I'm a huge fan of documentaries, I watch at least half a dozen of them every week. For me, documentaries are inspiring, educational, keep me up to date on current and past global affairs and can get my creative juices flowing.
Documentaries can be on all sorts of topics from biographies of famous and not so famous people, information on scientific discoveries and how they impact the world, psychology, economics, etc. Often I'll watch one that I know a little bit about, and end up learning a ton of information on the subject.
Below is a list, split into categories of my favorite documentaries of recent times.
Here are some documentaries, and documentary television series in recent years about science that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Even though I am not a physicist and have never studied this field of science except in high school, I have always been fascinated in it and these shows have helped me really understand this broad topic and how physics effects everything around us.
Horizon - The Big Bang Machine
This episode of the fantastic and long running BBC show Horizon stars physicist Brian Cox. In it, he takes you around the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. In it he also explains what this amazing experiment is about, and how they're using it to look for the Higgs Boson, and other physics unknowns.
Through the Wormhole
Morgan Freeman hosts this series which delves into numerous scientific topics that are all extremely interesting. This is an ongoing series that features a vast array of scientific experts and aims to explain big questions like "are we alone in the universe", "is there a creator" and "is there life after death". The show uses science to attempt to answer these questions and not speculation, often simply explaining only what we know of, and often creating more questions.
I've found every single episode fascinating to say the least, and would recommend that everybody watch it. The series has 17 episodes spanning two seasons, and not word yet if they are going to create more episodes.
Nova - The Elegant Universe
This series is presented by famous physicist Brian Greene, as it's based on his book of the same title. He delves into modern physics known as "String Theory", this theory is purely theoretical and itself has many versions in the physics community. In a nutshell this theory is a crack to unify the four forces of physics, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces and gravity.
The world economy has been shaky in the past few years, and every country around the world is effected, not just the United States. Here are some amazing documentaries explaining current events and how they came to be.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
A documentary about one of the biggest corporate scandals in US history and based upon the book of the same name.
This documentary is just as much about the people involved than the money aspect. It's a truly fascinating and almost crazy story well worth watching.
Civilization: Is the West History
This mini-series is all about consumerism and how western civilization beat the east, up until recent times however. Host Neil Ferguson delves into the history of East vs. West, and tries to answer the question: is the west about to be overtaken by the east?
Million Dollar Traders
This is a story about the world of stock traders and how money is made from short trading. Based in the London trading district known as "The City", a well known hedge fund manager recruits 10 regular people from a wide array of jobs to see if they can be turned into stock traders in a very short period.
College Conspiracy (National Inflation Association)
Brought to you by the National Inflation Association, this feature length documentary shows how in these modern times college may not be your best bet in terms of getting ahead in life. Not to say that post secondary education is a bad thing, but they want to illustrate that the debt levels for students are higher than they've ever been and in the US, students aren't allowed to default on their loans. Combine that with the fact that they likely won't be a job waiting for you after you're finished your education and unless you're in the right field you may end up being extremely broke.
There is a massive amount of technology documentaries out there, these are the ones that I enjoyed the most. From a biography on Nikola Tesla to a mini-series on how the internet was created and how it has changed itself and the world dramatically over the lifetime of it's existence.
This brilliant mini-series documentary by the BBC brings you on a journey through over two decades of the internet and how it has changed the world.
A one hour documentary about the power of mass collaboration over the internet. It also delves how governments are involved, and details various popular social networks.
Nikola Tesla: The Genius Who Lit the World
This is a documentary that shows the absolute genius of Nikola Tesla and how his amazing inventions and innovations changed the world.
He is known for inventing AC current and had patents that formed the basis of wireless communication and the radio. He demonstrated revolutionary experiments involving electromagnetism because of these and other amazing feats and claims, he was often ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist.
A film about man creating artificial intelligence machines that could one day surpass the intelligence of mankind. It also delves into topics like humans enhancing themselves into cyborgs, and the philosophy that surrounds these topics.