Tag Archives: CuriosityStream

Stephen Hawking Returns to CuriosityStream

Today is an exciting day for CuriosityStream, with the release of the second episode of our Emmy® Award-winning Original Series, Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places (SHFP). This series has not only been a huge success and one of our highest rated programs, but it continues to enthrall our viewers (and our own team!) by sparking curiosity about our Universe.  Working with the award-winning theoretical physicist and bestselling author Stephen Hawking as our tour guide, we couldn’t be in better hands.  We sat down with Ben Bowie of Bigger Bang Productions, executive producer of the series, to learn about what differentiates the sequel from episode one, as well as what the future of the series has in store for viewers.

CuriosityStream (CS): I think it’s fair to say that episode two is even bigger and better that episode one. Talk about the decision to turn the focus toward the biggest question there is: “the theory of everything.”  When Hawking takes us in search of the secret of the Universe, isn’t he really enacting and dramatizing his life’s work?

Ben Bowie (BB): Professor Hawking decided very early in his career to concentrate on the biggest mysteries he could find because, due to his illness, he didn’t know how much time he would have.  Why the Universe is as it is, is indeed the biggest mystery one can contemplate.  We decided this quest would be the subject of SHFP 2 and its follow up, SHFP 3, because only that question encompasses his life’s work.  All the rest follows from that one decision.  So, indeed, it is an attempt to make that journey accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

CS: The “S.S. Hawking” reveals some extraordinary new capabilities in this episode.  What were some of the most exciting and fun sequences for you to create?

BB: Well, believe it or not, it was a difficult decision to allow the SS Hawking to be able to do ‘anything’ – even break the laws of physics!  We weren’t sure if taking the series in that direction was the best thing to do or not.  But, in the end, being a product of Stephen’s imagination, the ship is not bound by the law of physics because it is like the human mind: able to imagine anything it can.  That’s our great superpower, and Stephen has it to a greater extent than most.  Once we had crossed that threshold, we delighted in many of the things we could imagine such a ship doing.  Diving into the Sun, visiting a ruined alien civilization, and getting trapped in a situation that not even the ship could escape were all wonderful scenarios that we had great fun working through.  Getting Stephen to engage in these fantastical episodes, imagining himself in them, was truly a highlight of my career.

CS: There is a sequence where Hawking dives into Venus that is not only visually stunning, but the sequence sends a pretty strong message to climate change deniers.  Whose idea was that?

BB: One thing about Stephen is that he is very passionate about the environment and mankind’s influence on it.  The way that sequence came to be is because during production, the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement.  That decision spurred Stephen to make Venus the first stop on his new journey in this episode.  Planet-wide, catastrophic climate change is not a theory.  Venus – the nearest planet to ours – has undergone such a process, and if we can’t learn from that example, we are simply deluding ourselves.  The challenge was how to make that sequence exciting rather than tub-thumping, and if we succeeded it was thanks to some dazzling extravehicular activity from Commander Hawking himself.

CS: What do you hope people take away from this series?  Having worked with Professor Hawking so many times over the years, what makes this series special?

BB: This series is the closest to the very first idea I had for a show with Stephen, yet was never able to make until the folks at CuriosityStream allowed us at Bigger Bang the creative freedom to try it.  For the first time, we see the world’s most famous scientist engaging with the Universe up close.  That is an incredible rarity!  We also tried very hard to show the scale of things and to reveal how Stephen’s life story has driven his research.  So, I hope this is a new way of communicating science to people of all ages; an exciting adventure but with real (and possibly troubling) science at its heart.  By the end, I hope people will stop arguing about trivial stuff because we should focus on preserving the most amazing thing we know that exists in the Universe – the human race.

CS: SHFP 2 ends with a cliffhanger, but fortunately for viewers, it’s not the last episode in the series!  Without revealing too much, can you give us a hint of what to expect from SHFP 3?

BB: Ah ha! Yes, difficult not to give too much away.  Let’s just say that SHFP 3 takes things to a whole new level, both with what the ship can do and what Hawking can do with it…

 

Watch the Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places 2 trailer here:

 

Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places 2 is available now, only on CuriosityStream, and episode three will be released on April 19, 2018. You can also watch episode one, which earned CuriosityStream its first Emmy® Award in 2017.

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A day in the life of a filmmaker: Working with Commander Chris Hadfield

We are just one week away from the premiere of one of our most exciting original documentaries to date, Miniverse.  The film features the always wonderful CuriosityStream advisory board member Michio Kaku, as well as astronomers Derrick Pitts and Laura Danly, and is hosted by former astronaut Chris Hadfield.  All of you space fans out there may remember Commander Hadfield as a YouTube sensation for his performance of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station.  Well, it turns out he’s just as fun and creative to work with as you might imagine.  We sat down with Doug Cohen, executive producer of Flight 33, to live vicariously through him about working with one of the world’s greatest astronauts.

Q: What was Chris Hadfield (CH) like to work with?

A: Chris is a former fighter pilot and an astronaut, so the things that felt like challenges to the rest of us were no sweat to him.  To quote one member of our crew, “Chris Hadfield is the best human being I’ve ever met.”  It’s not just that he’s charming, curious and tireless; it’s also that he sings, plays guitar, tells great stories and, of course, he’s been to space!

Q: What was the funniest thing that happened while shooting Miniverse?

A: Chris had spent the whole day driving at about 40 miles per hour through the Mojave Desert while chatting with astronomer Laura Danly.  We kept his speed down to reduce the amount of road noise during the conversation.  As the sun set, we prepped to shoot beauty shots of the car driving down the lonely desert highway.  I radioed to Chris that he should drive past the camera, and since we weren’t rolling sound he was now free to go as fast as he wanted.  When I called “action”, he put the pedal to the metal and whipped past us at 122 miles per hour with poor Laura Danly holding on for dear life!  That’s the last time I tell a former fighter pilot to drive as fast as he wants!

Q: Describe the dynamic between CH and Michio Kaku.

A: They were excited to meet each other!  It was fun to watch the contrast between astrophysicist and astronaut. Michio made it clear that despite his fascination with space, he had no interest in doing something risky like traveling to Mars.  Chris, on the other hand, said that the danger is precisely what makes him want to do it.

 

Q: Between CH and Derrick Pitts?

A: Derrick would have liked to be an astronaut himself, so he was thrilled to be Chris’ guide for the outer planets.  The two of them bonded over some packets of freeze-dried “astronaut ice cream.”

 

Q: Between CH and Laura Danly?

A: When we asked Laura if she wanted to participate in the program, she said “you had me at Chris Hadfield”.  They had a lot of time to talk as we drove from the mountains to the desert, and it was amazing how many things they saw reminded them of Star Trek episodes.

 

Q: What’s the hardest part of shooting so much inside of a car?

A: We had five cameras rolling inside the car at all times, plus cameras affixed to the exterior and to a chase car.  That’s a lot of cameras that need a lot of tending.  You are constantly stopping to troubleshoot misbehaving gear.  We studied how James Corden does it for Carpool Karaoke and how Seinfeld’s team does it for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and took the best ideas from both.  The difference with our show is that we were really traveling from place to place, so we couldn’t just stake out a route on a local road and keep circling.  The entire country was our “set”.

Q: Why did the cops keep pulling CH over?

A: We had no problems in most of the country, but in New York and Washington, D.C. the police were extremely “curious” about this car with cameras all over the windows.  Sometimes, we would neglect to remove our prop license plate that said “ROCKET”.  That also drew the attention of the police on a couple occasions.  One officer removed the license plate and cut in half!  Luckily, we had made an extra one.  In general, when we would tell the cops that we were making a science documentary with an astronaut and a bunch of astrophysicists, they let us go with nothing more than a confused look.

Q: Are there any funny stories from shooting in NYC near the Freedom Tower?

A: We shot at the Brooklyn Bridge across the river from Freedom Tower just before sunset, and as we were shooting, people were lining up to meet Chris and Michio.  This actually happened almost everywhere–hotel lobbies, the steps of the Washington Monument–people from all over the world would show up and ask for an autograph or a selfie.

Miniverse premieres the week of April 17, only on CuriosityStream, and will be available in standard, HD and Ultra HD 4K resolution.

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Programs to Honor Black History Month

This Black History Month, we are shining a spotlight on content that explores history, culture and storytelling across the globe, from Africa to the United States.  Our marquis featured program is Ebony: The Last Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade, arguably one of the most beautifully filmed and directed films ever made about the transatlantic African slave trade.  One of the top production companies in France, Les Films D’ici, along with Senegalese director Moussa Touré shot much of this tragic story in Africa, giving it shocking authenticity.

Ebony: The Last Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade

Slavery is the shared dark side of the history of many nations around the globe.  But apart from the accounts of our schoolbooks and a few memorable dates, what do most people really know about the struggle to put an end to the Atlantic Slave Trade?

During the second half of the 19th century, slavery and the trade linked to it were theoretically forbidden.  The concept of abolitionism was spread out all around the colonies of various empires.  However, the slave trade continued and brought even more injustice and violence, in a world that was at the dawn of a major change.

Through realistic dramatic recreations, and authentic drawings and documents of the time, Ebony follows the tragic lives of Africans who were sold into slavery in Guinea and transported across the ocean to work under brutal slave owners in the French West Indies in the early 1800’s.  Watch the powerful story here.

 

Additional Featured Content

Ray Charles: If You Can Sing – Iconic musician Ray Charles shows how “easy” it is to sing from the heart, explaining how he beautifully executes his craft.

 

Butterfly Effect: Martin Luther King, Jr. – What would the Civil Rights movement have been like if Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been motivating change?

 

Lessons Learned: Time In Africa – Henry Crumpton, a former CIA covert operative, tells a story from his post in Africa that changed his way of thinking.

 

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Destination: Jupiter + The Year of the Rooster

February 2nd will mark one of NASA’s Juno space probe’s closest flybys to Jupiter.  We are celebrating by sharing what we’ve learned along the way since Juno first set out to Jupiter with a newly released episode in our original series Destination: Jupiter!  Then, travel to China during the peak of this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations with our newly curated content collection, China.  It’s a busy week for curious minds and we’ve got you covered with content spanning the globe and the Universe.

Destination: Jupiter

Seven months since the Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4th, 2016, the mission has started to lift the veil on the largest and most mysterious planet in our solar system.  Since its initial approach, the craft has been on a 53-day orbit around the gas giant.  Thus far, there have been three close flybys in August, October, and December of 2016.  During that time, Juno has flown a mere 2600 miles above the Jovian clouds, employing eight cutting-edge space exploration instruments to collect images and peer below the thick atmosphere of the planet, hoping to reveal its inner most secrets.

As the next flyby approaches on February 2nd, the Juno team will be tasked with making an unexpected and critical trajectory decision, impacting the future of the carefully-planned mission.  Review what has been uncovered so far in Mission Update, the second episode in our exclusive, original Destination: Jupiter series, and learn how you can become an active participant in the Juno Mission to Jupiter!

 

Chinese New Year

The most anticipated global event in China’s calendar is in full swing, when people take to the streets to ring in another year.  Unlike the festivities of many countries, which always take place at midnight between December 31 and January 1, Chinese New Year is a moveable festivity.  This year, the celebration began on January 27 (New Year’s Eve) and continue for around two weeks (ending on February 2) and the year will last until February 15, 2018.  This year is the “Year of the Rooster” – those born in 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993 and 2005 are known as Roosters.

To honor the occasion, we have created a new content collection, full of our most fascinating and informative documentaries about China.  The collection contains 11 programs and spans over 12 hours, guaranteeing that you can become an expert on all things China by the time this year’s New Year celebrations come to a close.

Find the collection in its entirety here.  Happy New Year!

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Mars: The Red Planet

If you have been following NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover, then you know it has had quite an eventful couple of months!  It has recently discovered an odd-shaped iron meteorite that some likened to “an alien egg,” viewed spectacularly layered rock formations and, just last week, slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges were discovered that likely originated as cracks in drying mud.  This makes it a perfect time to explore our new collection, Mars: The Red Planet.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury.  Named after the Roman God of War, it is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance.  50 years of space exploration have brought us closer to understanding Mars, but is it as hospitable as many experts think?

This newly curated collection is made up of eight programs, totaling just over six hours of content all about Mars.  Perfect for all age ranges, the content covers everything from whether or not there is water on Mars to the likelihood of life on Mars to what it would take for humans to colonize Mars.

So, why not make it a night of star gazing and dreaming of far away galaxies?  Grab some popcorn and get ready to binge on facts and speculations about the Red Planet.  Find the full collection here, only on CuriosityStream.

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Prescription: Nutrition

As we settle into the routines of the new year, many of you (like me) might be striving to improve upon everyday habits, including diet and exercise.  Inspiration and motivation — difficult to find in dreary winter weather — are there for you on CuriosityStream starting today, with our new January feature, Prescription: Nutrition.  In this original and exclusive CuriosityStream series, Dr. Michael Greger (bestselling author and world-renowned public health expert) shares the latest scientific research behind the prevention of most chronic diseases, based on his and his team’s ongoing review of thousands of medical studies each year.  His wealth of knowledge is distilled into practical advice on his non-profit website NutritionFacts.org, as well as in this captivating CuriosityStream original series.

The impetus behind this exclusive program came from my personal struggle at the beginning of last year to contend with some unnerving health scares.  After attending a book reading for The Humane Economy written by our CuriosityStream Advisory Board member and my friend, Wayne Pacelle, I gave the vegan diet a try.  Soon after, the nearly immediate benefits of my new fruit and vegetable diet unleashed my curiosity.  I realized astounding improvements in my health (and surprisingly, my fitness) from eating so many fresh fruits and vegetables.  Not only did I start consuming mass quantities of plant-based foods, but I also began consuming books, from The China Study to Dr. Greger’s How Not to Die.   The authors had differing perspectives on diet, but all experts agreed that adding more fresh fruits and vegetables is the first step to improving your nutrition and your overall health.


When we polled our subscribers for their thoughts on potential CuriosityStream series, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Prescription: Nutrition had support from our member base.  I wasn’t the only one fascinated by the power of plants.  So I must thank our subscribers for their enthusiasm in bringing this series to fruition.

 

Broccoli Floating on a Shiitake Dashi – get the recipe and learn more about the series by clicking on the image!

 

While we might be searching to understand the complex physics underlying our Universe with dark matter, we have dark matter (or unknowns) in the form of the nutritional make-up of our food as well.  Scientists have only identified (at most) 10% of the vitamins, phytonutrients and micronutrients bio-available in our food.  When we opt for orange juice instead of a whole orange, we may think we are getting nutritional excellence with Vitamin C, but that Vitamin C may have been much more bio-available if it came with the glucose-slowing properties of pulp fiber and the other 90% unknown nutrients readily available in the unprocessed orange.  There are many questions to be asked and more to be answered in Prescription: Nutrition.

Watch the trailer below and tune in bi-weekly for new episodes of Prescription: Nutritiononly on CuriosityStream.

 

To your health and unbridled curiosity…

Elizabeth Hendricks North

President & CEO, CuriosityStream

Elizabeth Hendricks North is President and CEO of CuriosityStream. Follow her on Twitter @ehendricksnorth.

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Stay curious in 2017

Happy New Year!

Part and parcel with a new year arrives both reflection on the past and excitement (hopefully) toward the future.  Here at CuriosityStream, we are very much looking forward to 2017 and to helping you become more curious about the many wonders in science, technology, history and nature.  Our team has been hard at work over the holidays putting together a release schedule of original and exclusive titles debuting on CuriosityStream over the next few months.  Take a look at some highlights below and stay tuned for their official premiere dates.

 

January 2017

New year, new you!  Hosted by Dr. Michael Greger, MD, author of the New York Times best-seller How Not to Die and editor of the world renowned website NutritionFacts.org, explore the dramatic health benefits of plant-based diets and the amazing revolution in how we approach our relationship with food.  New episodes will be released bi-weekly beginning in early January.

February 2017

Travel back in time to visit the three most powerful extinction events in Earth’s history.  This original series explores the major events that wiped out between 70-90% of Earth’s species developed during the Permian, Triassic and Cretaceous periods.

March 2017

Join former astronaut Chris Hadfield – a YouTube sensation for his performance of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station – along with hitchhikers Michio Kaku and more on a joyride across our Solar System, scaled down to the size of the continental United States.

April 2017

You will be captivated by this epic story of our origins told through the story of one extended family.  This group of men, women, and children are your guide to over 15 million years of human history, including the trials, drama and joys of being human across the ages.

May 2017

Can a team of scientists reveal unknown chambers in the Great Pyramid using special muon detector plates beneath the pyramid?  In this expedition, experts use high-tech drones, thermal cameras, laser scanning to create a 3D map of inside and out of the famous Giza plateau tombs.

Stay curious!

Cheers,

Elizabeth Hendricks North
President & CEO, CuriosityStream

Elizabeth Hendricks North is President and CEO of CuriosityStream. Follow her on Twitter @ehendricksnorth.

 

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Top 10 Curious Moments of 2016

As we look back on 2016, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for being a part of our curious community.  This past year has been monumental for science and technology and CuriosityStream been there every step of the way with documentaries that explore key moments in science, history, space, technology, nature and the human spirit.

Journey down memory lane by binge-watching our top 10 curious moments of the year.  Who knows what 2017 will have in store?

               

               

               

               

               

 

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All I want for Christmas is…to stay curious!

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was a change-making year, to say the least.  I, for one, learned a lot and am anxious to see what 2017 has in store.  In a year filled with controversy, new beginnings, tragedy, joy, milestones and re-writing history, one thing binds it all together: curiosity.  As the son of an engineer and a costume designer and uncle to three growing boys – all of whom embody curiosity and creativity – I can’t wait to spread some holiday cheer this year in the form of CuriosityStream gift cards.  This year, we have introduced digital gift cards available here, as well as hard copies available on Amazon.com.  The best part is that annual subscriptions add up to a 16% savings over the course of the year as opposed to monthly plans – something to keep in mind for all of you existing monthly subscribers who might be interested in upgrading in the new year!

I hope you will join me this holiday season by giving the gift of curiosity.  After all, no one should be curious alone.

Here I am staying curious with my nephew on a fall day after watching a ton of documentaries!

Happy Holidays from all of us at CuriosityStream!

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Looking back at Pearl Harbor and tales of survival

Pearl Harbor: Into the Arizona is available now in ultra HD 4k, HD and standard definition on CuriosityStream.  In this powerful documentary, an expedition team explores the inside of the USS Arizona 75 years after it was destroyed at Pearl Harbor, exposing never-before-seen artifacts and stories of survival.

Resting on the murky ocean floor of Pearl Harbor is the USS Arizona, one of the most sacred war graves known in the world.  When the seasoned battleship was destroyed by a surprise Japanese attack 75 years ago in Pearl Harbor, over 1,000 men aboard the ship lost their lives in the blink of an eye.

America was forever changed by the events of this day, a day that has lived in infamy throughout time.  The attack on Pearl Harbor was the single incident that pulled America into World War II, changing the course of history.  Today, the remains of the USS Arizona serve as a memorial to the American people, and is a stark reminder about the consequences of war.  Each year, thousands upon thousand of tourists visit the USS Arizona to see a glimpse of our nation’s past.  But to the survivors of the attack, the USS Arizona represents something much deeper.  It’s a symbol for all those who paid the ultimate price for their country, an event which should never be forgotten.

Donald Stratton

Donald Stratton, USS Arizona Survivor

Survivor Donald Stratton was one of the few men stationed on the Arizona to survive the attack.  For the past 75 years, he’s been waiting for the opportunity to see inside the ship he was once stationed on.  Its current state remains a mystery to him, and to the world.  There isn’t a day that goes by where Don doesn’t think about what happened on December 7, 1941.  While the USS Arizona has changed drastically over the years, Don relives key moments of his life as he explores inside the sunken wreckage, a sight he never thought he would see again.  Don gets one last chance to see items from his past:  a desk stationed in the admiral’s quarters; a well-preserved suit hanging in a closet of a sailor’s room; and even glimpses of the ship’s teak deck, which Don walked on during the attack.  The discoveries made during the expedition are moments that makes Don’s journey complete.

“Some of the personnel did survive, and I was one of them. I think about it every day…how many people didn’t make it that day.”

– Donald Stratton, USS Arizona Survivor

The expedition isn’t just for survivors of the attack.  It’s for the families who lost loved ones as well.  A woman who’s uncle died aboard the ship gets a chance to see the final resting place of her beloved family member…a moment of recognition that her family won’t soon forget.

 

Watch the trailer below and watch the full documentary here.

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