The discovery of gravity waves in early 2013 was huge news around the world ... and so was the retraction after the scientists realized they'd made a mistake. This is a dramatic human story of brave scientists and big science in action at the South Pole.
With repeated triumphs and new challenges comes increasing risk, until loss breaks the pattern. The white-knuckle suspense thriller of Apollo 13's famous near-disaster is only a triumphant prelude to darker moments ahead. The launch of the space shuttle program promises routine trips to Earth orbit for many new astronauts. But just when that promise seems fulfilled, routine shuttle launches begin to bore the public. NASA responds by training a school-teacher to fly, in order to teach children lessons from space. Christa McAuliffe's life is tragically cut short as she and the rest of the crew perish aboard the shuttle Challenger. All missions are halted. Eventually the shuttle returns to orbit, for fifteen years of successful missions until disaster strikes again with the shocking loss of Columbia. It would be the beginning of the end for the shuttle.
Professor Brian Cox explores the powerhouse of them all, the sun. In India he witnesses a total solar eclipse and in Norway, he watches the battle between the sun's wind and Earth, as the night sky glows with the northern lights. Beyond earth, the solar wind continues, creating dazzling aurora on other planets.
The Ship of the Imagination travels back in time to reveal 11th century Europe and North Africa during the golden age of Islam, when brilliant physicist Ibn al-Haytham discovered the scientific method and first understood how we see, and how light travels. Later, William Herschel discovers the infrared and the signature hidden in the light of every star, eventually unlocking one of the keys to the cosmos.