Welcome to CuriosityStream!

CuriosityStream is officially more than two months old! I’m delighted to report that more and more people each day find that we are the best place to satisfy their curiosity about our world.

Recently, I’ve been traveling the world talking to filmmakers and producers about CuriosityStream. From MIPDoc in Cannes to INPUT in Tokyo, most everyone I’ve spoken to has shared an interest in our new home for quality informative documentaries and series. We continue to refine CuriosityStream so that subscribers can explore a new and fascinating area or idea each and every day.


It takes a great team to find captivating content and to create the platform to share that media. It also requires a vision for organizing and presenting it to you, the viewer. At CuriosityStream, we’ve known from the start that people don’t find documentaries or factual programs by titles. They find content by searching areas and topics of interest. We’ve built CuriosityStream to do that curation work for you up front, by tagging shows thoughtfully and thoroughly by topic and many multi-sub-topic areas. This work is invisible to our members, but it enables them to easily use the top menu bar to select one of our many sub-topics, from Genetics to Artificial Intelligence to Philosophy. Often programs satisfy multiple areas of interest, so our system delivers unique and compelling recommendations to feed your singular curiosities. Perhaps watching our BBC series Vikings leads to a recommendation to learn more about another of England’s conquerors, William the Conqueror. Or perhaps your curiosity about Pluto leads you to learn about the difference between asteroids and comets. We dive deep into the science with the astronomers from the Lowell Observatory. Did you know it was Lowell Observatory that ultimately named the dwarf planet Pluto, discovered by Percival Lowell in 1930?

With CuriosityStream, we are also experimenting with new types of entertaining yet informative media. Our Curiosity Retreat Lectures (filmed at Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa at our annual Curiosity Retreats) provide expert deep dives into topics as diverse as the future of nanotechnology to understanding the Middle East. And in our Curiosity Studio, we interview world-renowned experts on a dazzling array of topics. These interviews are produced with compelling visuals and form the basis of our Curious Minds series… making topics like quantum computing more accessible. Try it yourself: I bet you will be able to describe a qubit to a friend after watching our Curious Minds: Quantum Computing series with Chris Monroe.

With so much to explore, I can only hope you take time to enjoy your own personal journey of curiosity.


Elizabeth Hendricks North
President | CuriosityStream

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The Wide World of SVOD

Twelve months ago, I didn’t even know what SVOD meant.  My focus as a programmer at three television networks was to find co-productions and commissions that appealed to the broadest audiences. Here at CuriosityStream, I’m learning that it is possible to “program” for viewers of diverse and very specific interests.  I put “program” in parenthesis because I think TV and SVOD are vastly different. CuriosityStream can offer a deep dive, and more importantly, provide an experience similar to the serendipitous nature of surfing the Web… something missing in linear TV.

For instance, on June 5th and 6th, we will stream the DARPA Robotics Challenge live. 25 teams from around the world will be running robots through their paces of standard disaster conditions — cutting holes through walls, flinging away debris, opening doors and shutting off valves. Just like the best television coverage of any live event, we’ll have multiple feeds of the competition and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. But for the curious mind, we’ll have so much more. Just a click away, you’ll find original profiles of some of the coolest robots these teams have built. And there’s a comprehensive series about robots in development in Europe. Want to learn more about the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster that instigated the DARPA Challenge? Check out a 15-minute video of the wave of destruction along the Japanese coast after the tsunami that caused the meltdown. It is all available here.

By the way, you probably know that SVOD means subscription video on demand.  To me, it’s come to mean that you can binge on quality factual programming, and discover new and surprising connections along the way, on your own time, whenever and wherever you like.

Steve Burns
EVP, Content Production and Acquisition

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Dr. Vint Cerf’s “Grand Experiment”

He is considered one of the true “Fathers of the Internet” – a pioneer in the world of technology. Dr. Vint Cerf was on the original team that helped build the Internet and send the first email message. Dr. Cerf was a critical player in working on what is called packet network interconnection protocols — TCP/IP. Dr. Cerf spoke with me at our pop up studio in Gateway, Colorado, during our first summer of Curiosity Retreats. He focused on those very early days of the Internet:

“And in the earliest stages when Bob Kahn and I were wrestling with this question, “How do we get these different kinds of packet switch nets to communicate with each other and make it operate in such a way that any computer at the edge could talk to any other computer on any other network and wouldn’t have to know exactly how that worked. They didn’t have to know, how were the packets being routed to multiple networks. They didn’t have to worry about, what kind of transmission facility was being used.”

As Dr. Cerf looked back on his team’s amazing creation that has transformed and connected the world as we know it, there is still a sense of awe and wonderment:

“Grand experiment is a beautiful way to describe all this. It’s a grand, global collaboration of people who figured out how to build a piece of internet, found somebody to connect to and let the system grow in a very organic way, and then invent new applications for it—which just gets to the heart one of the features of internet and its philosophy—and that’s openness. It’s the willingness to let people try anything out that they want to.”

But Dr. Cerf is the first to admit, it’s not all good. He told me there is a dark side to the Internet that it has been very hard to control:

“We still have this fundamental, basic problem. Software has bugs, and we don’t know how to write bug-free software. And until we can write bug-free software, we will always have potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited by other people.”

Yet, the birth of the Internet has now revolutionized communication, e-commerce and so many other parts of our world — that all began decades ago with a simple email message between two distant computers in California!

Richard Sergay
Chief Curator

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DARPA Challenge: Behind the Scenes

Here at CuriosityStream, our series and documentaries cover everything from the origins of the universe to the cultural and technical revolutions that created the world we recognize today. But we don’t stop there. Beyond our rich history looms another vast expanse of time: the future. Technology is shaping even the most fundamental aspects of our human experience. Who knows what the world of tomorrow will actually look like? The DARPA Robotics Challenge might give us a sneak peek.

This week, beginning on June 5th, the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) will highlight the most cutting-edge robotics technology being developed around the world. And you can watch it live right here on live.CuriosityStream.com. 25 teams will face off in California, putting their robots to the test against some of the most technically challenging real-life tasks designed by man.

DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – is often called the mad science division of the Pentagon. The idea of the robotics challenge came about after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011. DARPA scientists wondered, could robots have done what man couldn’t do in that disaster? Could robots have saved the day? When I talked to Gill Pratt, Program Manager for the Robotics Challenge, about Fukushima, he told me: “…That first day, if human beings or anyone had been able to open the ventilation valves…[the] three big explosions would not have occurred.” Could a machine be designed to go where sending humans would be too dangerous, if not impossible? And the Robotics Challenge was born.

I’ve been lucky enough to follow two competing teams on the road to the Robotics Challenge — Tartan Rescue and Team ViGIR. And let’s get one thing straight: even though the event takes place right outside of Los Angeles, these are not Hollywood’s robots. They’re not capable of running 60 miles per hour or jumping over buildings. And they’re certainly not a heartbeat away from becoming self-aware and taking over the world. But they do represent the pinnacle of human engineering and software development achievement to date.

Florian is Team ViGIR’s robot entry. The 6’ 2”, 300-pound humanoid machine lacks the dexterity of an adult human, but it’s hugely powerful and more than capable of tackling the myriad of disaster-related tasks for which it has been designed. I found it fascinating that Florian was designed by a team with members from several international universities. They collaborated across nine different time zones! Despite the challenges they faced, including a late arrival of their robot and a broken arm close to the contest date, I felt their exuberant energy when I met them. They truly embody the enthusiasm and forward-thinking dynamic that defines the robotics community.

Tartan Rescue’s CHIMP robot is another terrific example of today’s most sophisticated robotic capabilities. Inspired by previous autonomous vehicle technology, CHIMP can move on all four limbs, or stand and walk. This simian-inspired machine finished third during the 2013 trials, and is currently one of the heavy favorites to take the win.

Regardless of the outcome, the DRC is a testament to how far robotics have evolved over the last few years. While the AI machines of the silver screen won’t be on display, what you will see is the cutting-edge work that may one day get us there. Remember to check out the Robotics Challenge live, right here on CuriosityStream.

Jorge Franzini

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Social Media Reaches Beyond Digital

In a digital world flooded with information and choices, one thing remains unchanged: curiosity is still at the core of everything we do. We are curious about the news, the weather, how our brain works, what lives in outer space, and so many other things. This constant search has enabled us to create online communities, where shared interests are present and we can find bonds with individuals all across the world. Our lives are now filled with social online interactions that come to be an extension of our physical reality.

For CuriosityStream, social media outlets represent the right fit between offering the best factual programming in the digital space and bringing together the community of the curious; while encouraging you to continue the exploration of the great questions of our time through interviews and documentaries available on our platform. Furthermore, it provides us with the opportunity to directly listen to our audience, take in your suggestions and maintain an open line of communication.

We like to keep things interesting and fun. By providing behind-the-scenes updates from our Curiosity Studios, sharing previews of shows available on our site and promoting upcoming releases – we hope to maintain and grow a distinct online presence, that truly reflects the nature of CuriosityStream and what being curious is all about.

I invite you to follow us and of course, join the conversation!






Laura Santana
Marketing and Production Coordinator

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Curiosity Luminary Rick Smolan: “I have become a convert.”

I’m really looking forward to my first Curiosity Retreat later this month, and the chance to brainstorm the future with some of the smartest people in the world.

I’m honored to be sharing a fascinating journey I’ve been on for the past 18 months, exploring a strange new land, widely talked about in labs and boardrooms from Palo Alto to Bangalore, as the world of Big Data. As with all the best journeys, when I began there were no maps to guide me, just helpful fellow travelers also trying to navigate a wild and uncharted territory.

Along the way, I asked many experts to help me understand what Big Data really means. Some define Big Data as more than what can be stored on a personal computer. Others say it isn’t just the quantity of information, but the tools that show the patterns within it. Still others choose to be metaphorical: Big Data, they told me, is the process of helping the planet grow a nervous system, one in which we are all evolving into human sensors.

The overarching message I came away with is that we are witnessing something the human race has never experienced before. The real-time visualization of data streaming in from satellites, and from billions of sensors, RFID tags, and GPS-enabled cameras and smartphones, is enabling humanity, in real time, to sense, measure, understand, and affect aspects of our existence in ways our ancestors could never have imagined in their wildest dreams.

In the lecture I’ve been invited to share at the Curiosity Retreat, I’m going to share a wide array of examples of how Big Data, still in its infancy, is sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, health care, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us, both as individuals and as a society, to provide a healthier life for our children; to provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe; to conserve precious resources like water and energy; to peer into our own individual genetic makeup; to create new forms of life. And soon, many predict, to reengineer our own species. And yet, we’ve barely scratched the surface.…

To be honest, at the beginning of this project I was skeptical of the many claims I heard that Big Data might one day turn out to be more transformative than the Internet. Having now traversed vast regions of this new land, I have become a convert. I am now convinced that Big Data may well turn out to be the most powerful tool set the human race will have to address the widespread challenges facing our species and our planet.

Like all new tools, Big Data carries the potential for unintended consequences. But if we are careful and wise, in the not too distant future this new set of technologies may have an impact on humanity as great as those of language and art.


Rick Smolan
Against All Odds Productions

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The Search for Intelligent Life and a Champagne toast

It is a question as enduring as time itself: “Are we alone in the Universe?” Astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter, who is the former Director of the SETI Institute (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has been asking that critical question for most of her professional life. And, of course as we know – it remains unknown, and perhaps unknowable – for now. I interviewed Dr. Tarter about the potential for such an historic discovery at our Curiosity Studio in Gateway, Colorado:

“I think there is a possibility for life, and some of it being intelligent to exist beyond the earth…We are made out of the elements that were fused up inside massive stars that blew up billions of years ago…Although we can’t tell you exactly how the chemistry turned into biology, it clearly did on this planet a long time ago.”

An intriguing and unanswered key question is what should Planet Earth do if intelligent life is found elsewhere in the Cosmos? Should humans actively reach out? Or should we stay silent? Are there inherent dangers and risks if Earth does make contact with alien life? Are we prepared as a planet? Are the right protocols in place? Who would actually speak for Planet Earth, and what would we say? Well, Dr. Tarter thinks it is worth the risk:

“Well, I think it would change everything and change everything quite quickly. So the very first thing that we’re going to do is drink champagne that’s been sitting in the refrigerator for all these decades. And then we’ll get busy with the follow up protocol. This is pretty big stuff.”

I asked Dr. Tarter what are the tools and technology scientists are using to explore the universe for intelligent life? It is called a radio telescope and Dr. Tarter explains how it works:

“We can take a lot of energy and compress it all into just one channel on a radio dial where nature is more profligate. Nature spreads the energy she emits over many, many frequencies. For efficiency, we compress it into one and that doesn’t look like Mother Nature. So that’s our sandbox, kinds of signals that don’t appear to be the sorts of things that nature can create.”

So for now, fifty years or so into the search, Dr. Tarter and the scientists at SETI continue their unique exploration of the Cosmos, hoping that one day, or night, Planet Earth might hear that ping…and then…!


Richard Sergay
Chief Curator

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