"This film documents an event that has never taken place – man's first encounter with intelligent life from space". We've been fantasizing about an extraterrestrial visit for decades, but what would happen if it actually took place? How would we cope? Should we be afraid? These and many other questions are addressed in this philosophical film about a hypothetical initial contact with aliens. Scientists and space affairs specialists at the UN and NASA and in the British government cooperate in this cinematic simulation of the undoubtedly exciting meeting between extraterrestrial life and humanity. The interviewees speak directly to the unknown entities as if they've already arrived. From their own fields – politics, theology, sociology, biology or space science – they ask probing questions. What are you doing here? Do you have a sense of right and wrong? Do you carry bacteria that could make us sick? Are we hazardous to your immune system? Information specialists in the British government show how a first summit in this situation could go. How do you inform the public? Will countries work together? Is there a danger involved? Above all, the alien visit raises questions about the relation between our own history of exploration, colonization and warfare, and the expectations with which we approach the unknown. This is a journey beyond terrestrial perspective, revealing the fears, hopes, and rituals of a species forced not only to confront alien life forms, but also its own self image.
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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).
This first episode begins in 1957 and tracks the early years of the space race as the United States struggles to catch up with the Soviet Union. The episode reveals breathtaking failures and successes of the nascent American space program and demonstrates the stakes and costs of reaching the moon.
The sun. Smooth and round and peaceful. Except when it suddenly vomits radiation and plasma in random directions. These solar flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs can hit earth and have serious consequences for humanity.
Astronomers make an extraordinary discovery when they uncover a cosmic mega-structure that's one billion light-years long, and now investigators race to decode the hidden forces that shape the most massive and mysterious structure known in the Universe.