The Human Spark

  • 2010
  • TV Show
  • TV-PG

An exploration of what differentiates humans from other species, investigating our ability to think in symbols, write and imagine the unimaginable.

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The Human Spark
After some three and a half billion years of life's evolution on this planet - and after almost two million years since people recognizable as human f (more…)
Cooperation
00:19 — A brief look at the cooperative and social nature of humans.
A Matter of Size
03:03 — A look at the brains of a rat, monkey, chimp and human and a discussion of why some brains are bigger than others.
Beyond the Present
00:52 — A look at humans' unique ability to reflect upon events that have happened in the past and think about things that could possibly happen in the future (more…)
If It Ain't Broke...
01:24 — Archaeologist John Shea explains the context and construction of one of early humans' first tools-the stone hand ax.
Alan Alda and Man's Best Friend
05:11 — Alan Alda visits a dog lab where researchers are investigating communication talents our canine companions have that our much closer relatives the chi (more…)
The Brain in Action
06:50 — A look at the regions of the brain that are activated during different tasks.
Human Language
01:35 — A look at the difference between human language and other species' communication systems.
Insight and Imagination
02:15 — An overview of how insight and imagination distinguish humans from others.
So Human, So Chimp
54:42 — Alan Alda joins researchers studying human children and chimpanzees to discover why we share some skills with our closest living relatives, but have f (more…)
Becoming Us
54:41 — Series host and narrator, Alan Alda, confronts the puzzle of why our ancestors in Africa got the Spark and evolved into us, while the first humans to (more…)
Links in the Evolutionary Chain
04:29 — An exploration of some of the different characteristics that distinguish different branches of the hominid 'family tree,' such as brain and face size, (more…)
To Make A Spear
04:32 — Archaeologist John Shea demonstrates the construction of a primitive spear and explains its impact on the social development the early humans who use (more…)
Running = Big Brains?
03:55 — Alan Alda talks to scientist Dan Lieberman about why the human ability to run could be an important prerequisite for the evolution of our bigger brain (more…)
Brain Matters
54:12 — Peer into Alan Alda's head to find out which parts of our brain are responsible for our most human characteristics. Where do tool use and language re (more…)
Scanning the Brain
06:50 — An introduction to MRI scans.
Monkeys and Magic Fruit
05:00 — Researcher Laurie Santos demonstrates an illusion test she runs on free-ranging monkeys in Puerto Rico. Seeing how the monkeys respond opens a window (more…)
Human Nature
04:45 — A look at the ways in which monkeys and apes are similar to humans, not just biologically but mentally and socially.

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  • Premiered: January 6, 2010
  • Rating: TV-PG
  • Premise: An exploration of what differentiates humans from other species, investigating our ability to think in symbols, write and imagine the unimaginable. (more)

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