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Marie Tharp: uncovering the secrets of the ocean floor

5 minutes

Battling sexism and dissension, Marie Tharp changed how we understand the Earth

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

ORIGINAL
Video/Cognition & Intelligence

For millennia, we’d never seen anything like film cuts. How do we process them so easily?

7 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Meaning & the Good Life

How the Stoic embrace of death can help us get a grip on life

5 minutes

Video/Mathematics

Going from A to B isn’t always a straight line – but it can be very good fun

2 minutes

Idea/Space Exploration

To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it

Ramin Skibba

Video/Cosmology

We are born of supernovas – our spectacular and totally ordinary origin story

4 minutes

Essay/Human Evolution

Sex makes babies

As far as we can tell, no other animal knows this. Did our understanding of baby-making change the course of human history?

Holly Dunsworth & Anne Buchanan

Idea/History of Science

The most wonderful words in science: ‘We have no idea… yet!’

Daniel Whiteson

Video/Physics

Why the apparent flatness of space is an enduring cosmological mystery

4 minutes

Essay/Evolution

Aliens in our midst

The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself

Douglas Fox