Cosmic Dawn: The Real Moment of Creation • 2015 Horizon

Category: Astronomy
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Forget the big bang. The real moment of creation was the Cosmic Dawn - the moment of first light. This is the scientific version of the story of Genesis. The big bang gets all the credit for creating our universe. But in fact, the universe it gave was dark and boring. There were no stars, no galaxies, just a vast, black fog of gas - the cosmic dark ages. But, after a hundred million years of nothing, came a dramatic moment of transformation - the Cosmic Dawn. It's the moment the first stars were born, the moment that lit up the Universe, and made the first structure and the first ingredients of life. This was the real moment of creation. Astronomers are now trying to witness the cosmic dawn. For the first time they have the tools to explore the very first stars of the universe and to tell the scientific story of our creation.

Horizon • 0 • 44 episodes •

How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth

In a Horizon special, naturalist Sir David Attenborough investigates whether the world is heading for a population crisis.

2009 • Environment

How Small is the Universe?

Horizon plunges down the biggest rabbit-hole in history in search of the smallest thing in the Universe. It is a journey where things don't just become smaller but also a whole lot weirder. Scientists hope to catch a glimpse of miniature black holes, multiple dimensions and even parallel Universes.

Physics

Mission to Mars

Horizon goes behind the scenes at NASA as they countdown to the landing of a 2.5 billion-dollar rover on the surface of Mars. In six days time, the nuclear-powered vehicle - the size of a car - will be winched down onto the surface of the Red Planet from a rocket-powered crane. That's if things go according to plan: Mars has become known as the Bermuda Triangle of space because so many missions there have ended in failure. The Curiosity mission is the most audacious - and expensive - attempt to answer the question: is there life on Mars?

Astronomy

Don't Grow Old

For centuries scientists have been attempting to come up with an elixir of youth. Now remarkable discoveries are suggesting that ageing is something flexible that can ultimately be manipulated.

Health

The End of God?

As the Pope ends his visit to Britain, historian Dr Thomas Dixon delves into the BBC's archive to explore the troubled relationship between religion and science. From the creationists of America to the physicists of the Large Hadron Collider, he traces the expansion of scientific knowledge and asks whether there is still room for God in the modern world.

People

Parallel Universes

Everything you're about to see here seems impossible and insane, beyond science fiction. Yet it's all true.

Astronomy

Secrets of the Solar System

New planets are now being discovered outside our solar system on a regular basis, and these strange new worlds are forcing scientists to rewrite the history of our own solar system. Far from a simple story of stable orbits, the creation of our solar system is a tale of hellfire, chaos and planetary pinball. It's a miracle our Earth is here at all.

Astronomy

Climate Change: A Horizon Guide

Dr Helen Czerski delves into the Horizon archive to chart the transformation of a little-known theory into one of the greatest scientific undertakings in history.

Environment

Aftershock: The Hunt for Gravitational Waves

Horizon travels to the South Pole to tell the inside story of the greatest scientific quest of our time. In March 2014, a team of astronomers stunned the scientific world when they announced that their BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole had possibly detected a signal of “gravitational waves” from the early universe. This is the inside story of the hunt for gravitational waves from the beginning of time.

Physics

Dancing in the Dark: The End of Physics?

Scientists genuinely don't know what most of our universe is made of. The atoms we're made from only make up four per cent. The rest is dark matter and dark energy (for 'dark', read 'don't know'). The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has been upgraded. When it's switched on in March 2015, its collisions will have twice the energy they did before. The hope is that scientists will discover the identity of dark matter in the debris. The stakes are high - because if dark matter fails to show itself, it might mean that physics itself needs a rethink.

Physics

Is Binge Drinking Really that Bad?

How bad can our drinking pattern be for our health? Doctors and genetically identical twins Chris and Xand van Tulleken want to find out. With the current drinking guidelines under review, the twins embark on self-experimentation to see the effects of different drinking patterns on their health. With Chris drinking 21 units spread evenly across the week and Xand having his 21 in single weekly binges, how will their bodies differ after a month? Catching up with the latest research into alcohol drinking patterns, we ask if moderate drinking is genuinely good for us - and whether binge drinking is really that bad.

Health

The Trouble with Space Junk

In 2014, the International Space Station had to move three times to avoid lethal chunks of space debris and there is an increasing problem of satellites mysteriously breaking down. With first-hand accounts from astronauts and experts, Horizon reveals the scale of the problem of space junk. Our planet is surrounded by hundreds of millions of pieces of junk moving at 17,000 miles per hour. Now the US government is investing a billion dollars to track them, and companies around the world are developing ways to clear up their mess - from robot arms to nets and harpoons. Horizon investigates the science behind the hit film Gravity and discovers the reality is far more worrying than the Hollywood fiction.

2015 • Astronomy

Are Health Tests Really a Good Idea?

Michael Mosley puts himself through a battery of health tests available to people who feel perfectly well. From an expensive heart scan to a new national screening procedure to detect the earliest signs of bowel cancer, Mosley sets out to discover which if any of the tests are worth doing.

2015 • Health

OCD: A Monster in my Mind

Most of us think that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is just over fussy tidying. But it's actually much more serious. Sophie has to check that she hasn't killed people, looking for dead bodies wherever she goes, Richard is terrified of touching the bin, and Nanda is about to have pioneering brain surgery to stop her worrying about components on her body - that her eyebrow might not be aligned or that she has bad breath. Professor Uta Frith meets the people living with OCD, looks at the therapy available and asks what neuroscience can offer by way of a cure.

2015 • Brain

Which Universe Are We In?

Imagine a world where dinosaurs still walk the earth. A world where the Germans won World War II and you are president of the United States. Imagine a world where the laws of physics no longer apply and where infinite copies of you are playing out every storyline of your life. It sounds like a plot stolen straight from Hollywood, but far from it. This is the multiverse. Until very recently the whole idea of the multiverse was dismissed as a fantasy, but now this strangest of ideas is at the cutting edge of science. And for a growing number of scientists, the multiverse is the only way we will ever truly make sense of the world we are in. Horizon asks the question: Do multiple universes exist? And if so, which one are we actually in?

2015 • Astronomy

Cosmic Dawn: The Real Moment of Creation

Forget the big bang. The real moment of creation was the Cosmic Dawn - the moment of first light. This is the scientific version of the story of Genesis. The big bang gets all the credit for creating our universe. But in fact, the universe it gave was dark and boring. There were no stars, no galaxies, just a vast, black fog of gas - the cosmic dark ages. But, after a hundred million years of nothing, came a dramatic moment of transformation - the Cosmic Dawn. It's the moment the first stars were born, the moment that lit up the Universe, and made the first structure and the first ingredients of life. This was the real moment of creation. Astronomers are now trying to witness the cosmic dawn. For the first time they have the tools to explore the very first stars of the universe and to tell the scientific story of our creation.

2015 • Astronomy

Are Video Games Really that Bad?

The video game industry is a global phenomenon. There are over 1.2 billion gamers across the planet, with sales projected soon to pass $100 billion per year. But their very popularity fuels the controversy that surrounds them. They frequently stand accused of corrupting the young - of causing violence and addiction. But is this true? Horizon reveals a scientific community deeply divided. Some are convinced that video games incite aggression. Others insist they have no effect whatsoever on real-world violence. But away from the controversy, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests video games may help keep the brain sharp, and could soon revolutionise how we combat mental decline as we age.

2015 • Lifehack

What makes a genius?

Could you have come up with Einstein's theory of relativity? If not - why not? This is what Marcus du Sautoy, professor of mathematics, wants to explore. Marcus readily admits that he is no genius, but wants to know if geniuses are just an extreme version of himself - or whether their brains are fundamentally different.

2010 • Brain

Man on Mars: Mission to the Red Planet

Horizon goes behind the scenes at Nasa to discover how it is preparing for its most ambitious and daring mission: to land men - and possibly women - on the surface of Mars.

2014 • Astronomy

How to be an Astronaut

On the 15th Dec 2015, Tim Peake will launch into space to be Britain's first astronaut on board the International Space Station. For the past two years, Tim has been filming a video diary for Horizon showing the risks, pressures and rigorous training required to launch into space. Horizon also talks exclusively to his wife and two children as they prepare to wave him goodbye on his voyage to space. From training in the Soyuz capsule, centrifuges, space station mockups, virtual reality and a huge pool to replicate spacewalks, to dealing with the physical dangers of weightlessness, witnessing his first launch and spending time away from his wife Rebecca and his two sons, this is an intimate portrait and remarkable insight into the world of an astronaut.

2015 • Astronomy

The Immortalist

The story of how one Russian internet millionaire is turning to cutting-edge science to try to unlock the secret of living forever. Dmitry Itskov recently brought together some of the world's leading neuroscientists, robot builders and consciousness researchers to try to devise a system that would allow him to escape his biological destiny. Entering Dmitry's seemingly sci-fi world, Horizon investigates the real science inspiring his bold plan to upload the human mind to a computer. There are doubters - like the major neuroscientist who tells us 'it's too stupid, it simply cannot be done'. But as we also meet the Japanese maker of Erica, one of the world's most human-like robots, who tells us the destiny of humans is to become robots to overcome the constraints of time, see how a quadriplegic Californian man is already controlling a robot arm with his thoughts, and explore the groundbreaking work of the scientist behind the world's largest neuroscience project - the $6 billion US Brain Initiative - who tells us the effort to map all the activity of the brain could be a crucial step towards mind uploading, Horizon asks is it really so crazy to think Dmitry Itskov could succeed in his goal of bringing about immortality for all of us within 30 years?

2016 • Health

Project Greenglow: The Quest for Gravity Control

The story of an extraordinary scientific adventure - the attempt to control gravity. For centuries, the precise workings of gravity have confounded the greatest scientific minds, and the idea of controlling gravity has been seen as little more than a fanciful dream. Yet in the mid 1990s, UK defence manufacturer BAE Systems began a groundbreaking project code-named Greenglow, which set about turning science fiction into reality. On the other side of the Atlantic, Nasa was simultaneously running its own Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project. It was concerned with potential space applications of new physics, including concepts like 'faster-than-light travel' and 'warp drives'. Horizon explores science's long-standing obsession with the idea of gravity control. It looks at recent breakthroughs in the search for loopholes in conventional physics and examines how the groundwork carried out by Project Greenglow has helped change our understanding of the universe.

2016 • Physics

The End of the Solar System

This is the story of how our solar system will be transformed by the aging sun before coming to a spectacular end in about eight billion years. Astronomers can peer into the far future to predict how it will happen by analysing distant galaxies, stars and even planets in their final moments. In this film, Horizon brings these predictions to life in a peaceful midwestern town that has a giant scale model of the solar system spread out all over the city. As it ages, the sun will bloat into a red giant star, swallowing planets... as well as half the town. The fate of the Earth itself hangs in the balance. How will the solar system end?

2016 • Astronomy

Should We Close Our Zoos

Liz Bonnin presents a controversial and provocative episode of Horizon, investigating how new scientific research is raising hard questions about zoos - the film explores how and why zoos keep animals, and whether they need to change to keep up with modern science, or ultimately be consigned to history. Should zoos cull their animals to manage populations? Liz travels to Copenhagen Zoo, who killed a giraffe and fed it to the lions, to witness their culling process first hand. They think it is a natural part of zoo keeping that is often swept under the carpet. Should some animals never be kept in captivity? In a world exclusive, Liz visits SeaWorld in Florida and asks if captivity drove one of their orcas to kill his trainer. But could zoos be the answer to conserving endangered species? Liz examines their record, from helping breed pandas for the wild to efforts to save the rhinos. She meets one of the last surviving northern white rhinos and discovers the future of this species now lies in a multimillion-dollar programme to engineer them for stem cells. Veteran conservation scientist Dr Sarah Bexell tells Liz the science of captive breeding is giving humanity false hope.

2016 • Nature

E-Cigarettes: Miracle or Menace

Michael Mosley investigates the dramatic rise in e-cigarettes. They're everywhere these days, but what does the latest scientific research on them reveal? Michael reveals what e-cigarettes are really doing to your health. Are they really better for you than cigarettes? What is actually in them? Is passive vapour harmful? And can they really stop you from smoking? Michael meets some of the scientists around the world studying them, asks a group of volunteers to try to give up smoking regular cigarettes using them, and even takes up 'vaping' himself, smoking an e-cigarette every day for a month to see the effects on his own health - no easy task for such a committed non-smoker.

2016 • Health

Why are We Getting So Fat?

Over 62 per cent of adults in the UK are currently overweight or obese and this figure is set to rise. A common attitude is that obese people should be ashamed - it is their fault, they have no will power and if they could just 'eat less and exercise more', the problem would soon be solved. Yet, despite millions of pounds being spent on this simple message, the UK is getting fatter every year. Cambridge geneticist Dr Giles Yeo believes that for many obese people, simply eating less is a lot harder than you might think - and he is taking a road trip around the UK and America to uncover why. He meets the real people behind some of the more shocking newspaper headlines and, through their stories, reveals surprising truths which dispel commonly held myths about obesity. He gains access to scientists and doctors trialling cutting-edge techniques to tackle the crisis - from a 'miracle' hormone injection to a transfusion of faecal matter, and even learns a thing or two about his own size and relationship with food.

2016 • Health

Stuff: A Horizon Guide to Materials

Engineer Jem Stansfield looks back through the Horizon archives to find out how scientists have come to understand and manipulate the materials that built the modern world. Whether it's uncovering new materials or finding fresh uses for those we've known about for centuries, each breakthrough offers a tantalising glimpse of the holy grail of materials science - a substance that's cheap to produce and has the potential to change our world. Jem explores how a series of extraordinary advances have done just that - from superconductors to the silicon revolution.

2012 • Physics

Inside Cern

With exclusive behind-the-scenes access, Horizon follows the highs and lows of an extraordinary story in particle physics. In June 2015, teams at CERN started running the large hadron collider at the highest energy ever. Rumours quickly emerged that they were on the brink of a huge discovery. A mysterious bump in some data suggested a first glimpse of a brand new particle that could change our understanding of how the universe works. A new particle could hint at extra dimensions and help us understand the very beginning of the universe - but first the team has to find it. Horizon follows the scientists as they hunt for the elusive signals that would prove if there is a new particle or if it is just noise from their machine.

2016 • Physics

My Amazing Twin

The acerbically witty and severely facially disfigured broadcaster Adam Pearson presents a personal film about genetics. He and his twin brother Neil are genetically identical and both share the same genetic disease, Neurofibromatosis 1 (Nf1) - yet they are completely different. Adam's face is covered with growths, whereas Neil has none. Neil has short term memory loss, whereas Adam is razor sharp. How can the same genetic disease affect identical twins so differently? Adam is on the cusp of a successful film and television career, but the disease has left tumours on his face that are growing out of control and he could lose his sight. For years, everyone thought Adam's brother Neil had escaped symptoms, but today his life is governed by epilepsy and a mysterious memory loss that suddenly came on during his teens. Determined to save their future, Adam tries to find out why the disease affects the twins so differently.

2016 • Health

The Science of Laughter

Comedian Jimmy Carr takes over Horizon for this one-off special programme, produced as part of BBC2's sitcom season. Jimmy turns venerable documentary strand Horizon into a chat show, with eminent laughter scientists as guests and a studio audience to use as guinea pigs. Jimmy and his guests try to get to the bottom of what laughter is, why we enjoy it so much and what, if anything, it has to do with comedy. Between them, and with the help of contributions from other scientists on film, Jimmy and guests discover that laughter is much older than our species, and may well have contributed to making us human. With professors Sophie Scott, Robin Dunbar and Peter McGraw.

2016 • Science

How to Find Love Online

Dr Xand Van Tulleken is single and looking for love. Mathematician Dr Hannah Fry wants to use him as her guinea pig to test whether the algorithms that dating sites use to match people actually work. While Hannah builds a dating site, Xand meets the scientists investigating online dating - and learns what pictures to use and what to write in his profile. He tries out a 'bot' that has automated a swiping app and has an MRI scan to find out whether his brain is equipped for love. 50 members of the public take part in some mini experiments at a date night - and Xand goes on various dates to test whether the algorithm is better than him choosing randomly.

2016 • Lifehack

The Lost Tribes of Humanity

Alice Roberts explores the latest discoveries in the study of human origins, revealing the transformation that has been brought about in this field by genetics. Traditional paleo-anthropology, based on fossils, is being transformed by advanced genome sequencing techniques. We now know that there were at least four other distinct species of human on the planet at the same time as us - some of them identified from astonishingly well-preserved DNA extracted from 50,000-year-old bones, others hinted at by archaic sections of DNA hidden in our modern genome. What's more, we now know that our ancestors met and interacted with these other humans, in ways that still have ramifications today. Alice uses these revelations to update our picture of the human family tree.

2016 • People

The Wildest Weather in the Universe

Scientists have started looking to the heavens and wondering what the weather might be like on other planets. Today, we are witnessing the birth of extra-terrestrial meteorology. They began with our solar system, sending spacecraft to explore its furthest reaches, and now the latest telescopes are enabling astronomers to study planets further afield. Our exploration of the universe is revealing alien worlds with gigantic storm systems that encircle entire planets, supersonic winds and extreme temperatures. On some planets, temperatures are so hot that the clouds and rain are believed to be made of liquid lava droplets, and on other planets it is thought to rain precious stones. We thought we had extreme weather on Earth, but it turns out that it is nothing compared to what's out there.

2016 • Astronomy

ADHD and Me: With Rory Bremner

Comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner is on a personal mission to uncover the science of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), a condition which he has suspected he has. In this film, Rory learns about the science of ADHD, goes for a diagnosis and tries the drug methylphenidate (also known as Ritalin) for the first time - just before walking on stage. Around three per cent of the adult population suffer from ADHD (and five per cent of children), yet many people remain sceptical of its existence, blaming it on naughty children or bad parenting.

2017 • Brain

Strange Signals from Outer Space

For decades some have suspected that there might be others out there, intelligent beings capable of communicating with us, even visiting our world. It might sound like science fiction, but today scientists from across the globe are scouring the universe for signals from extraterrestrials. Scientists have been searching the cosmos for strange signals like the Lorimer Burst for more than 50 years. The film ends with scientists' latest search for extraterrestial intelligence. Horizon obtained exclusive access to film researchers at the Green Bank Telescope searching for radio signals from Tabby's Star, a star so mysterious that some scientists believe it might be surrounded by a Dyson Sphere, a vast energy collector built by advanced aliens.

2017 • Astronomy

Immortal: A Horizon Guide to Ageing

Is there any way to slow or even prevent the ravages of time? Veteran presenter Johnny Ball looks back over the 45 years that Horizon, and he, have been on air to find out what science has learned about how and why we grow old. Charting developments from macabre early claims of rejuvenation to the latest cutting-edge breakthroughs, Johnny discovers the sense of a personal mission that drives many scientists and asks whether we are really any closer to achieving the dream of immortality.

2014 • Health

What Makes a Psychopath

Psychopaths have long captured the public imagination. Painted as charismatic, violent predators lacking in all empathy, they provide intrigue and horror in equal measure. But what precisely is a psychopath? What is it that drives them to cause harm, even kill? And can they ever be cured? Presented by psychologist professor Uta Frith, this is an in-depth exploration of the psychopathic mind including one of the most notorious of all, Moors murderer Ian Brady. Through an ongoing correspondence between the Horizon team and Brady, the film features some of the very last letters he wrote. The film also features a series of candid interviews with prison inmates who not only describe their crimes but why they think they committed them. Horizon explores not only how each individual's crimes were shaped by their own life experiences, but also gives an insight into how these people think and behave. Working with the world's experts in the field, the film sheds light on the biological, psychological and environmental influences that shape a psychopath. And it looks to the future, with groundbreaking research that suggests a lifetime of incarceration is not the only option to manage violent and dangerous psychopaths.

2017 • Health

Mars: A Travellers Guide

The dream of sending humans to Mars is closer than ever before. In fact, many scientists think that the first person to set foot on the Red Planet is alive today. But where should the first explorers visit when they get there? Horizon has gathered the world's leading experts on Mars and asked them where would they go if they got the chance - and what would they need to survive? Using incredible real images and data, Horizon brings these Martian landmarks to life - from vast plains to towering volcanoes, from deep valleys to hidden underground caverns. This film also shows where to land, where to live and even where to hunt for traces of extraterrestrial life.

2017 • Astronomy

Goodbye Cassini: Hello Saturn

A billion miles from home, running low on fuel, and almost out of time. After 13 years traversing the Saturn system, the spacecraft Cassini is plunging to a fiery death, becoming part of the very planet it has been exploring. As it embarks on its final assignment - a one-way trip into the heart of Saturn - Horizon celebrates the incredible achievements and discoveries of a mission that has changed the way we see the solar system. Strange new worlds with gigantic ice geysers, hidden underground oceans that could harbour life and a brand new moon coalescing in Saturn's magnificent rings. As the world says goodbye to the great explorer Cassini, Horizon will be there for with a ringside seat for its final moments.

2017 • Astronomy

Are We Still Evolving?

Dr Alice Roberts asks one of the great questions about our species: are we still evolving? There's no doubt that we're a product of millions of years of evolution. But thanks to modern technology and medicine, did we escape Darwin's law of the survival of the fittest? Alice follows a trail of clues from ancient human bones to studies of remarkable people living in the most inhospitable parts of the planet and the frontiers of genetic research, to discover if we are still evolving - and where we might be heading.

2011 • Science

Hair Care Secrets

The Horizon team have gathered together a team of scientists and doctors to investigate the incredible, natural material that is growing out of our heads - our hair. With access to the research laboratories of some of the world's leading hair care companies, including L'Oreal and ghd, the team explore the latest cutting-edge research and technology designed to push the boundaries of hair and hair care. Each one of us has a unique head of hair - an average of 150,000 individual hair strands growing approximately one centimetre every month. Over your lifetime, that is over 800 miles. The time and effort we put into styling, sculpting and maintaining this precious material has created a global hair care market worth a staggering 60 billion pounds. With such high stakes, it is inevitable that when developing hair-care products, science and business operate hand in hand. The team reveal how this industry science compares to the rigorous academic standards that they are used to. These investigations also reveal why we care so much about our hair, and whether or not it is worth splashing out on expensive shampoos. They uncover the magic ingredients found in conditioners and lay bare the secrets of the shiny, glossy hair seen in the adverts.

2017 • Lifehack

The Final Frontier: A Horizon Guide to the Universe

Dallas Campbell looks back through almost 50 years of the Horizon archives to chart the scientific breakthroughs that have transformed our understanding of the universe. From Einstein's concept of spacetime to alien planets and extra dimensions, science has revealed a cosmos that is more bizarre and more spectacular than could have ever been imagined. But with every breakthrough, even more intriguing mysteries that lie beyond are found. This great journey of discovery is only just beginning.

2012 • Astronomy

The Pleasure of finding Things out

Richard Feynman was one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists and original thinkers of the 20th century. He rebuilt the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and it was for this work that he won the Nobel Prize in 1965. In 1981, he gave Horizon a candid interview, talking about many things close to his heart.

1981 • Physics

My Amazing Brain: Richard's War

Horizon follows the story of Richard Gray and his remarkable recovery from a life-changing catastrophic stroke. The film shows the rarely seen journey back to recovery. Recorded by his documentary film-maker wife Fiona over four years, this film shows the hard work of recovery. Initially bed bound and unable to do anything, including speak, the initial outlook was bleak, yet occasionally small glimmers of hope emerged. Armed always with her camera, Fiona captures the moment Richard moves his fingers for the first time, and then over months she documents his struggle to relearn how to walk again. The story also features poignant footage delivered in a series of flashbacks, in which we see and hear Richard at his professional best. He was a peacekeeper with the United Nations, immersed in the brutal war in Sarajevo, Bosnia. We also hear from the surgeons and clinicians who were integral to Richard's remarkable recovery, from describing life-saving, high-risk reconstructive surgery to intensive rehabilitation programmes that push the former soldier to his limits.

2018 • Brain

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The End of the Solar System

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