Wonders of the Universe: Falling

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Falling

In the third episode, Professor Brian Cox takes on the story of the force that sculpts the entire universe – gravity.

Gravity seems so familiar, and yet it is one of the strangest and most surprising forces in the universe. Starting with a zero gravity flight, Brian experiences the feeling of total weightlessness, and considers how much of an effect gravity has had on the world around us.

But gravity also acts over much greater distances. It is the great orchestrator of the cosmos. It dictates our orbit around the sun, our relationship with the other planets in our solar system, and even the way in which our solar system orbits our galaxy.

Yet the paradox of gravity is that it is actually a relatively weak force. Brian takes a face distorting trip in a centrifuge to explain how it is that gravity achieves its great power, before looking at the role it plays in one of the most extraordinary phenomena in the universe – a neutron star. Although it is just a few kilometres across, it is so dense that its gravity is 100, 000 million times as strong as on Earth.

Over the centuries our quest to understand gravity has allowed us to understand some of the true wonders of the universe, and Brian reveals that it is scientists’ continuing search for answers that inspires his own sense of wonder.

 

Wonders of the Universe: Falling, 7.9 out of 10 based on 14 ratings

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  • Johnny

    Although I must admire some of the graphics and detailed explanations offered I can’t allow the dogma to go unchallenged here…

    “In the third episode, Professor Brian Cox takes on the story of the force that sculpts the entire universe – gravity.”

    Gravity being the ‘force that sculpts the entire universe’ is a matter of increasing debate in the scientific community.

    The reason for that debate is that the universe just isn’t the way it should be if gravity was the dominant force at work.

    The entire universe was “tweaked” to incorporate an invisible, undetected and completely non-evidenced “dark matter” that accounts for up to 96% of the universe because the theory of gravity can’t explain the structure of the universe otherwise.

    The structure of the universe is discovered not to adhere to the man-made theory of ‘gravitational domination’, do you -

    A) Assume the theory is incorrect and try to figure out a better theory.

    B) Assume the theory must still be right and the universe is just hiding a previously(and still) unknown ‘stuff’ that behaves just like real stuff by having mass but without any of the physical characteristics of real stuff(like being detectable).

    Seriously, if they discovered 5% or 10% of the needed matter was ‘missing’ I could understand some tweaks to the theories and the invention of some phantom cause like ‘dark matter’.

    But what drug do you have to be on to discover that up to 96% of the needed matter based on gravity theory is ‘missing’ and decide that the logical conclusion is that the theory of gravity must still be correct and 96% of the universe must be unicorns?

    I don’t mind living in a universe that has a few ‘phantoms’ in it, but the idea of living in a universe that is a phantom itself is kind of unsettling…

    Although I have no time to worry about that really as the thousands of black holes orbiting the super-massive black hole at the center of our galaxy are far more concerning… that many different sources and sizes of ‘infinite gravitational force’ point-mass singularities so close to each other in a single finite universe must be very, very bad.

    Eventually they will devour us all and turn us into energy and spit us out as long collimated ‘jets’ of energy.

    But whatever you do don’t call that energy ‘electricity’ or you’ll be lynched.

    You really do need to be ‘educated’ on this stuff in order to have any real understanding of how it works, because without that ‘education’ commonsense alone would lead to many of those theories being destroyed by casual observations.

    And yes I know I am serving an agenda here myself going after the ‘dogma’, but honestly when I get attacked and called petty names for objecting to the nuclear fusion Sun theory by quoting the words of Arthur Eddington, the author/creator of the theory in question, in stating that a “casual observer” could cite numerous “fatal objections” to the theory then something isn’t right.

    All of those ‘fatal objections’ still exist and a few more have been added by modern technology since then, but I’m a quack for even mentioning the fact that Eddington mentioned them?

    As Eddington stated it was far from perfect but was the best he could come up with based on the state of what was already known at that time – only internal nuclear fusion could sustain a star so long.

    We now know the Sun is a plasma – if not a ball of plasma at least it’s plasma on the ‘outside’, there is an interesting case made for a solid sun here – http://www.thesurfaceofthesun.com/running.htm – which has more properties than a normal non-ionized gas, including significant electrical properties.

    A powerful stream of electrically charged particles(protons and ions mainly) is emitted by the sun called the ‘Solar Wind’, and magnetic fields are “carried along” by the “Solar Wind”.

    There is enough energy in the Solar Wind and Earth’s plasma-sphere to produce “space tornado’s” with 1,000,000+ MPH vortex speeds and an ELECTRIC CURRENT flow exceeding 100,000 amperes.

    http://www.universetoday.com/29811/new-finding-shows-super-huge-space-tornados-power-the-auroras/

    Back to the sun itself although the ‘plasma spicule’ solar corona heating mechanism proposed in this article has since suffered some setbacks it contains a fair amount of open discussion on some of the ‘objections’ to current solar theory -

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/news/news20110106-spicules.html

    Note how they define plasma – “the electromagnetic gas that surrounds the sun”

    To bring this discussion full circle they don’t call it an ‘electromagnetic gas’ because it’s dominated by the force of gravity…

    “We stand on the verge of a vast cosmical discovery such as nothing hitherto imagined can compare with.”

    ~ Sir John Herschel to Micheal Faraday in 1850, after discovering a link between Sun spots and geomagnetic storms

    Today

    150+ years later we still stand on the verge of that ‘vast cosmical discovery’ of the electrically interconnected nature of the universe, busy being distracted by invisible ‘dark matter’, ‘dark energy’ and ‘black holes’ in a universe supposedly dominated by gravity while defying it in no small way(well 4% of the universe supports gravity).

    The rest is there in spirit though I guess.

    I really would like to know the difference between proposing the existence of an invisible matter or energy based solely on the fact you need it to validate prior held beliefs and proposing the existence of God to validate your spiritual beliefs.

    The people that really drive me bonkers are the one’s that claim ‘dark matter’ theory validates gravity theory.

    How does gravity theory being 96% wrong actually prove that it is right because you created a magical fairytale to explain away that 96% massive discrepancy?

    How the hell does this stuff get supported and funded so largely?

    I may as well claim that there is no evidence of God and therefore that is evidence that there has to be a God, because who else could exist without leaving any evidence?

    Dark matter, dark energy and black holes are all ‘inferred’ based on secondary observations or measurements or computer simulations and have never been directly evidenced.

    The idea of electromagnetism and plasma being present in astrophysical settings are validated theories that are supported by direct observations.

    Anyways I guess I could conclude that this documentary was at least good for getting the ‘juices flowing’, lol.

    I have no problem with the existing theory of gravity per say even if I don’t agree with, but people that portray the theoretical aspects of gravity theory as ‘proven facts’ get on my nerves.

    Gravity exists, that is a proven fact. That gravity ‘dominates the universe’ is an assumption, one based on knowledge that is now outdated.

    Mr. Cox’s credentials and experience are impressive but perpetuating such dogmatic views impedes scientific progress and for that I can’t say I’m a fan of his at all. (he’s probably happy about that, lol)

    I won’t get into the other videos in the series though obviously they contain as much or more issues I would love to point out, but I’ll wait for others to start discussions on them.

    Mind you other people’s discussions may not be as controversial as mine, or as long… lol.

    • Johnny

      As an added note from THEMIS on electric double layers observed in Earth’s ‘plasma sheet’ -

      “This widespread observation of double layers not only suggests that parallel electric fields are universal in collisionless plasmas, but that many active plasma regions, including astrophysical plasmas, may be subject to strongly-nonlinear and non-ideal behavior.”

      http://www.igpp.ucla.edu/public/THEMIS/SCI/Pubs/Nuggets/2009_nuggets/ergun/ergun_double_layers.html

      And the actual THEMIS page for the ‘space tornado’ article above which is more detailed than the UniverseToday article -

      http://www.igpp.ucla.edu/public/THEMIS/SCI/Pubs/Nuggets/2009_nuggets/keiling/keiling_may_09.html

      Unfortunately the THEMIS official line seems to be that all these electrical events are caused by “magnetic reconnection events” in Earth’s magnetotail which allows the Solar Wind to get in and provide the energy to power the substorms.

      I really don’t get it, the whole theory of magnetic reconnection was born out figuring out a way to explain magnetic fields in space without having a constant power supply, but we now know that highly charged electrical particles are constantly ‘streaming’ away from the Sun(and presumably all stars) and could in fact provide the energy required to sustain such fields.

      But now we have both the Solar Wind and magnetic reconnection co-existing and working together to explain things?

      Next they will figure out how to achieve topographical line reconnection to explain how the Earth’s topography changes over time, lol.

    • Johnny

      A new update – they’re still ‘reconnecting’ and dealing with isolated ‘magnetic bubbles’ rather than looking at the big picture but eventually if they keeping finding these electrical links the big picture will become too obvious to ignore:

      Cassini Sees Saturn Electric Link With Enceladus -

      http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassini/cassini20110420.html

    • Kfjeh

      What are your credentials? Oh yeah you’re an armchair google scientist. 

  • Brevan

    8/10
    - Mentions the usual “highlights” of gravitational phenomena, such as black holes, Mercury’s orbit, “The Vomit Comet” plane (yet no mention of parabolic flight paths).
    - A nice presentation of simulating higher gravity using acceleration.
    - Does not mention Universe expansion at all, as alluded to by poster Johnny, although at the end of the documentary it is mentioned that modern theories of gravity are known to be incomplete. Perhaps one of the reasons for this episode being about “Falling” is that they did not want to discuss gravity in detail, as that would almost require discussion of the debates and oddities in this theory.
    - Does not visualize the bending of space-time. Perhaps the producers felt that the usual visualizations (funnel shapes with marbles rolling around) was too cliche. Would have been nice to have something.
    - Presentation seemed good to me, perhaps I’m just getting used to Brian Cox’s style.
    - Nice footage of exotic locations such as mountains, ruins of desert civilizations, cosmos animations, etc.

  • Brevan

    8/10
    - Mentions the usual “highlights” of gravitational phenomena, such as black holes, Mercury’s orbit, “The Vomit Comet” plane (yet no mention of parabolic flight paths).
    - A nice presentation of simulating higher gravity using acceleration.
    - Does not mention Universe expansion at all, as alluded to by poster Johnny, although at the end of the documentary it is mentioned that modern theories of gravity are known to be incomplete. Perhaps one of the reasons for this episode being about “Falling” is that they did not want to discuss gravity in detail, as that would almost require discussion of the debates and oddities in this theory.
    - Does not visualize the bending of space-time. Perhaps the producers felt that the usual visualizations (funnel shapes with marbles rolling around) was too cliche. Would have been nice to have something.
    - Presentation seemed good to me, perhaps I’m just getting used to Brian Cox’s style.
    - Nice footage of exotic locations such as mountains, ruins of desert civilizations, cosmos animations, etc.

    • Johnny

      Howdy again.

      “Does not mention Universe expansion at all, as alluded to by poster Johnny, although at the end of the documentary it is mentioned that modern theories of gravity are known to be incomplete. Perhaps one of the reasons for this episode being about “Falling” is that they did not want to discuss gravity in detail, as that would almost require discussion of the debates and oddities in this theory.”

      Exactly, it’s called a ‘mainstream perspective’ – education costs a lot of money these days and people might become disconcerted with the system if it didn’t teach actual ‘facts’. (would you pay for schooling – through taxes or tuition – to get a PHD or degree of any kind that says you ‘might’ know something?)

      So issues with the theories rarely get included in these types of PR programs, and when necessary very large sections of the theory are ignored completely to avoid giving the implication that there is room to doubt their consensus views on it.(the ‘still unknowns’ are another matter, they can acknowledge them for the most part)

      That is the whole reason the ‘consensus community’ and peer-review was invented, to create ‘accepted facts’ out of what are at best uncertainties which they could then teach as ‘facts’.

      Unfortunately the general public(and some actual scientists) mistakenly think they are dealing with ‘scientific truths’ that are 100% beyond question, which is only true in a very few cases.

      Universal expansion is the Big Bang Theory, it is under the currently accepted Big Bang model that gravity is alleged to be the dominant force so ignoring that aspect in a film dedicated to gravity is dishonest at best in my opinion.

      How gravity theory ties into the currently accepted Big Bang paradigm of an expanding universe is very important to any discussion of gravity theory.

      But I’ll avoid another big rant as I’ve already said enough to that extent here, lol.

  • Brevan

    8/10
    - Mentions the usual “highlights” of gravitational phenomena, such as black holes, Mercury’s orbit, “The Vomit Comet” plane (yet no mention of parabolic flight paths).
    - A nice presentation of simulating higher gravity using acceleration.
    - Does not mention Universe expansion at all, as alluded to by poster Johnny, although at the end of the documentary it is mentioned that modern theories of gravity are known to be incomplete. Perhaps one of the reasons for this episode being about “Falling” is that they did not want to discuss gravity in detail, as that would almost require discussion of the debates and oddities in this theory.
    - Does not visualize the bending of space-time. Perhaps the producers felt that the usual visualizations (funnel shapes with marbles rolling around) was too cliche. Would have been nice to have something.
    - Presentation seemed good to me, perhaps I’m just getting used to Brian Cox’s style.
    - Nice footage of exotic locations such as mountains, ruins of desert civilizations, cosmos animations, etc.