Big Bang Aftershock • 2015

Category: Astronomy

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.

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Einstein predicted strange cosmic phenomena known as white holes, but scientists have yet to prove they exist; as experts investigate the tiny black holes that hide in the most ancient parts of the universe, they might finally find the smoking gun.

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Beginning with the origins of the universe in the Big Bang, Sagan describes the formation of different types of galaxies and anomalies such as galactic collisions and quasars. The episodes moves further into ideas about the structure of the Universe, such as different dimensions (in the imaginary Flatland and four-dimensional hypercubes), an infinite vs. a finite universe, and the idea of an oscillating Universe (similar to that in Hindu cosmology). The search into other ideas such as dark matter and the multiverse is shown, using tools such as the Very Large Array in New Mexico. Cosmos Update shows new information about the odd, irregular surfaces of galaxies and the Milky Way perhaps being a barred spiral galaxy.

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On Earth and in the Universe, size matters, but it matters in different ways. In Space, bigger is not necessarily better.


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The Search for Life: The Drake Equation

For many years our place in the universe was the subject of theologians and philosophers, not scientists, but in 1960 one man changed all that. Dr Frank Drake was one of the leading lights in the new science of radio astronomy when he did something that was not only revolutionary, but could have cost him his career. Working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenback in Virginia, he pointed one of their new 25-metre radio telescopes at a star called Tau Ceti twelve light years from earth, hoping for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.