact, an incredibly bumpy ride. This is not a story about mechanical failures or the scientific and engineering challenges — which were enormous. This is the other story of the Apollo program. Producer Richard Paul tells of the seven-year battle to balance politics and priorities inside the Capitol Beltway to land an American on the moon.
Anyone sending a space shuttle into orbit, building a skyscraper, or even studying bone density owes a debt of gratitude to Isaac Newton and his theory of gravitation and laws of motion. Yet, the role of gravity in life’s processes, from cell structure to the human cardiovascular system remains unclear. Judith Kampfner explores the enigma force by starting in an eight grade science class, following a high school physics class as they perform some experiments on NASA’s vomit comet.
In August 2003, Europe suffered the worst heat wave in at least 500 years. Forest fires raged in much of southern Europe, themselves causing deaths. Crops withered and trees died. One of the cities hit hardest was Paris. Although the high heat started in early August, it was nearly mid-month, after hundreds of people had been killed, before the French government recognized that the heat wave had turned deadly in Paris.
Maurice “Peanut” King was a successful drug dealer in East Baltimore and a transitional figure in the drug trade. He bridged the world of the old school gangsters and the kid gangstas of today. He was the first to recruit children to work for him — ten-, eleven- and twelve-year-olds equipped with mopeds. After the addict gave his money to the “corner man,” one of Peanut’s kids would speed by and toss him the drugs.
Surrealist Andre Breton called the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo "a bomb with a ribbon around it." The epic work of muralist Diego Rivera, to whom she was married, often overshadowed its miniature detail. Kahlo said she simply painted her life.
Just two hours south of the Grand Canyon, the scenic remote village of Sedona, Arizona, has gone from being an isolated haven for visual artists and retirees to a bustling center of New Age activity. Sedona is now home to an increasing number of young seekers who claim that the land has powerful healing energies. The population has doubled in recent times and longtime residents and local Native tribes, members are concerned about the destruction of the land and the removal of sacred artifacts from the ruins.
An intimate emotional portrait of three families who have chosen to forego the funeral director and proscribed memorial and instead care for their dead in their own homes. Producer April Dembosky introduces us to people taking matters into their own hands: washing and dressing the bodies of their loved ones, building coffins, digging graves, and keeping their loved ones closer to home.
The road from children’s simple religious training to adult practice is rarely straight. When confronted with contradictions, or complex issues, the religious adult is often faced with a bend in the road, a more nuanced response to a tenet of faith. Three prominent religious leaders share a time in their life when they were able to reconcile divisions among faiths.
Some call him the father of modern plant genetics, a direct descendent of Darwin, Linnaeus, and Mendel. He shook the world with his concept of biodiversity. He amassed the largest collection of seeds, some 250,000 collections from all over the world, and when he died in 1943, his theories had transformed not only genetics, but botany, agronomy, geography, and anthropology. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov was a Russian geneticist who pioneered what now seems like a very obvious theory.
Between the mid-seventies and the early nineteen-nineties, Paul Erasmus was a secret police official in South Africa. His unit was responsible for what he calls dirty tricks, which included arson, sabotage, theft, discrediting people, illegal phone tapping, and firebombing. Then, before apartheid ended, he went in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to confess to 500 offenses and 80 serious crimes and was granted partial amnesty in 2000.
It was a year of upsets. 1948 the Democratic party faced extraordinary challenges: how to forge an alliance between Southern conservatives, Western progressives and big city labor; how to incorporate a civil rights plank; how to quell the rise of a third party. Republicans gathered for their convention, confident the party would capture the White House.
Around the world there is topless bathing but it is rare in this country. Yet one in four Americans admit to having skinny dipped. Is it hypocritical, a holdover from Puritan beginnings, or something more deep-seated? At the end of summer, before the chill winds blow, Producer Judith Kampfner visits a public nude beach in Miami, Florida and a private naturist camp not far outside New York and yes, complies with the no clothes rule. Baring all may mean feeling vulnerable and stupid.
When you lower a bucket into the ocean, you expect to pull-up - water. Perhaps some seaweed or a fish or two. It‘s what you can’t see in that bucket that’s the most intriguing to scientists. Every teaspoonful of that water can contain a hundred-million tiny viruses. Producer Judith Kampfner travels from the coast of Plymouth in England to California to meet with some of the intrepid pioneers who are on the trail of these new natural marvels.
On the night of April 14th 1865, in front of a thousand people at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Shouting ‘Sic semper tyrannis’ – ‘thus always to tyrants’, Booth believed that he was striking down a tyrant as surely as Brutus struck down Julius Caesar. Twelve days later Booth himself was shot dead in a barn in Virginia. From the moment Booth shot Lincoln, conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination have flourished.
How is suffering, either of personal or historical significance, measured? How does one move beyond the desire for vengeance? These questions are complicated by historical record; how did events really unfold? For Israelis and Palestinians, one land has two histories, and which version you accept depends on who you are. Tragedy is still fresh in the memories of both sides, complicating the peace process.
FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) is feared among farmers. It decimates herds and severely impacts beef and milk production. Award winning producer Judith Kampfner looks at FMD control measures around the world. In Britain, she revisits an outbreak in 2001, which led to mass cattle killings. Virologist Jef Hammond, head of the FMD Reference Laboratory at the U.K.’s Institute for Animal Health lays out the risks.
During the International Geophysical Year (IGY), in the late 1950's, teams of scientists poured in Antarctica, mining for data: about the weather, the climate and most especially, about the ice. Producer Barbara Bogaev talks to some of the men who were there.