Big History

Available in HISTORY Vault

Episodes for this season are currently unavailable on our site.

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 1 The Superpower of Salt
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The Superpower of Salt

Aired on Nov 02, 2013

We all know that mankind can’t live without air, food and water…the same is true of salt. The salt on your table is a key to unlocking the story of our planet and the cosmos. Big History reveals how this simple molecule underpins our civilization, launched wars, built monuments like the Great Wall of China, sparked revolutions from India to France…and it’s even the substance that makes up our thoughts.

 2 Big History: Horse Power Revolution
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Big History: Horse Power Revolution

Aired on Nov 02, 2013

The horse has been a revolutionary animal in unexpected ways. It has changed how we speak, what we wear, and sets the hidden limit for the size of our most massive empires. It’s a story that spans the cosmos, from the Big Bang, to the Sun, to a changing planet that turned the horse into man’s best friend in the animal kingdom.

 3 Gold Fever
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Gold Fever

Aired on Nov 09, 2013

This episode asks why mankind is gold crazy, and discovers there’s a hard-wired reason we lust after it, and a microscopic explanation for why it shines. We reveal how the science behind our favorite metal drives men across oceans and continents, and how a difference in the way it’s used in each hemisphere leads to a clash of civilizations.

 4 Below Zero
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Below Zero

Aired on Nov 09, 2013

Reveals how cold has the power to turn men into Barbarians, spark history’s longest running war, and create the concept of race. After the heat of the Big Bang, cold creates the Universe and the planet as we know it. For thousands of years on Earth, cold controls the fate of our species by changing our bodies, our skin, and even the metals we use to fight our wars. When we finally take control of the cold, we learn to dominate the planet.

 5 Megastructures
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Megastructures

Aired on Nov 16, 2013

From the Great Pyramid at Giza to the towering skyscrapers of today, humans have engineered massive constructions for at least 5,000 years. But why? How do biology and human emotions affect our desire to build gigantic structures? Why were the earliest mega-structures almost always pyramids? Why do people have the urge to build tall, and how do mega-structures on earth echo a basic principle embedded in the very structure of the universe?

 6 Defeating Gravity
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Defeating Gravity

Aired on Nov 16, 2013
Flight takes more than wings. We need the right kind of air, the perfect materials cooked up over billions of years, and cosmic forces that are just right for us to leave the ground without tumbling off into space. Big History reveals how planet Earth is the perfect planet for flight.
 7 World of Weapons
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World of Weapons

Aired on Nov 23, 2013

Humans have small teeth and no claws or armor, so how do we project our power? Warfare has defined traditional history, but Big History digs deeper to reveal how it all began. We see how bat poop and ancient trees shaped the history of weapons, and link the gun all the way back to a change in our bodies that turned us into throwing machines.

 8 Brain Boost
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Brain Boost

Aired on Nov 23, 2013

Behind that cup of coffee or tea is a global story that goes back to the collision that created the Moon and the evolution of plant and animal life. The key is the molecule that gives your morning cup its kick: caffeine, the most popular drug in history. This is the story of how a plant poison became our drug of choice, and stimulated revolutions around the planet.

 9 Mountain Machines
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Mountain Machines

Aired on Nov 30, 2013

They form natural boundaries, dictate how we spread around the planet, create natural defenses, and control our weather. From the World War that began with a gunshot in the Balkans to the feuds of the Appalachians, mountains have also been flashpoints for violence. They provide minerals and metals that make civilization possible, and the water that feeds billions, yet we were never designed to live in their extreme environments. Without mountains earth would be desolate and uninhabitable, and scientists now believe that an invisible mountain range made life possible in the first place.

 10 Pocket Time Machine
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Pocket Time Machine

Aired on Nov 30, 2013
How cell phones link to the big bang,the human memory and the Titanic disaster.
 11 Decoded
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Decoded

Aired on Dec 07, 2013
Questioning the possibility that the entire universe is built off binary code.
 12 Deadly Meteors
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Deadly Meteors

Aired on Dec 07, 2013
Discovering the impact that space has had on our planet and how quickly they could snuff it all out in a fiery burst of destruction.
 14 Silver Supernova
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Silver Supernova

Aired on Dec 14, 2013

At critical moments in history, our second place metal was the most important metal on Earth. Big History reveals how silver’s place in our minds was determined by the heat of exploding stars, and how this one metal saved democracy, gave us the dollar, and had a secret power to connect the world.

 14 Rise of the Carnivores
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Rise of the Carnivores

Aired on Dec 14, 2013

Eating meat made us human…by giving us bigger brains, better tools, and spoken language. The human need for beef has driven history across the hemispheres, but how did we turn an ancient mega-beast into the cow we have today? Big History traces all the beef on earth back to a single prehistoric herd.

 15 H2O
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H2O

Aired on Dec 21, 2013

Water is the miracle molecule, and mankind has used its perfect properties to revolutionize our lives. It was our first superhighway, the lifeblood of civilization, and gives us 90% of all the power we use today. This episode reveals how the science behind water is the driving force behind history.

 16 The Sun
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The Sun

Aired on Dec 14, 2013

The Sun is our master and creator. It gives us our perception of time, controls our reality, and powers our lives. Big History sheds new light on our nearest star, revealing that ancient sun worship intersects with science, that our bodies are fine-tuned to the 24-hour day, and history is driven in unseen ways by the simple way we circle our star.

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