What would happen if the sun took out our electrical power grid for an entire year? It may sound like the plot of a sci-fi movie, but this doomsday scenario could actually happen. Despite its calm appearance, the sun is a violent place, constantly releasing huge masses of energy known as coronal mass ejections. These storms have hit the earth before. The last big one struck more than 150 years ago in the Victorian era taking out worldwide telegraph service. The impact of a similar storm would be far more destructive in our modern age of hyper-connected telecommunication and total reliance on electricity and electronics. Fortunately scientists and engineers are building the world's largest solar telescope and launching the first ever spacecraft to fly to the sun to help us predict these potentially devastating events - and prepare for them.
Brian Cox explores the ingredients needed for an intelligent civilisation to evolve in the universe - the need for a benign star, for a habitable planet, for life to spontaneously arise on such a planet and the time required for intelligent life to evolve and build a civilisation. Brian weighs the evidence and arrives at his own provocative answer to the puzzle of our apparent solitude.
As we continue to discover the diversity of life on Earth, we are forced to stop and marvel at how tenacious and inventive life is. So, as we forge onward in our robotic explorations of other worlds, we shouldn't be too surprised to find other places where conditions seem to be right for life.
Our first steps into space were leaps into the unknown. Outer space is still the most hostile environment ever encountered, but someday, we may be forced to leave earth in order to save our species. The question now is whether human ingenuity can overcome the human body’s limitations.
There are Black Holes, and then there are Monster Black Holes -- containing several million to ten billion times the mass of our Sun! They've been discovered in the center of many galaxies. But they don't just absorb everything around them...in fact, they may be key to forming new galaxies.