Monthly Archives: Apr 2016

Celebrating the Planet and the Parks

More than 1 billion people around the globe take part in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  And on this Earth Day, join CuriosityStream for a tour of some of the majesties of our planet.

Dive deep and start with the BBC’s 3-part series, Great Barrier Reef… a stunning and vivid look at the complex structure of the coral reef and the wildlife that lives on and around it.  Here’s a preview:

For more on this Earth Day: Curiosity Retreat Luminary and renown explorer Dr. Sylvia Earle shares her take on the The Health Of Our Oceans, in a Curiosity Studios original production.  Also, watch the BBC’s 3-part series How To Grow A Planet on the powerful force of plants in our past, present and future.  And learn more about the connection with severe weather in the Curious Minds: Climate Change collection.

This week also marks National Parks Week – a chance to highlight the vibrant culture, rich history and diverse wildlife of America’s treasured landscapes.

CuriosityStream board member David Shaw is also a director the National Park Foundation – the charitable nonprofit supporting the National Park Service. He shared his thoughts about the Find Your Park campaign and this year’s 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Created in 1916, our national park system now includes more than 400 parks attracting nearly 300 million visits annually across all 50 states.  At this historic moment, the centennial campaign will seek to strengthen public engagement in these national treasures  –  both for those who already know and love the parks, and for the next generation of park enthusiasts. As a director of the National Park Foundation, I feel fortunate to be working with the National Park Service and others in the design of a campaign to communicate the many ways that parks benefit those who experience these special places.  In parks that range from historic and cultural monuments, to majestic landscapes and marine ecosystems, experiences can be deeply moving and inspirational.  An important goal of the Find Your Park campaign is to share these experiences, via social media, with wide ranging audiences and diverse communities. My own experiences in national parks in America and across the world have been both very meaningful and long lasting. — CuriosityStream Advisory Board Member David Shaw

Shaw shared a few snapshots of some of his favorite national parks: Canyon De Chelly National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, and the Petrified Forest National Park.

And for one more stop on your national parks tour, travel to one of America’s most iconic landscapes – Yellowstone — in all its stunning glory in each of the seasons.  The 3-part series is available to watch only on CuriosityStream. Here’s a preview of summer:

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Lincoln’s Last Night

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.  President Abraham Lincoln

Strong and impactful words from the 16th President of the United States, in a message to Congress in 1862.  The country was in the middle of its deadliest war ever.

Less than 3 years later, the Civil War was drawing to a close.  General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army on April 9th, 1865. And just 5 days later, on April 14th, President and Mrs. Lincoln attended the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC.  It was there that the course of history changed forever.

John Wilkes booth, a southern sympathizer, slipped into the President’s box and assassinated him… part of a larger, failed plan to revive the Confederate cause. The nation turned from relief at the end of the war, to mourning.

Abraham Lincoln’s vision of a free America was an uphill battle from the start, and ultimately put him directly in the line of fire.

Watch more of the documentary Lincoln’s Last Night on CuriosityStream. And don’t miss The Gettysburg Story, bringing to life the history of the greatest battle fought in the Western Hemisphere, with innovative imagery that captures the battleground as never seen before. And in our Curious Minds: American History collection, learn more about Lincoln’s fascinating relationship with abolitionist Frederick Douglass.


And in October of this year, guests at the annual Curiosity Retreat will have the chance to talk directly to renowned Lincoln historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Goodwin, a Pulitzer prize-winner, is the author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincolnand she is a 2016 Curiosity Retreat Luminary.  You can learn more about the event, and all of our Curiosity Retreat Luminaries from the worlds of science, technology, civilization and the human spirit, here.



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CuriosityStream now on Apple TV

Enjoying your new 4th-gen Apple TV?  Make sure to look for CuriosityStream in the brand new app store!

All of your favorite science, tech, history and nature documentaries from CuriosityStream are now available on the device, which features a touch and Siri-enabled remote and a revamped user interface.

When Apple unveiled the new Apple TV last year, CEO Tim Cook talked about how the logistics of the television experience hadn’t changed that much in decades.  He said, “We believe the future of television is apps.”  We couldn’t agree more!

Of course, you can also find the CuriosityStream app on the other top streaming devices, including Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV.

And of course, we still support earlier model Apple TV devices via AirPlay.

Check in with our CuriosityStream help center with any questions, and as always, stay curious!

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Fighting Zika

In the headlines this week, a major development in the fight against Zika — a first look at the virus itself.  Scientists have determined the 3D structure of the virus, revealing critical insights that will likely help the race to develop effective treatments and vaccines.


Image courtesy of Purdue University/Kuhn and Rossmann Research Groups

Details of the new findings are published in the journal Science.

A team of researchers from Purdue University and the National Institutes of Health used cryo-electron microscopy to determine the virus’ structure at very close range – “near atomic resolution.”  They used a strain isolated from a patient infected during the French Polynesia epidemic 2 years ago, but with new technology, their work now took just one month.

They found several similarities to other flaviviruses – including Dengue and West Nile — and that wasn’t surprising.  But, they also discovered a variation on the virus’ surface, which could help explain how the virus works to attack cells and cause infection.

Also this week – news from the CDC that the type of mosquito that transmits the virus has spread further north in the United States.  Federal health officials thought the Aedes aegypti mosquito was concentrated mostly in the south.  But now, new maps show the insect’s range has broadened to the Midwest and as far north as New York City.

We learn more about this small but mighty vector in CuriosityStream’s new, original production — Viruses: Destruction and Creation.

Viruses: Destruction and Creation takes a closer look at these simple, but incredibly powerful organisms — that can sometimes be to our benefit, but oftentimes not.

Andrew Pekosz, PhD, is the director of the Center for Emerging Viruses and Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In an interview with CuriosityStream Studios, he helped to explain the evolution of the virus and what makes it so powerful.

Dr. Pekosz:  Stealth is one word that often comes in because a virus is able to find a cell, find a host. It’s able to get in and it’s able to cross-wire, disconnect, some of the alarm systems that a body has so that it can get a head start in terms of replicating itself and moving itself forward in terms of making enough copies of itself so it can spread to the next host. It can do a lot of this before a host even knows it’s infected. By the time you start responding and getting symptoms to an infection, oftentimes the virus is already well along its pathway of spreading to the next host and moving forward and propagating itself.

CuriosityStream: And how fast can that virus replicate?

Dr. Pekosz: A virus infected cell can make dozens, if not hundreds, of virus particles. From one infected cell you can easily get 20 infected cells. Each of those infected cells can then make another 20 infected cells. Before the host really has a way to respond to the infection with its immune system, you can have hundreds of thousands of cells, each of which are making hundreds and thousands of virus particles and that creates a huge bolus of viruses, in the case of Zika, in the blood, which now a mosquito coming to feed on that individual will pick up a blood meal that not just has the blood but also has the virus in it. That’s how the mosquito then becomes infected and can spread the infection on to other mosquitoes and, presumably, to other humans.

CuriosityStream: The Mosquito is the key here?

Dr. Pekosz: Mosquitoes are really fantastic little syringes… particularly female mosquitoes because it’s the female mosquitoes that need to bite and it’s the blood that the female mosquito ingests that she needs in order to lay an effective clutch of eggs. What a mosquito does is it not only bites but it also has to inject some of its saliva into that bite site in order to make sure that it can obtain a blood meal. Mosquitoes oftentimes bite several times before they actually will take their blood meal. Each time they bite they try to expel a little bit of saliva into that site to see if the blood will flow.

Where arboviruses have become exquisitely good at is finding ways to get into that saliva at very, very high concentrations. The virus has found a way to concentrate itself in that saliva so when the mosquito goes through its normal processes of trying to get a blood meal it inadvertently is introducing the virus into the host along with everything that it needs to try to pull that blood meal out.  It is an incredibly effective way for the virus to replicate, get into a host, get multiple injections into a host, and start its process.

CuriosityStream: The National Institutes of Health has called the Zika outbreak an explosive pandemic that is truly remarkable.

Dr. Pekosz: Once Zika virus entered South America it seems to have just exploded in terms of the number of human cases. In an incredibly short period of time we’ve gone from Zika not being present in a continent to having close to a million cases, probably, of infection. That explosiveness and how quickly the virus has spread and caused so many infections is one of the main reasons why national public health agencies and the World Health Organization are so concerned about this spread.

You can hear more from Dr. Pekosz, in Viruses: Destruction and Creation, premiering this week on CuriosityStream.

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