To coincide with the switch-on of the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator complex, Professor Jim Al Khalili from the University of Surrey delves into over 50 years of the BBC science archive to tell the story behind the emergence of one of the greatest theories of modern science, the Big Bang. The remarkable idea that our universe simply began from nothing has not always been accepted with the conviction it is today and, from fiercely disputed leftfield beginnings, took the best part of the 20th century to emerge as the triumphant explanation of how the universe began. Using curious horn-shaped antennas, U-2 spy planes, satellites and particle accelerators, scientists have slowly pieced together the cosmological jigsaw, and this documentary charts the overwhelming evidence for a universe created by a Big Bang. Professor Al-Khalili comments: "This one-off documentary was made by the BBC Horizon team and was great fun to be involved with. The archive footage is fantastic too."
Kevin explores life in orbit on board the Station. As Tim settles in to his new home he sends special reports about what it takes to live and work in space. Four hundred kilometres above the Earth, hurtling at a speed of 17,500mph, astronauts' bones and muscles waste away, the oxygen they breathe is artificially made, and they face constant threats from micrometeorites, radiation and extreme temperatures. If a medical emergency strikes, Tim is a very long way from home. In its 15-year lifetime, the International Space Station has never had a major accident. With a British astronaut in orbit, gravity-defying experiments and guest astronauts in the lecture theatre, Dr Fong shows us how to survive life in orbit.
Today Phil explains that YES, there are other planets out there and astonomers have a lot of methods for detecting them. Nearly 2000 have been found so far. The most successful method is using transits, where a planet physically passes in front of its parent star, producing a measurable dip in the star’s light. Another is to measuring the Doppler shift in a star’s light due to reflexive motion as the planet orbits. Exoplanets appear to orbit nearly every kind of star, and we’ve even found planets that are the same size as Earth. We think there may be many billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy.
On a high plateau in a remote desert in northern Chile lies the largest observatory on Earth, ALMA, or Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array. The name refers to a network of 66 massive radio telescopes, working in unison to observe the birth and death of stars and planets, and answer centuries-old questions about the origins of our universe. Witness the history of ALMA, the remarkable product of a 20-year global effort, and see how it is already changing our basic understanding of the cosmos, and astronomy itself.
2013 • Astronomy
In the 1950s and early '60s, a small band of high-altitude pioneers exposed themselves to the extreme forces of the space age long before NASA's acclaimed Mercury 7 would make headlines. Though largely forgotten today, balloonists were the first to venture into the frozen near-vacuum on the edge of our world, exploring the very limits of human physiology and human ingenuity in this lethal realm.
2016 • Astronomy