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Now fundamental to our understanding of Earth science, the theory of continental drift was highly controversial – if not outright derided by the majority of the scientific community – when the German geophysicist Alfred Wegener first proposed it in 1912. This lively short animation from the Royal Institution chronicles how the American geologist Marie Tharp’s tireless and brilliant work helping to map the ocean floor during the mid-20th century – which included battling endemic sexism – forced a massive paradigm shift that led to plate tectonics gaining widespread acceptance among scientists.
Director: Rosanna Wan
Producer: Ed Prosser
The key to geckos’ unrivalled climbing skills isn’t sticky feet. It’s subatomic
Technology and the self
Greetings from Green Bank – the small town where modern technology is banned
Far from frivolous, cuteness is a powerful – and still mysterious – force of nature
Dance and theatre
How a Noh mask-maker summons a lifelike face from a single block of wood
The ancient world
What wine vessels reveal about politics and luxury in ancient Athens and Persia
David Goldblatt captured the contradictions of apartheid in stark black and white
In the search for life, might alien ocean worlds be a better bet than Earth-like planets?
Thinkers and theories
Is simulation theory a way to shirk responsibility for the world we’ve created?
A dazzling slice-by-slice exploration of wood exposes hidden patterns and hues