In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 captured the iconic 'Blue Marble': the first photograph ever taken by an astronaut of the entire Earth. This photo had a profound effect on our perception of ourselves. Since then, Nasa has taken millions more. In this epic, powerful and revelatory documentary, a new generation of astronauts, including Tim Peake, use those images of the Earth from space to reveal the astonishing transformation humanity has wrought in the 45 years since 'Blue Marble'. Together, the astronauts provide an armchair tour of the change they've witnessed from orbit, as humankind etches our presence on the planet. Using stunning time-lapse sequences, the programme reveals how we are reshaping our world, for better and for worse: from the sprawling megacities of China to vast desert farms in the Middle East and from the melting snowcap of Kilimanjaro to giant solar arrays in Nevada.
2017 • Astronomy
The shape, contents and future of the universe are all intricately related. We know that it's mostly flat; we know that it's made up of baryonic matter (like stars and planets), but mostly dark matter and dark energy; and we know that it's expanding constantly, so that all stars will eventually burn out into a cold nothingness. Renée Hlozek expands on the beauty of this dark ending.
The idea of intelligence is explored in the concepts of computers (using bits as their basic units of information), whales (in their songs and their disruptions by human activities), DNA, the human brain (the evolution of the brain stem, frontal lobes, neurons, cerebral hemispheres, and corpus callosum under the Triune Brain Model), and man-made structures for collective intelligence (cities, libraries, books, computers, and satellites). The episode ends with speculation on alien intelligence and the information conveyed on the Voyager Golden Record.
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.