The Mind of the Universe | VideoNeat

archaeology / paleontology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, Documentaries, geology, maths / physics, medicine, technology

The Mind of the Universe

YEAR: 2017 | LENGTH: 10 parts (45 minutes each)


The Mind of the Universe is an international tv series and open source digital platform about the rapid evolution of our knowledge. It explores the human destiny and the world of tomorrow through the eyes of great minds from all continents all over the globe.

The Mind of the Universe is a unique and unprecedented open source project in its scope and intention to provide all raw footage for free to everyone interested in learning and knowledge.

The interviews were produced in 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Dutch public broadcaster VPRO for a tv series featuring Robbert Dijkgraaf. The project was made possible by NPO. – source

01. the creator

Creating is a deed that captivates minds. Today, we are better creators than ever before. We will see how we can play with conditions for creating life, make anything we can think of with the code of life itself, and replace parts of our body.

Will science render us creators in the primordial sense of the word?

02. the conqueror

Humankind conquered the world, in order to survive, and conquers his fellow humans with new ideas. We will see how we as a species have conquered the earth, how we still compete with viruses, and how quantum theory conquers China.

How are conquests and science connected?

03. the maker

The maker grasps humankind as builders. We make new constructions with building blocks from nature, which we manipulate at the same time. We will see how that leads us to new materials, new connections between people and new bursts of creativity.

Will we be able to build everything we wish for?

04. the explorer

The explorer peers beyond our known borders and discloses the unknown. We will get a glimpse of the secrets of life, both on earth and elsewhere in the universe, and zoom in on the peculiar history of our own planet.

What are the borders yet to cross?

05. the illusionist

As humans, we construct our view of reality from the input provided by our senses. How does that work? And how can we make a robot experience something similar?

What would the world be like with human minds and artificial ones living together?

06. the dreamer

It is through our wildest dreams that we achieve new knowledge. We see dreams of feeding the world with insects, dreams of a synthesis of the fundamental theories of physics, and dreams of our future as extraterrestrials.

What if science renders the unimaginable imaginable?

07. the searcher

We keep expanding our knowledge, and sometimes we know exactly what we are looking for. Patterns in apparent chaos, new elements or a key for translating old and forgotten languages.

We are sure they exist. But how can we find them?

08. the player

Humans and animals play and this renders them familiar with their environments. We zoom in on scientists who combine play and mathematics, and see how playing with matter yields new materials with special properties.

How are humans as players related to science?

09. the thinker

Our brains are constantly aware of our place in reality. How does this work for animals? Does an objective reality even exist, and does it leave any room for something like god?

Where will our thinking lead us?

10. the connector

Humankind, society and technology are dramatically influenced by science. In this episode we connect all the knowledge of The Mind of the Universe in an overarching outlook on the future.

What is the future of humanity, society, and knowledge?

Documentaries, society

Is Tourism Harming Venice?

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 2 parts (42 minutes each)

DESCRIPTION: Venice is threatened by mass tourism. Some 30 million visitors a year come to the city in Italy, making their way through the narrow streets. With an infrastructure more and more tailored to the needs of tourism, the city’s remaining residents feel left behind. During high season an influx of up to 130 thousand tourists a day means the city authorities have scant resources to cater for the more mundane needs of residents. A constant flotilla of small boats ferry passengers between city landing stages and giant cruise liners moored in the lagoon. Air quality in Venice is often worse than busy city centers. Within the last generation the number of residents has dropped by nearly a third. The Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square have become the main attractions in this Venetian Theme park providing locals with jobs in the tourist sector, but little else. Rents are sky high, Airbnb rules the roost. More and more historical buildings have been taken over by hotels. Shops, bars and restaurant cater almost exclusively to tourists. But residents are fighting back and now there are over 30 local initiatives trying to stem the tides of mass tourism. – source

Documentaries, society

The Facebook Dilemma

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 2 parts (55 minutes each)

DESCRIPTION: The promise of Facebook was to create a more open and connected world. But from the company’s failure to protect millions of users’ data, to the proliferation of “fake news” and disinformation, mounting crises have raised the question: Is Facebook more harmful than helpful? This major, two-night event investigates a series of warnings to Facebook as the company grew from Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to a global empire. With dozens of original interviews and rare footage, The Facebook Dilemma examines the powerful social media platform’s impact on privacy and democracy in the U.S. and around the world. – source

Documentaries, society

Beauty’s New Normal

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 1 part (44 minutes)

DESCRIPTION: “Hi guys! So this is my boob job vlog, I’m sooo excited! This is how you choose your breast size!” YouTube star

Welcome to the new world of enhanced “beauty” where there’s nothing natural about the faces and bodies created by cosmetic procedures.

Fuelled by social media influencers on Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, cosmetic surgery has entered the mainstream.

“What I’m finding is, instead of hiding it, like they would have a few years ago, most people are kind of flaunting it…I’ve had my lips done, I’ve had my cheeks done. I’ve had a little bit in my jaw.” Social media influencer

The “Insta Effect” of social media has seen growing numbers of young women choosing to alter their appearance, as though it’s as simple as buying a new set of clothes.

“The problem I get is that people perceive a cosmetic procedure to have limited or no risk and only upside, and that’s not the case.” Surgeon

Doctors offering cosmetic surgery are becoming social media stars in their own right and it’s redefining the meaning of their doctor/patient relations.

“They write to you… ‘Look, here’s my Insta page, I’ve got this many loyal followers. If you perform surgery for me, I will promote you on my page.'” Surgeon

From dermal fillers and Botox, to butt lifts and breast implants, women are undergoing treatments that could change their lives forever, and not in the ways they were expecting.

“It looked deformed. It was sitting way higher than the other one. It was very out of shape.” Patient

Reporter Louise Milligan has uncovered cases of women left disfigured and in pain, struggling to find the money to afford corrective surgery to give them back their dignity.

Underpinning the growth in the industry is a business model targeting women who can barely afford the procedures by selling the dream of a dream of a “new you”.

“It was all about accessible surgery, advertising price point, that you can change your life for a coffee a day. You know, someone who has low self-esteem, who has low confidence, especially after going through a divorce or being on a single parenting pension.”

As this investigation shows, when things go wrong, the physical and financial costs are devastating.

“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t do anything but sit there and cry in agony because it got to the point where it was so bad.” Patient

Doctors left to pick up the pieces are warning that the booming industry is creating a dangerous legacy.

“It scares me. This is a big problem. And it’s going to get bigger.” Surgeon – source

Documentaries, nature

South Korea: Earth’s Hidden Wilderness

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 1 part (58 minutes)

DESCRIPTION: Once a mountain kingdom of ancient palaces and emperors, Korea in the 21st century is largely known for its modern cities and decades of conflict. Tensions between North and South may be what defines it to outsiders but beyond the battle scars there is another side. In the south are large pockets of untouched wilderness where extraordinary animals flourish and Koreans continue to practise age-old traditions in tandem with the seasons and with nature. It is in these connections, rather than in division, that we see the true Korea.

At the southernmost tip of the peninsular we follow a pod of bottlenose dolphins through the volcanic islands of Jeju. They click at each other as they encounter a human in their midst, but the dolphins know this diver – they have shared the ocean with the Haenyeo, or sea women, for thousands of years. We travel to the isolated island of Marado, where three generations of sea women are preparing for a dive. Today is the start of the conch season, and they work whatever the weather to maximise their catch.

In the grounds of an ancient palace on the mainland, a raccoon dog family takes advantage of a rare event. Once every five years, hundreds of cicadas emerge providing a feast for the raccoon. Those that escape make for the safety of the trees, where they metamorphosise into their flying form.

On the mud flats of Suncheon Bay we find a habitat that is neither land nor sea. Only recently has the ecological value of mudflats been recognised. A staggering 50 per cent of the earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton – microscopic algae that are found here in abundance. That is why the mudflats are known locally as the lungs of the earth. Plankton is far from the only life here – the mud of the bay is rich in nutrients and supports one of the most diverse ecosystems on the peninsula. We follow the story of a young mudskipper who has emerged for his first mating season. – source

biology, Documentaries, society

RACE: The Power Of An Illusion

YEAR: 2003 | LENGTH: 3 parts (60 minutes each)

DESCRIPTION: Race is one topic where we all think we’re experts. Yet ask 10 people to define race or name “the races,” and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. Few issues are characterized by more contradictory assumptions and myths, each voiced with absolute certainty.

In producing this series, we felt it was important to go back to first principles and ask, What is this thing called “race?” – a question so basic it is rarely raised. What we discovered is that most of our common assumptions about race – for instance, that the world’s people can be divided biologically along racial lines – are wrong. Yet the consequences of racism are very real.

How do we make sense of these two seeming contradictions? Our hope is that this series can help us all navigate through our myths and misconceptions, and scrutinize some of the assumptions we take for granted. In that sense, the real subject of the film is not so much race but the viewer, or more precisely, the notions about race we all hold.

We hope this series can help clear away the biological underbrush and leave starkly visible the underlying social, economic, and political conditions that disproportionately channel advantages and opportunities to white people. Perhaps then we can shift the conversation from discussing diversity and respecting cultural difference to building a more just and equitable society. – source

01. The Difference Between Us

Everyone can tell a Nubian from a Norwegian, so why not divide people into different races? That’s the question explored in “The Difference Between Us,” the first hour of the series. This episode shows that despite what we’ve always believed, the world’s peoples simply don’t come bundled into distinct biological groups. We begin by following a dozen students, including Black athletes and Asian string players, who sequence and compare their own DNA to see who is more genetically similar. The results surprise the students and the viewer, when they discover their closest genetic matches are as likely to be with people from other “races” as their own.

Much of the program is devoted to understanding why. We look at several scientific discoveries that illustrate why humans cannot be subdivided into races and how there isn’t a single characteristic, trait – or even one gene – that can be used to distinguish all members of one race from all members of another.


Modern humans – all of us – emerged in Africa about 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Bands of humans began migrating out of Africa only about 70,000 years ago. As we spread across the globe, populations continually bumped into one another and mixed their mates and genes. As a species, we’re simply too young and too intermixed to have evolved into separate races or subspecies.

So what about the obvious physical differences we see between people? A closer look helps us understand patterns of human variation:

In a virtual “walk” from the equator to northern Europe, we see that visual characteristics vary gradually and continuously from one population to the next. There are no boundaries, so how can we draw a line between where one race ends and another begins?
We also learn that most traits – whether skin color, hair texture or blood group – are influenced by separate genes and thus inherited independently one from the other. Having one trait does not necessarily imply the existence of others. Racial profiling is as inaccurate on the genetic level as it is on the New Jersey Turnpike.
We also learn that many of our visual characteristics, like different skin colors, appear to have evolved recently, after we left Africa, but the traits we care about – intelligence, musical ability, physical aptitude – are much older, and thus common to all populations. Geneticists have discovered that 85% of all genetic variants can be found within any local population, regardless of whether they’re Poles, Hmong or Fulani. Skin color really is only skin deep. Beneath the skin, we are one of the most similar of all species.

Certainly a few gene forms are more common in some populations than others, such as those controlling skin color and inherited diseases like Tay Sachs and sickle cell. But are these markers of “race?” They reflect ancestry, but as our DNA experiment shows us, that’s not the same thing as race. The mutation that causes sickle cell, we learn, was passed on because it conferred resistance to malaria. It is found among people whose ancestors came from parts of the world where malaria was common: central and western Africa, Turkey, India, Greece, Sicily and even Portugal – but not southern Africa.


We have a long history of searching for innate differences to explain disparities in group outcomes – not just for inherited diseases, but also SAT scores and athletic performance. In contrast to today’s myth of innate Black athletic superiority, a hundred years ago many whites felt that Black people were inherently sickly and destined to die out. That’s because disease and mortality rates were high among African Americans – the cause was poverty, poor sanitation, and Jim Crow segregation, but it was easier for most people to believe it was a result of “natural” infirmity, a view popularized by influential statistician Frederick Hoffman in his 1896 study, Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro.

Racial beliefs have always been tied to social ideas and policy. After all, if differences between groups are natural, then nothing can or should be done to correct for unequal outcomes. Scientific literature of the late 19th and early 20th century explicitly championed such a view, and many prominent scientists devoted countless hours to documenting racial differences and promoting man’s natural hierarchy.

Although today such ideas are outmoded, it is still popular to believe in innate racial traits rather than look elsewhere to explain group differences. We all know the myths and stereotypes – natural Black athletic superiority, musical ability among Asians – but are they really true on a biological level? If not, why do we continue to believe them? Race may not be biological, but it is still a powerful social idea with real consequences for people’s lives.

02. The Story We Tell

It’s true that race has always been with us, right? Wrong. Ancient peoples stigmatized “others” on the grounds of language, custom, class, and especially religion, but they did not sort people according to physical differences. It turns out that the concept of race is a recent invention, only a few hundred years old, and the history and evolution of the idea are deeply tied to the development of the U.S.

“The Story We Tell” traces the origins of the racial idea to the European conquest of the New World and to the American slave system – the first ever where all the slaves shared similar physical traits and a common ancestry. Historian James Horton points out that the enslavement of Africans was opportunistic, not based on beliefs about inferiority: “[Our forebears] found what they considered an endless labor supply. People who could be readily identified and so when they ran away they couldn’t melt into the population like Native Americans could. People who knew how to grow tobacco, people who knew how to grow rice. They found the ideal, from their standpoint, the ideal labor source.”

Ironically, it was not slavery but freedom – the revolutionary new idea of liberty and the natural rights of man – that led to an ideology of white supremacy. Historian Robin D.G. Kelley points out the conundrum that faced our founders: “The problem that they had to figure out is how can we promote liberty, freedom, democracy on the one hand, and a system of slavery and exploitation of people who are non-white on the other?” Horton illuminates the story that helped reconcile that contradiction: “And the way you do that is to say, ‘Yeah, but you know there is something different about these people. This whole business of inalienable rights, that’s fine, but it only applies to certain people.'” It was not a coincidence that the apostle of freedom himself, Thomas Jefferson, also a slaveholder, was the first American public figure to articulate a theory speculating upon the “natural” inferiority of Africans.

Similar logic rationalized the taking of American Indian lands. When the “civilized” Cherokee were forcibly removed from their homes in Georgia to west of the Mississippi, one in four died along the way, in what became known as The Trail of Tears. President Andrew Jackson defended Indian removal: it was not the greed of white settlers that drove the policy, but the inevitable fate of an inferior people established “in the midst of a superior race.”

By the mid-19th century, race had become the accepted, “common-sense” wisdom of white America, explaining everything from individual behavior to the fate of human societies. The idea found fruition in racial science, Manifest Destiny, and our imperial adventures abroad. In the new monthly magazines of the late 19th century and at the remarkable indigenous people displays at the 1904 World’s Fair celebrating the centennial of Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, we see how American popular culture reinforced and fueled racial explanations for American progress and power, imprinting ideas of racial difference and white superiority deeply into our minds.

“The Story We Tell” is an eye-opening tale of how deep social inequalities came to be rationalized as natural – deflecting attention from the social practices and public policies that benefited whites at the expense of others.

03. The House We Live In

If race doesn’t exist biologically, what is it? And why should it matter? Our final episode, “The House We Live In,” is the first film about race to focus not on individual attitudes and behavior but on the ways our institutions and policies advantage some groups at the expense of others. Its subject is the “unmarked” race: white people. We see how benefits quietly and often invisibly accrue to white people, not necessarily because of merit or hard work, but because of the racialized nature of our laws, courts, customs, and perhaps most pertinently, housing.

The film begins by looking at the massive immigration from eastern and southern Europe early in the 20th century. Italians, Hebrews, Greeks and other ethnics were considered by many to be separate races. Their “whiteness” had to be won. But who was white? The 1790 Naturalization Act had limited naturalized citizenship to “free, white persons.” Many new arrivals petitioned the courts to be legally designated white in order to gain citizenship. Armenians, known as “Asiatic Turks,” succeeded with the help of anthropologist Franz Boas, who testified on their behalf as an expert scientific witness.

In 1922, Takao Ozawa, a Japanese immigrant who had attended the University of California, also appealed the rejection of his citizenship application. He argued that his skin was physically white and that race shouldn’t matter for citizenship. The Supreme Court, however, decided that the Japanese were not legally white based on science, which classified them as Mongoloid rather than Caucasian. Less than a year later, in the case of United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, the court contradicted itself by concluding that Asian Indians were not legally white, even though science classified them as Caucasian. Refuting its own reasoning in Ozawa, the justices declared that whiteness should be based not on science, but on “the common understanding of the white man.”

Next we see how Italians, Jews and other European ethnics fared better, especially after World War II, when segregated suburbs like Levittown popped up around the country, built with the help of new federal policies and funding. Real estate practices and federal government regulations directed government-guaranteed loans to white homeowners and kept non-whites out, allowing those once previously considered “not quite white” to blend together and reap the advantages of whiteness, including the accumulation of equity and wealth as their homes increased in value. Those on the other side of the color line were denied the same opportunities for asset accumulation and upward mobility.

Today, the net worth of the average Black family is about 1/8 that of the average white family. Much of that difference derives from the value of the family’s residence. Houses in predominantly white areas sell for much more than those in Black, Hispanic or integrated neighborhoods, and so power, wealth, and advantage – or the lack of it – are passed down from parent to child. Wealth isn’t just luxury or profit; it’s the starting point for the next generation.

How does the wealth gap translate into performance differences? New studies reveal that when the “family wealth gap” between African Americans and whites is taken into account, there is no difference in test scores, graduation rates, welfare usage and other measures. It’s a lack of opportunities, not natural differences, that’s responsible for continuing inequality. Wealth, more than any other measure, shows the accumulated impact of past discrimination, and shapes your life chances.

“Colorblind” policies which ignore race only perpetuate these inequities. As Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, “To get beyond racism we must first take account of race. There is no other way.” As The House We Live In shows us, until we address the legacy of past discrimination and confront the historical meanings of race, the dream of equality will remain out of reach.

Documentaries, society

Bigger Stronger Faster

YEAR: 2008 | LENGTH: 1 part (107 minutes)

DESCRIPTION: Bigger, Stronger, Faster* is a 2008 documentary film directed by Christopher Bell, about the use of anabolic steroids as performance-enhancing drugs in the United States and how this practice relates to the American Dream. The film had its world premiere on January 19, 2008 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The film was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2008, and opened in limited release in the United States on May 30, 2008.

The documentary examines the steroid use of director Christopher Bell’s two brothers, Smelly and Mad Dog, who all grew up idolizing Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone, and also features professional athletes, medical experts, fitness center members, and US Congressmen talking about the issue of anabolic steroids.[5]

Beyond the basic issue of anabolic steroid use, Bigger, Stronger, Faster* examines the lack of consistency in how the US views drugs, cheating, and the lengths people go to achieve success. The film looks beyond the steroid issue to such topics as Tiger Woods’ laser eye correction to 20/15 vision, professional musicians use of blood pressure reducing drugs, or athletes’ dependence on cortisone shots, which are a legal steroid. It takes a skeptical view of the health risks of steroids and is critical of the legal health supplement industry.

Christopher Bell on steroid regulation: “If you look at all the laws in our country, and at how and why things get banned, they don’t actually fit into that category: They’re not addictive, they don’t actually kill people. I don’t condone the stuff, but after three years of researching this, it seems like we should take another look.” – source

Documentaries, nature

David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest in Colour

YEAR: 2016 | LENGTH: 1 part (90 minutes)

DESCRIPTION: Thanks to a remarkable discovery in the BBC’s film vaults, the best of David Attenborough’s early Zoo Quest adventures can now be seen as never before, in colour, and with it the remarkable story of how this pioneering television series was made.

First broadcast in December 1954, Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough as a wildlife presenter. It completely changed how viewers saw the world, revealing wildlife and tribal communities that had never been filmed or even seen before.

Broadcast ten years before colour television was seen in the UK, Zoo Quest was thought to have been filmed in black and white, until now. Using this extraordinary new-found colour film, together with new behind-the-scenes stories from David Attenborough and cameraman Charles Lagus, this special showcases the very best of Zoo Quest to West Africa, Zoo Quest to Guiana and Zoo Q – source

archaeology / paleontology, Documentaries

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)

DESCRIPTION:  The Day the Dinosaurs Died investigates the greatest vanishing act in the history of our planet – the sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Experts suspect that the dinosaurs were wiped out after a city-sized asteroid smashed into the Gulf of Mexico causing a huge crater. But until now, they haven’t had any proof. In a world first, evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod joins a multimillion-pound drilling expedition into the exact spot the asteroid hit to get hard evidence of the link. The team overcomes huge obstacles as it attempts to drill 1,500 metres beneath sea level to pull up rock from the Chicxulub crater.

Meanwhile, paleopathologist Professor Alice Roberts travels the globe meeting top scientists and gaining exclusive access to a mass fossil graveyard in New Jersey – believed to date from the same time the asteroid hit. Alice also treks by horseback across the remote plains of Patagonia, to see if the effects of the asteroid impact could have wiped out dinosaurs across the world – almost immediately.

Alice and Ben’s investigations reveal startling new evidence of a link between the asteroid and the death of the dinosaurs, presenting a vivid picture of the most dramatic 24 hours in our planet’s history. They illustrate what happened in the seconds and hours after the impact, revealing that had the huge asteroid struck the Earth a moment earlier, or later, the destruction might not have been total for the dinosaurs. And if they still roamed the world, we humans may never have come to rule the planet. – source

Documentaries, medicine, nature, society

Icebound: The Greatest Dog Story Ever Told

YEAR: 2015 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)

DESCRIPTION:  Documentary about an adventure that has become known as the greatest dog story ever told and captured the imagination of children and adults throughout the world for almost a century.

On January 28 1925, newspapers and radio stations broke a terrifying story – diphtheria had broken out in Nome, Alaska, a city separated from the rest of the world for seven months by a frozen ocean. With aviation still in its infancy and amidst one of the harshest winters on record, there was only one way to reach the town – dogsled. In minus 60 degrees, over 20 men and at least 150 dogs, among them the famous Balto, set out to relay the antitoxin across 674 miles of Alaskan wilderness to save the town. – source

archaeology / paleontology, Documentaries

Attenborough and the Sea Dragon

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)

DESCRIPTION: A remarkable 200-million-year-old fossil – the bones of an ichthyosaur, a giant sea dragon – has been discovered on the Jurassic coast of Britain. David Attenborough joins the hunt to bring this ancient creature’s story to life. Using state-of-the-art imaging technology and CGI, the team reconstruct the skeleton and create the most detailed animation of an ichthyosaur ever made. Along the way, the team stumble into a 200-million-year-old murder mystery – and only painstaking forensic investigation can unravel the story of this extraordinary creature’s fate. – source

chemistry, Documentaries

The Genius of Marie Curie

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)

DESCRIPTION: Over 80 years after her death, Marie Curie remains by far the best-known female scientist. In her lifetime, she became that rare thing – a celebrity scientist, attracting the attention of the news cameras and tabloid gossip. They were fascinated because she was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and is still the only person to have won two Nobels in two different sciences. But while the bare bones of her scientific life, the obstacles she had to overcome, the years of painstaking research and the penalty she ultimately paid for her discovery of radium have become one of the iconic stories of scientific heroism, there is another side to Marie Curie – her human story.

This multi-layered film reveals the real Marie Curie, an extraordinary woman who fell in love three times, had to survive the pain of loss, and the public humiliation of a doomed love affair. It is a riveting portrait of a tenacious mother and scientist, who opened the door on a whole new realm of physics, which she discovered and named – radioactivity. – source