We feel it every moment of our lives but for physicists, gravity is the longest running unsolved mystery of the universe. Why do all objects that have mass pull on one another? Cutting-edge theories are proposing unexpected answers.
We float along the river of time. But does that river have a source? Where did time come from? Some believe time and space are one thing, and the Big Bang started the cosmic clock. Others believe the universe existed for almost half a million "years" before light could move and time began. Still others say time is older than our universe. But what if time itself is an illusion? Incredible new experiments may hold the answer. One groundbreaking experiment gives us the power to punch holes in time…and another may create a machine that operates outside time’s boundaries!
We are all at the mercy of the Sun. Its glowing disc sustains nearly all life on Earth. But the Sun also holds a dark secret: someday, our aging, expanding star will bathe the Earth in a fiery holocaust. Everything we know will turn to hot, bubbling, plasma.
It's called the speed limit of the universe. Einstein blew all of our minds when he worked out the Theory of Relativity, and showed that space and time were malleable substances. He also theorized that we as humans can never travel faster than the speed of light, which leaves the stars and other galaxies almost impossibly out of our reach. But the dreams of Star Wars and Star Trek are not dead. In fact, there could be ways to travel faster than the speed of light - and some of them are already being tested in labs around the world.
Quantum theory, the best explanation of how atoms and anything smaller behave, is so weird even scientists who have mastered it find it baffling. But bit by bit scientists are finding maybe it's not so weird as comparable behavior is discovered in our every day world. It's just that no one noticed before.
Our minds store our entire lives, our memories and our deepest desires. Tell no one, and our thoughts remain our own. But our brains are biological computers. Computer hackers can tamper with our email. Could brain hackers someday be able to rewrite our thoughts?
Our universe seems real. But what if it’s a videogame? Scientists in a variety of fields are taking seriously the possibility that we live in a virtual reality. Maybe the Big Bang was just the moment someone flipped the switch and turned on our universe. Maybe what looks random has already been programmed to happen. If some advanced civilization did design and program our universe, would we ever know? Scientists are looking for glitches in the laws of the universe that may uncover its hidden code.
There is something very strange happens in space – something that should not be possible. It’s as if large parts of the world are being ravaged by a huge and invisible celestial vacuum. Sasha Kaslinsky, the scientist who discovered the phenomenon, is understandably nervous: “We left very upset and nervous,” he says, “because this is not something we planned to find.”
Space is where things happen. Time is when things happen. And sometimes, in order to really look at the universe, you need to take those two concepts and mash them together. In this first lesson of a three-part series on space-time, hilarious hosts Andrew Pontzen and Tom Whyntie go through the basics of space and time individually, and use a flip book to illustrate how we can begin to look at them together.
Adam Savage walks through two spectacular examples of profound scientific discoveries that came from simple, creative methods anyone could have followed -- Eratosthenes' calculation of the Earth's circumference around 200 BC and Hippolyte Fizeau's measurement of the speed of light in 1849.
2012 • Physics
On November 25th, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: general relativity. The theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back to the origin of time itself. Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Discover the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory—and Einstein’s brilliance—as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory.”