Documentary marking the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight into space. It was hailed by the Soviet Union as a triumph for socialist science over capitalism, but the true story is much stranger. George Carey's film shows how the Soviet space programme was kick-started by a mystic who taught that science would make us immortal, and carried forward by a scientist who believed that we should evolve into super-humans who could leave our overcrowded planet to colonise the universe. Stranger still, Carey shows how those ideas have survived Communism and adapted themselves to the science of the modern world.
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On September 14th, 2015, a ripple in the fabric of space, created by the violent collision of two distant black holes over a billion years ago, washed across the Earth. As it did, two laser-based detectors, 50 years in the making – one in Louisiana and the other in Washington State – momentarily twitched, confirming a century-old prediction by Albert Einstein and marking the opening of a new era in astronomy. Join some of the very scientists responsible for this most anticipated discovery of our age and see how gravitational waves will be used to explore the universe like never before.
Scientists on the BICEP and Planck missions are attempting to solve a mystery about the earliest moments of our universe, by searching for patterns in the cosmic microwave background. If successful, the missions will help to answer the biggest question anyone can ask: how did our universe begin?
Could human settlements on Mars become reality as early as 100 years from now? Artificial micro organisms created with the latest techniques in synthetic biology could be used to produce resources such as iron, energy, and food directly on the planet itself. What would this new "Earth" look like?
Massive stars fuse heavier elements in their cores than lower mass stars. This leads to the creation of heavier elements up to iron. Iron robs critical energy from the core, causing it to collapse. The shock wave, together with a huge swarm of neutrinos, blast through the star’s outer layers, causing it to explode. The resulting supernova creates even more heavy elements, scattering them through space. Also, happily, we’re in no danger from a nearby supernova.
Carl Sagan opens the program with a description of the cosmos and a "Spaceship of the Imagination" (shaped like a dandelion seed). The ship journeys through the universe's hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Eratosthenes' successful calculation of the circumference of Earth leads to a description of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Finally, the "Ages of Science" are described, before pulling back to the full span of the Cosmic Calendar. Note: This revised version of the series adds an introduction by Ann Druyan, in which she discusses some of the changes that occurred in the years after its broadcast.
The sun is our life-giving source of light, heat, and energy, and new discoveries are unraveling its epic history. Join NOVA on a spectacular voyage to discover its place in a grand cycle of birth, death and renewal that makes this the age of stars.