Landing on a comet

4 minutes

Steve is undocumented

10 minutes

You and the thing that you love

12 minutes

Should computers run the world?

36 minutes

The artefact artist

23 minutes

What it’s like to land on a comet 300 million miles away

Hailed as ‘one of the greatest successes in the history of space exploration’, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission marked the first time humans have successfully landed a space probe on a comet. While Rosetta made major headlines in 2014 when its lander, called Philae, touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the dedicated team of scientists and engineers behind the mission had laboured for 20 years on its innovative design. In this short documentary, Stephan Ulamec of the German Aerospace Center details the patience, inevitable uncertainty and nerve-wracking anticipation that accompanies landing a spacecraft on an object hurling through space at more than 11 miles per second, 300 million miles away.

Video by Lonelyleap and BBC Future

Meet the British bouncer in LA on an expired visa who has no time for immigrants

Steve is a former weightlifter who still keeps up with quite a few hobbies: fitness, heavy metal music, clay sculpture, bikes, motorcycles, and lots and lots of weapons. He works as a bouncer outside a Los Angeles nightclub, making small talk with the (often over-served) young patrons, and throwing out troublemakers. And, as he’ll tell anyone who’ll listen, he hates what immigration is doing to the country – despite being a Brit who’s overstayed his own US visa by 25 years. Steve Is Undocumented captures him at a moment of transition, preparing for a move back to England with his wife, who is pregnant with twins. With their stylish and often wry profile, the directors Michael Barth and Kauai Moliterno build a complex portrait in just 10 minutes, capturing the many intricacies and blaring hypocrisies of Steve’s life and worldview.

Directors: Michael Barth, Kauai Moliterno

Producer: Nathan Truesdell

After losing his sight, a skateboarder takes an unexpected path to realising his dreams

Nick Mullins fell in love with skateboarding as a teenager and, rather quickly, became quite skilled. As one of the best young skateboarders in the Detroit area, he was putting together a video to catch the attention of sponsors, when, after taking a rough but mostly innocuous fall, he scraped the side of his body and contracted a staph infection. He would barely escape with his life, and after waking up from a medically induced coma, realised he had gone blind. Believing he had no prospects – in skating or in life – he fell into a deep depression. The short documentary You and the Thing That You Love retells how Mullins would eventually realise his dreams, albeit by taking a very much unanticipated path. Capturing Mullins’s story with kinetic style, the US filmmaker Nicholas Maher avoids cliché to create a standout portrait of perseverance and love of craft – and one that can be savoured even if you don’t know your ‘blunts’ from your ‘fakies’.

Director: Nicholas Maher

Algorithms are sensitive. People are specific. We should exploit their respective strengths

The capabilities of algorithms and human brainpower overlap, intersect and contrast in a multitude of ways, argues Hannah Fry, an associate professor in the mathematics of cities at University College London, in this lecture at the Royal Institution from 2018. And, says Fry, planning for an efficient, ethical future demands that we carefully consider the respective strengths of each without stereotyping either as inherently good or bad, while always keeping their real-world consequences in mind. Borrowing from her book Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms (2018), Fry’s presentation synthesises fascinating studies, entertaining anecdotes and her own personal experiences to build a compelling argument for how we ought to think about algorithms if we’d like them to amplify – and not erode – our humanity.

New York’s 300-year-old trash becomes treasure in the hands of an urban archaeologist

Scott Jordan’s two-bedroom apartment in Queens, New York is filled with thousands of local artefacts, many of which date back centuries. Populating his shelves and drawers are glass bottles, porcelain dolls, pottery and even a gun from the Revolutionary War – all of them once buried far beneath New Yorkers’ feet, and many of which he’s repurposed to create original art. This small museum of recovered treasures comes from years of playing in the dirt and digging out landfills, cisterns and privies by hand. In The Artefact Artist, the US director Russ Kendall explores the buried history of cities, and how Jordan finds meaning and community in the process of searching for, discovering, and transforming objects others have left for trash.

Director: Russ Kendall

Website: The Artefact Artist

What it’s like to land on a comet 300 million miles away

Hailed as ‘one of the greatest successes in the history of space exploration’, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission marked the first time humans have successfully landed a space probe on a comet. While Rosetta made major headlines in 2014 when its lander, called Philae, touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the dedicated team of scientists and engineers behind the mission had laboured for 20 years on its innovative design. In this short documentary, Stephan Ulamec of the German Aerospace Center details the patience, inevitable uncertainty and nerve-wracking anticipation that accompanies landing a spacecraft on an object hurling through space at more than 11 miles per second, 300 million miles away.

Video by Lonelyleap and BBC Future

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Stinson Beach, California, 1973. Photo by Elliott Erwitt/Magnum

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