The Best Episodes of Horizon

#1 - Global Dimming

Season 2005 - Episode 1

Horizon producer David Sington on why predictions about the Earth's climate will need to be re-examined.


#2 - Bread

Season 1969 - Episode 35

Horizon explores the problem of feeding the growing world population.


#3 - Why Are Thin People Not Fat?

Season 2009 - Episode 1

The world is affected by an obesity epidemic, but why is it that not everyone is succumbing? Medical science has been obsessed with this subject and is coming up with some unexpected answers. As it turns out, it is not all about exercise and diet. At the centre of this programme is a controversial overeating experiment that aims to identify exactly what it is about some people that makes it hard for them to bulk up.

Directors: Emma Sutton

#4 - The Mystery of the Miami Circle

Season 2001 - Episode 1

Builders in Miami, Florida unearth a ring of holes. The State then pays $27million to preserve either a Native American village or remnants of a 1950s sewerage system.


#5 - Playing God

Season 2012 - Episode 1

Adam Rutherford meets a new creature created by American scientists, the spider-goat. It is part goat, part spider, and its milk can be used to create artificial spider's web. It is part of a new field of research, synthetic biology, with a radical aim: to break down nature into spare parts so that we can rebuild it however we please. This technology is already being used to make bio-diesel to power cars. Other researchers are looking at how we might, one day, control human emotions by sending 'biological machines' into our brains.

Directors: Matthew Dyas

#6 - Space Tourists

Season 2006 - Episode 1

Is a space tourism revolution just around the corner?


#7 - From Here to Infinity

Season 1999 - Episode 1

Horizon follows the hunt for the most distant star ever seen.


#8 - Breath of Life

Season 2000 - Episode 1

In this moving film Horizon follows the Loughran family in their fight to save the life of their daughter Sheila who suffers from cystic fibrosis. They lost their youngest daughter Ann to the disease in 1974 at the age of 15, and now as the health of their third daughter Sheila deteriorates, they must face the prospect of losing a second child. The current shortage of donor organs means that Sheila's only hope of survival is a rare and controversial operation that requires her two surviving siblings to undergo an arduous and potentially fatal operation. An X-ray of Shelia's lungs Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common genetic disease in this country and it is incurable. The lungs of people with cystic fibrosis become covered with a sticky mucus making them extremely susceptible to bacterial infection. Over time these infections badly scar the lungs, until eventually they stop functioning. The defective CF gene is harmless when only a single copy of the gene is inherited. However, both the Loughran parents carry the gene, giving any child they may have a 25% chance of being born with cystic fibrosis. In fact two of their four children were born with the condition. Horizon joins the family at a time when Sheila's health has deteriorated to such an extent that she requires oxygen 24 hours a day and has only months to live. Although on the waiting list for a donor lung, with 50% of patients dying while waiting to receive a transplant, Sheila's chances are not good. The family has become aware of a controversial new operation, pioneered in the UK by Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub at Harefield Hospital. The technique, known as Living Donor Lung Transplantation, would involve removing Sheila's diseased lungs and, in an extraordinary three-way operation, replacing them with a lobe from one of the lungs of each her two siblings. There have been six of these groundbreaking operations carried out in this country. However, only three patients have lived longer than a month. There is a clear moral dilemma - with such a low success rate, is it ethical to put the lives of two healthy people at risk? Even if the operation is initially successful it may only give Sheila five more years to live, by which time her new lungs are likely to fail again. Damian Loughran Sheila's brother and sister, Damian and Josephine, feel compelled to do anything they can to save their dying sister. They undergo stringent tests before being certain that they are compatible donors and fit for surgery. They will have to face the risk of haemorrhaging and infection, both of which could potentially be fatal. After the operation both donors will be left with a 20-25% permanent loss of lung function. Despite these dangers, Damian and Josephine remain determined to proceed. As all three of their children are wheeled in for the 12-hour operation, Mary and Harry Loughran's emotion is apparent. A day later, Sheila is breathing with her new lungs, but it is not long before complications arise. She is unable to absorb food and develops an abscess on her lung. Sheila is kept under sedation and so is unaware of these complications. Sadly, three weeks after the operation, Sheila loses her fight for life.


#9 - The World of Buckminster Fuller

Season 1964 - Episode 1

Horizon follows the work of R. Buckminster Fuller and his research of the geodesic dome.


#10 - Windows of the Soul

Season 1966 - Episode 1

Horizon follows experiments on the eyes being undertaken at the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. The purpose of the experiments are to discover if our eyes can tell us things we might prefer to keep secret. Also: Elixir of Youth - In Rumania, more than forty thousand people have been given gerovital H3, in the belief that it will make them younger, by Dr. Ana Aslan Dr. Alex Comfort comments on a film about this mass experiment


#11 - An Ingenious Man - Sir H. John Baker

Season 1968 - Episode 1

Horizon reports on Prof. Sir John Baker who is a distinguished British engineer, tracing his career beginning from his early work on airships.


#12 - My Pet Dinosaur

Season 2007 - Episode 1

What if dinosaurs were still alive today? Would we hunt them, farm them - or even keep them as pets? It's a palaeontologist's dream: the chance to live in a world where dinosaurs are not something to be dug out of the ground but are living among us. It may sound far-fetched but dinosaurs were actually rather unlucky. The meteorite impact that doomed them to extinction was an event with a probability of millions to one. What if the meteorite had missed? Had dinosaurs survived, the world today would be very different. If humans managed to survive alongside them, we wouldn't have the company of most, if not all, of the mammals with which we are familiar today. Giraffes, elephants and other mammals wouldn't have had space to evolve. Would we be hunting Hadrosaurs instead of elk? Or farming Protoceratops instead of pigs? Would dinosaurs be kept as pets? And could the brighter dinosaurs have evolved into something humanoid?


#13 - Psychedelic Science

Season 1997 - Episode 1

Horizon reports on the resurgence in research on psychedelic drugs in the 1990's.


#14 - Colourful Notions

Season 1985 - Episode 1

Documentary about colour perception based on the theories of Dr. Edwin Land, which oppose the long-held three-receptor theory of colour vision


#15 - The Mystery Of Easter Island

Season 2003 - Episode 1

On Easter Day 1722, Dutch explorers landed on Easter Island. A civilisation isolated by 4,000km of Pacific Ocean was about to meet the outside world for the first time in centuries. The strangers were about to find something very strange themselves - an island dotted with hundreds of huge stone statues and a society that was not as primitive as they expected. The first meeting was an immense clash of cultures. (Bloody too: the sailors killed ten natives within minutes of landing.) Where had the Islanders originally come from? Why and how had they built the figures? Modern science is piecing together the story, but it is far too late for the Easter Islanders themselves. They were virtually wiped out by a series of disasters - natural and man made - that brought a population of 12,000 down to just 111 in a few centuries. The Island's inhabitants today all have Chilean roots, making solving the mysteries even harder. There is no one to ask about the first people of Easter Island. Although fragmentary legends have been passed down, only science can hope to explain the rise and fall of this unusual civilisation.


#16 - The Twentyfive Hour Clock

Season 1987 - Episode 1

Report on research into biological body clocks, which can effect emotional and physical health and well-being.


#17 - Wildlife - The Last Great Battle

Season 1971 - Episode 1

In this episode, Horizon looks a the efforts of zoos to save animal species from extinction by breeding enough to ensure their survival in captivity


#18 - The Missing Link

Season 1972 - Episode 1

In this episode of Horizon, you find out how feasible it is to build a 35 mile long tunnel between Britain and France.


#19 - Epidemic

Season 1973 - Episode 1

Horizon examines sources of infection that have, and could still, cause epidemics in Britain.


#20 - A Smile for a Crocodile

Season 1977 - Episode 1

Horizon documents the life of crocodiles and alligators, and their breeding and exploitation.


#21 - Awakening the Frozen Addicts

Season 1993 - Episode 1

Horizons presents a report on a daring Swedish operation that transplants foetal tissue into the brains of Parkinson's disease sufferers.


#22 - What is One Degree?

Season 2011 - Episode 1

Comedian Ben Miller returns to his roots as a physicist to try to answer a deceptively simple question: what is one degree of temperature? His quest takes him to the frontiers of current science as he meets researchers working on the hottest and coldest temperatures in the universe, and to a lab where he experiences some of the strangest effects of quantum physics - a place where super-cooled liquids simply pass through solid glass. Plus, Ben installs his very own Met office weather station at home. Ben's investigations in this personal and passionate film highlight the importance of measurement and accuracy in the 21st century.

Directors: Dan Clifton

#23 - The Secret Life of the Dog

Season 2010 - Episode 1

We have an extraordinary relationship with dogs - closer than with any other animal on the planet. But what makes the bond between us so special? Research into dogs is gaining momentum, and scientists are investigating them like never before. From the latest fossil evidence, to the sequencing of the canine genome, to cognitive experiments, dogs are fast turning into the new chimps as a window into understanding ourselves. Where does this relationship come from? In Siberia, a unique breeding experiment reveals the astonishing secret of how dogs evolved from wolves. Swedish scientists demonstrate how the human/dog bond is controlled by a powerful hormone also responsible for bonding mothers to their babies. Why are dogs so good at reading our emotions? Horizon meets Betsy, the world's most intelligent dog, and compares her incredible abilities to those of children. Man's best friend has recently gone one step further - helping us identify genes responsible for causing human diseases.


#24 - The Creative Brain: How Insight Works

Season 2013 - Episode 1

It is a feeling we all know - the moment when a light goes on in your head. In a sudden flash of inspiration, a new idea is born. Today, scientists are using some unusual techniques to try to work out how these moments of creativity - whether big, small or life-changing - come about. They have devised a series of puzzles and brainteasers to draw out our creative behaviour, while the very latest neuroimaging technology means researchers can actually peer inside our brains and witness the creative spark as it happens. What they are discovering could have the power to make every one of us more creative.

Directors: Kate Dart

#25 - The Elephant's Guide to Sex

Season 2007 - Episode 2

How do you save an endangered species? Get the animals in the mood for love. Thomas Hildebrandt possesses one of the world's most extraordinary jobs - getting the planet's endangered animals in the mood for love. The planet's creatures are facing the biggest mass extinction since the dinosaurs were wiped out. Species are currently disappearing at up to 10,000 times the natural rate. Coming to the rescue are men like Dr Hildebrandt and his team. They are world leaders in the art of animal manipulation. The billions of pounds spent benefiting human reproduction are now being applied to save endangered species. Techniques such as artificial insemination and IVF have been crucial to the successes in breeding giant pandas, big cats and other mammals in zoos across the world. As Thomas Hildebrandt says "Man has created this annihilation of species. It's up to man to use his ingenuity to save them."