Explore Our World

Explore Our World is a series that allows its viewers to explore a number of different aspects of nature throughout the entire world. Every episode is based on something different. From villages to poets to Doris Lessing, viewers can be sure to always find out something new about the world around them.

BBC
3 Seasons, 31 Episodes
February 25, 2009
Nature, History, Learning & Education
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Explore Our World
Episodes

Explore Our World Full Episode Guide

  • Discover the realities of living as a member of the US Military Personnel while on a tour of duty. Witness the first-hand accounts of the difficulties and dangers of fighting in the Vietnam conflict in a series of candid and poignant interviews. The accumulating trauma and mounting disillusionment of troops is clear to see, but so too is the bravery and devotion to duty of the American men and women serving in this war. From the ballad-singing helicopter pilot suffering from the loss of several compatriots to the medical staff on call around the clock treating soldiers with horrific injuries, discover the personal stories behind the harrowing conflict in Vietnam. Many young men and women were exposed to traumatic events in this war, and for many the end rarely seemed in sight.

  • Learn how many observers at the time came to view the American involvement in the Vietnam conflict as a quagmire, or a military involvement with no clear way to withdraw troops or exit the conflict. While President Nixon pushed for a process of Vietnamization, in which South Vietnamese would step into the positions held by American troops, further attacks and battles on the North Vietnamese frontiers took place. Major incidents including Firebase Gerry and the battles of Du Bop and Hill 423 complicated this plan even further, and it began to be clear that the American forces were the real target in these operations, rather than the South Vietnamese. In addition to this, large caches of weapons were discovered and the conflict began to spill over into Cambodia.

  • Known as one of the bloodiest battles in the Vietnam conflict, the Battle of Hue was part of the TET Offensive of 1968. Hue was taken over by North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces, and the US military fought to regain it in a grueling street-by-street battle, in which by increments the well-fortified citadel of the city was recaptured. Thousands of civilians were rounded up and executed, before being buried in mass graves, and the onslaught was indiscriminate. The five-day battle, fought 'inch by shattered inch,' bombarded an estimated eighty percent of the city's structures. As Marine Captain Myron Harrington asked, 'Did we have to destroy the city in order to save it?'

  • Between January and April of 1968, the US marine post of Khe Sanh came under heavy fire from North Vietnamese forces. Learn how the US military responded to these attacks, launching an intensive aerial attack, dropping thousands of tonnes of explosives on the areas surrounding Khe Sanh in a bombardment the like of which had never been seen in the history of warfare. See how more primitive techniques accompanied this onslaught, such as tunnelling and the use of divining rods and stethoscopes to detect hidden bunkers and tunnels. Shorter-range combat is revealed here too, thanks to risky camerawork at ground level, and trench warfare is enacted between the besieged and the attacking North Vietnamese troops.

  • Between January and April of 1968, the US marine post of Khe Sanh came under heavy fire from North Vietnamese forces. Learn how the US military responded to these attacks, launching an intensive aerial attack, dropping thousands of tonnes of explosives on the areas surrounding Khe Sanh in a bombardment the like of which had never been seen in the history of warfare. Witness the responses of soldiers caught in the siege, and their feelings of anxiety and fear in the face of this lengthy and unpredictable attack. Although the battle of Khe Sanh was eventually won by US forces, was it really a tactical or strategic achievement or simply an accomplished mission?

  • Take a look at the anti-war movement in the wake of new draft laws in the US during the Vietnam War. When fighting for the American forces stopped being a matter of choice, resistance to the draft laws began to rise. By the 1960s this became a significant movement and generated a societal conflict of its own. Forums and advice seminars on ways to avoid the draft took place across the Sates, while those already engaged in battle were interviewed in opposition to the objectors. Witness the accompanying pop culture movement to end the war and the draft law in the form of protest songs and radical publications, as well as the intervention of religious and spiritual figureheads, and how this tied in to the end of the conflict in Vietnam.

  • Learn how the Vietnam War was the first major conflict to appear on people's televisions every night, as the conflict escalated in tandem with the rise of television news reportage. The constant and relentless images of skirmishes and raids descending into sheer brutality presented the news of war in a different light, and the futility of many missions led spectators around the world to question the tactics and motivations of the US involvement. Watch original news reports from the era and see how this became a 'living room war,' in which it became clear that confusion and disarray took hold of many operations. How did this news coverage affect the public image of war, and how did the various responses to it shape the way of conflict as we know it today?

  • The incident of 'the Gulf of Tonkin' refers to two connected skirmishes off the coast of North Vietnam which have long been shrouded in mystery, and the circumstances of which are still subject to doubt and controversy. See how the report of an attack on US Destroyer Maddox led to a second, disputed report of an attack, and how this in turn was instrumental in passing the Southeast Asia Resolution, meaning that US forces could be deployed here by President Lyndon B Johnson without a declaration of war from Congress. Learn how the response to alleged events set a pattern for military responses from the US, and how the President was given powers to wage war, without declaring war, based on events that may never have happened.

  • Here we see the origins of the term 'domino theory,' or what President Eisenhower termed 'the falling domino principle,' in which Communism was seen as a movement that would spread in a linear fashion from one region to the other. Witness news reports from the period that chart the development of the Vietnam conflict, starting with the American commitment to defend South Vietnam, and moving on to cover the escalating involvement of American troops and the heavy losses of life that ensued on both sides. These stories also focus on the end of the French empire and the withdrawal of the French legions, giving a wider perspective to this lengthy conflict. See how the scale of this war began to mount on all sides, and how a strategy of containment led the United States to commit so many resources over sixteen years of fighting.

  • In the natural world there are amazing ways of protecting and preparing the young to go out into the world. Watch as a nearly blind elephant calf learns to trek for food, a newborn gazelle runs form danger before his first feed and a protective mother hippo watches her baby surface from underwater to take its first breath. See a wildebeest's maternal instincts kick in as she fiercely shields her cub from hyenas and how a gorilla family prepares their offspring for adulthood.

  • Whether on land or underwater the beginning of a young animal's life will be the foundation for its understanding of the world. Entering a perilous environment, these youngsters need to learn the skills to survive within minutes of being born. Discover species where fathers give birth, creatures expand 20,000 times in size and which reptiles bury their eggs in termite mounds for up to 9 months. Explore the eating habits of seahorses, metamorphosis of caterpillars and the protective nature of monitor lizards as their offspring adapt to their new homes.

  • The often perilous first steps in a young animal's life will form the basis of its understanding of the world. Although an elephant can survive over two weeks without water, elephant families annually trek for miles to return to watering holes, guided by their remarkable memory of previous journeys. Watch orangutans, the largest tree dwelling animals in the world, navigate treetops in their never-ending search for food. We think it is natural for apes to climb trees; but it takes a youngster a year to attempt its first solo climb. This is also the first step in a longer climb - towards independence. In this episode, see how a mother cheetah, the world's fastest sprinting mammal, teaches her cubs to master a kill. And observe young grisly bears climb through the snow to Arctic rivers in Alaska to fish for their first salmon.

  • Discover a miniature universe within our world teaming with life. Using remarkable micro and macro photography learn how some of the smallest and perhaps most bizarre members of the animal kingdom construct different styles of shelter around the world. See miniscule architectural designers use their sophisticated skills and materials around them to build incredible structures. In this episode, female potter wasps use a ceramics technique to build mud pots to house their eggs, blind termites build complex skyscrapers with their own system of air-conditioning, and black fly larvae withstand the force of water to protect their homes by producing silk lifelines. Follow these tiny builders as they survive in the most extreme conditions.

  • Experience nature's journeys which stretch the limit of human imagination. Watch epic migrations by land, sea and air as animals traverse the world in an unrelenting search of food. Follow humpback whales through five months of fasting as they navigate the ocean in the longest migration of any mammal; join a million wildebeest as they trek both day and night across the East African savannah and chase summer with swallows in their six thousand mile flight from England to Africa.

  • Follow the marathon travellers of the natural kingdom on their incredible journeys, unravelling some of the great mysteries of migration. Why do animals and even some plants undertake these odysseys and how do they accomplish the extraordinary navigational feats that are often involved? Follow snow geese, salmon and turtles on their urgent mission to breed and reproduce. Learn how snow geese make their way from the marshlands in New Mexico using a complex system of magnetic fields and sunlight in order to find their way North, with astonishing accuracy. Watch salmon face a wide range of predators, from grizzly bears to scavenging eels, which ensures only the strongest get to complete their journey. Next, the green turtle moves from the tropical reefs to join other turtles across the ocean to return to the breeding grounds of their birth.

  • How much do we really know about greenhouse gases, why the dinosaurs disappeared and the delicate balance that sustains life on Earth? 65 million years ago one event led to the extinction of dinosaurs. Huge volcanoes erupted, filling the sky with green house gases and led to Global Warming. Today, the burning of fossil fuels is causing the same effect by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and thickening the greenhouse blanket around the Earth. Are the same factors that decimated the creatures of the Triassic Age threatening to push our species on Earth today to extinction?

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