The sky and outer space have fascinated man for centuries and the History Channel’s series The Universe is the story of man’s study of the cosmos from his earliest attempts to map and understand the heavens through modern day scientific studies, advances, and theories.
A mix of historical footage, modern space imaging, and conceptual computer graphics presented in high-definition, the visual component of this production is absolutely breathtaking. Each of the 14 44-minute episodes begins with a general introduction of subjects ranging from the sun to individual planets, alien galaxies, the search for extra-terrestrial life, and scientific theories like the Big Bang.
Each topic is then broken down into a series of segments that detail specific ideas, theories, or components integral to the understanding of the main topic as well as historical material, current studies and theories, and projections of potential future events and scientific advances.
1. Secrets of the Sun. How the sun was formed and how it could potentially die; its physical composition; how it makes energy; and the nature of solar eclipses, solar flares and sunspot activity.
2. Mars: The Red Planet. The planet most similar to Earth in our solar system; an examination of Olympus Mons the largest volcano in the solar system; how NASA probes search for evidence of past life on the red planet, and what that life might have looked like.
3. End of the Earth. The end of the world scenarios involving killer asteroid or comet impact events, solar flare and gamma-ray bursts, and the plans that scientists have to potentially save the Earth from an interstellar disaster.
4. Jupiter: The Giant Planet. The solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter; its formation and composition and its mini-solar system of over 60 moons – some of which may have the potential to support extraterrestrial life.
5. The Moon. The formation of the Moon; how it played a role in the evolution of life on Earth; and the future plans of NASA to establish a permanent base on the surface.
6. Spaceship Earth. The planet Earth; how it was born out of a chaotic shooting gallery during the formation of the solar system; how life could have began here; and what could ultimately cause its destruction.
7. Mercury and Venus: The Inner Planets. The two most hostile planets in the solar system – Mercury and Venus; one gouged with craters, the other a greenhouse cauldron of toxic gases and acid rain; both scorched by their close proximity to the sun. Scientists theorize about what sort of life could evolve on these alien worlds.
8. Saturn: Lord of the Rings. The planet Saturn and its fascinating rings; how they may have been created; how the latest probes have answered questions and revealed new mysteries about the planet, and how Saturn’s moon Titan may hold more resources of petroleum than Earth will ever need.
9. Alien Galaxies. The space through the amazing images of the Hubble Space Telescope; and a look at the formation of our galaxy and how it is just one of hundreds of billions in the universe.
10. Life and Death of a Star. How gravity causes hydrogen gas to coalesce under friction and pressure to ignite in a flash of nuclear fusion, the energy and glow lasting billions of years, and then the ultimate demise in the largest and most colorful explosions in the cosmos.
11. The Outer Planets. the solar system’s most distant worlds – Uranus, a gas giant with the most extreme axial tilt of any known planet and its wildly orbiting moon Triton; its near-twin Neptune and its moons; and finally, distant Pluto which orbits the sun every 248 years.
12. Most Dangerous Places. The most dangerous objects known in space – all consuming black holes, deadly gamma-ray bursts, powerful magnetars, and galactic collisions.
13. Search for E.T. Possible extraterrestrial life in the universe; the mission of organizations like SETI to find it, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life existing right in our own solar system on the moons of Europa and Titan.
14. Beyond the Big Bang. Back in time billions and billions of years to the origin of the Big Bang. Leading physicists and historians theorize what happened before the bang occurred, how the physical nature of the universe unfolded as energy became matter forming stars and galaxies, and how the universe continues to expand outward at an ever-accelerating rate.