Scientists and modern explorers are determined to send humans to Mars; as NASA builds its first spacecraft to carry astronauts to Mars and tech visionaries devise extraterrestrial colonies, future on Mars might be a reality.
The multiverse hypothesis, suggesting that our universe is but one of perhaps infinitely many, speaks to the very nature of reality. Join physicist Brian Greene, cosmologists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde, and philosopher Nick Bostrom as they discuss and debate this controversial implication of forefront research and explore its potential for redefining the cosmic order. Moderated by Robert Krulwich and featuring an original musical interlude, inspired by parallel worlds, by DJ Spooky.
Saturn's secrets are out. The ferocious weather, the evolving ring system and the discovery of active geology on Saturn's moons has rewritten the textbooks. Scientists are looking for life on Saturn's moons and they may have found it on Titan.
Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).
Planet Earth has been home to humankind for over 200,000 years, but with a population of 7.3 billion and counting and limited resources, this planet might not support us forever. Professor Stephen Hawking thinks the human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive. With climate change, pollution, deforestation, pandemics and population growth, our own planet is becoming increasingly precarious.
2017 • Astronomy
With repeated triumphs and new challenges comes increasing risk, until loss breaks the pattern. The white-knuckle suspense thriller of Apollo 13's famous near-disaster is only a triumphant prelude to darker moments ahead. The launch of the space shuttle program promises routine trips to Earth orbit for many new astronauts. But just when that promise seems fulfilled, routine shuttle launches begin to bore the public. NASA responds by training a school-teacher to fly, in order to teach children lessons from space. Christa McAuliffe's life is tragically cut short as she and the rest of the crew perish aboard the shuttle Challenger. All missions are halted. Eventually the shuttle returns to orbit, for fifteen years of successful missions until disaster strikes again with the shocking loss of Columbia. It would be the beginning of the end for the shuttle.