Black holes! From Stephen Hawking to Interstellar, black holes are mammoths in the world of science AND sci-fi. But what exactly IS a black hole? Do events happen inside black holes? Are black holes really a hole? Are black holes really black?! Join Gabe on this week’s episode of PBS Space Time as he debunks popular black hole misconceptions, and rethinks what the term, ‘black hole’, even means. Thought you knew what a black hole was? Think again!
2015 • 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.
In August 1977, the Big Ear Radio-telescope in Ohio received a strange signal from the Sagittarius constellation while searching for intelligent extra-terrestrial life. It had a duration of 72 seconds and an intensity 30 times higher than usual. Named the WAW signal (as an engineer wrote ‘WOW’ on the data as it came in!), it is still being considered as one of the best examples of having being sent by intelligent extraterrestrial life. But, nothing has revolutionised the search of extra-terrestrial intelligent life as much as the recent discovery by the Kepler Satellite, of thousands of Earth-like planets where life could be possible. Join the debate with this stunning one-hour documentary from 2015, as we ask Is Anybody Out There?
2015 • Astronomy
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).
Astronomers are finally unlocking the mysteries to the alien underworlds of Uranus and Neptune; experts reveal how an ancient mega-collision and a missing twin planet could uncover the secrets of these strange and frozen worlds.
The attempt to send and land astronauts on Mars risks billions of dollars and the lives of those brave enough to attempt it. Is the possible benefit really worth the risk? And is it really achievable? Guiding us through this ethical and scientific minefield is Dr Kevin Fong. Kevin's diverse background in astrophysics, aeronautics and medicine makes him uniquely placed to understand the technical and human challenges of this perilous journey. With the help of the BBC's rich archive and a cast of supporting experts, Kevin leads us through the journey to Mars stage by stage. For Kevin, not only is this the toughest journey we will ever attempt, it is one that he feels we ultimately must make if we are to survive as a species.
2017 • Astronomy