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2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Theory of Everything

Can the entire universe be explained with a single, unifying theory?  This is perhaps the most fundamental question in all of science, and it may also be the most controversial. Albert Einstein was among the first to envision a unified theory that could account for the behavior of all matter and energy in the cosmos, but a definitive solution has eluded physicists to this day. As the 21st century progresses, “string theory” remains the leading candidate to be the “theory of everything”—although some have come to question whether string theorists are on the right track. Still others doubt that a “theory of everything” exists at all—and consider the search for such a theory an outdated philosophy of our search for cosmic truths.

Join Director of the Hayden Planetarium Neil deGrasse Tyson as he hosts and moderates six of the world's leading voices in this great scientific debate.

A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time is based on cosmologist Stephen Hawking's 1988 bestseller of the same name. This anecdotal film concerns itself as much with Hawking's day-to-day life as it does with his unorthodox theories about the universe. Only the most close-minded viewer will be bothered by the ALS-suffering Hawking's physical appearance and his inability to move and speak without assistance (as narrator of the film, he utilizes a voice synthesizer, which he capriciously refers to as "my American accent"). Director Errol Morris inventively adopts a semi-dramatized approach to his interviews with Hawking's friends and relatives: they all appear in fabricated sets, and are lovingly photographed and lit as if they were starring in a film. Though of necessity a "talking heads" effort, A Brief History of Time is also cunningly and subtly cinematic.

A Brief History of Time - Audio Book

This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last twenty years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas about the cosmos

A Little Matter of Gender

One of the greatest experts in autism research in the world, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge argues that there are serious differences between the male and the female brain; in extreme cases, this male brain configuration leads to higher instances of autism and other malfunctions, thus producing more Savants.

As a little girl, Temple Grandin didn't speak at all. Unlike normal people, she feels at home in the language of animals, who - like her - think in pictures and not in words. Today Dr. Temple Grandin is the most important woman in the steak-and-burger-obsessed USA. She designed more than half of all cattle breeding farms of the biggest meat producing nation in the world because she knows the fears of cows, pigs and sheep by heart. But the thoughts and minds of average people will always remain a mystery to her.

Christopher Taylor won't be able to find the way to the pub in the village he has been living in for 20 years, but he is able to read newspapers in almost 25 different languages. Scientists think that an overdose of the male sex hormone testosterone in the time when the embryo evolves is responsible for extreme forms of the male brain that promotes both wondrous abilities and social deficiencies.

A War On Science

When Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution nearly 150 years ago, he shattered the dominant belief of his day – that humans were the product of divine creation. Through his observations of nature, Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection. This caused uproar. After all, if the story of creation could be doubted, so too could the existence of the creator. Ever since its proposal, this cornerstone of biology has sustained wave after wave of attack. Now some scientists fear it is facing the most formidable challenge yet: a controversial new theory called intelligent design.

In the late 1980s Phillip Johnson, a renowned lawyer and born-again Christian, began to develop a strategy to challenge Darwin. To Johnson, the evidence for natural selection was poor. He also believed that by explaining the world only through material processes was inherently atheistic. If there was a god, science would never be able to discover it.

Alien Contact

Many scientists believe we are on the verge of contacting alien life-forms. Join the search for extraterrestrials and hear from those convinced that life exists beyond our planet.

Alien Faces

Alien Galaxies

How the various structural types of galaxies form by merging with smaller galaxies is explained and simulated. The preliminary hints at the importance of dark matter in the process are mentioned.

Alien Planets

Have planet hunters finally found proof of other Earthlike worlds? Astronomers have now discovered over two hundred alien worlds, beyond our solar system, that were unknown just a decade ago. Discover planets that rage with fiery hurricanes and bizarre planets covered by water so dense that it forms a kind of hot ice. Among these weird worlds, Earth actually seems like the oddball with the right conditions for life.

Alien Planets. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 5:25, May 1, 2011, from


In "Are We Alone?" Hawking considers one of the most important mysteries facing humankind - the possibility of alien, intelligent life. He leads us on a journey rendered in eye-popping detail, from the moons of Jupiter to a galaxy maybe not so far, far away. We will meet possible aliens and wonder at their form, we will delve into the very principles of what it is to call something alive, and we will calculate the likelihood of 'contact' being made.

An Answer To Everything

Scientists generally agree on the big bang origin of the universe as we see it today. Fifteen billion years ago there was a momentous event whose nature is uncertain. But as we track the expansion backward, toward that moment of seeming creation, the details blur. Is our universe a minor event in an endless series of universes (or multiverses)? Our physics seem inadequate to explain the early times in a way that is consistent with the conditions existing today. That is a crucial requirement of science — no gaps should exist in the cause-and-effect chain linking two moments in a physical history. If our physics fails, understanding on the most fundamental level weakens; we have a crisis in science. New tentative and remarkable theories uniting relativity and quantum mechanics have been proposed — inflation theory and superstring theory. They are strange, not yet worked out, but seem to shed light on the earliest times. They hold the promise of providing a simple and elegant way to explain everything in universe and how it all works.

Are We Alone?

Sir Martin explores the possibility that life exists on planets beyond our own. He unveils an unsettling scientific debate that has startling consequences for us Earthlings. Do you believe in aliens? If not, a quick glance through these pages might change your mind!

Are We Ready For the Coming 'Age of Abundance?'

Of all the forces that will impact business in the future, several mega-trends stand out: disruptions in technology, demographics and emerging markets.

This is a Big Think panel made up of Michael Schrage, MIT Sloan School of Management research fellow, theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, Peter Diamandis, Founder and Chairman of the X-Prize Foundation, and Isabel Aguilera, former CEO of Google’s Spain & Portugal operations.

The sparks certainly did fly on this panel, which represented the views of both theorists and practitioners who have been grappling with the dual challenges and opportunities of a rapidly-changing global economy.

Are We Real?

There is a fundamental chasm in our understanding of ourselves, the universe, and everything. To solve this, Sir Martin takes us on a mind-boggling journey through multiple universes to post-biological life. On the way we learn of the disturbing possibility that we could be the product of someone else's experiment.


Alice Roberts travels to Siberia and visits an isolated community of indigenous people who still practice reindeer hunting. She uses them to ask how ancient Africans could have adapted to the hostile climate of northern Asia, and asks why Asian people look so different from Africans. She explores an alternative to the Out of Africa theory, the multiregional origin of modern humans theory that has gain support in some science community in China. According to this theory, the Chinese are not descended from anatomically modern African Homo sapiens, but evolved from a separate species of humans, called Homo erectus, rather than the Homo sapiens which produced the rest of humanity. Roberts visits the Zhoukoudian caves, in which Peking Man, the supposed Homo erectus ancestor of the Chinese, was discovered. She notes that some Chinese anthropologists and palaeontologists have shown modern Chinese physical characteristics that present in the fossil skulls, such as broad cheek bones, cranial skull shape and shovel shaped incisors which are virtually unique to Chinese people and absent in almost all other humans. Additionally she notes that the stone tools found in China seem more primitive than those elsewhere, showing that only the tools made by Homo erectus was present. However, she argues that the skull evidence is only subtle and interviews an American palaeontologist who believes, and presents, his hypothesis that the ancient Chinese humans used bamboo instead of stone, explaining the absence of sophisticated stone tools, despite no archaeological evidence in support of this hypothesis. Finally, she interviews Chinese geneticist Jin Li, who ran a study of more than 10,000 individuals scattered throughout China from 160 ethnic groups. The study, which hypothesised that the modern Chinese population evolved from Homo erectus in China, concluded that the Chinese people did in fact evolve and migrate from Africa like the rest of world's population.


In this fourth episode, Roberts discusses the surprising evidence of the Mungo Lake remains, which suggest, surprisingly, that humans reached Australia long before they reached Europe, even though Australia is further away from Africa. Roberts attempts to trace the journey. She visits a site in India that appears to indicate that humans were present there 70,000 years ago, before the Toba supervolcano deposited ash on the site. She then points to the Negrito people of Southeast Asia, who look different from other Asian peoples, and who may be descendants of the peoples who first left Africa. She describes the discovery of the tiny homo floresiensis on Flores and suggests that they may have been exterminated by modern humans. She describes the crossing of the Torres Strait by experimenting with a bamboo raft. She concludes by visiting a tribe in Northern Australia whose mythology describes their mother goddess arriving from across the sea.

Biggest Things in the Universe

Birth of The Earth

An imaginary "human" time traveler takes us on a journey back to the moment our solar system was born 4.5 billion years ago and examines the natural forces that created Earth and the conditions necessary for life to evolve.

Black Holes & Beyond

The universe is a strange and violent place, full of regions spewing out energy on an unimaginable scale and objects so massive not even light can escape from them. With the discovery of quasars (extremely luminous, compact objects in the hearts of ancient galaxies), the picture of the universe became more complex. Though the mechanism responsible for such enormous outputs of energy is not completely established, one answer was found in a part of Einstein’s theory of relativity — black holes, specifically supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies. These objects consume enormous amounts of matter. As the matter falls inward, it releases a large amount of observable energy. Einstein didn’t think black holes were possible, despite the fact that his own theory implied their existence. Robert Oppenheimer thought otherwise and set out to prove the presence of collapsed stars so massive not even light can escape them. Black holes seem to be a reality.

Blues for a Red Planet

Breakup: Survival of the Fittest

After the dinosaurs disappeared, the land was dominated by giant ground birds such as Diatrima. Continental drift, which had once caused the supercontinents to form, now broke up the huge landmasses. Mammals found an isolated niche for themselves in the Asian continent. Free from the attacks of giant birds, mammals could safely evolve there. In time, large, predatory mammals like Hyenodont emerged. When global warming melted the ice that had covered the land bridge between Asia and North America, a conflict erupted between Diatrima and Hyenodont. The winner was Hyenodont. It was the start of the golden age for mammals.

Primates still hid from their predators in treetops, where they developed a unique ability — stereoscopic vision. Now that they could measure the distance between things, they could easily jump from branch to branch. As a result of global warming, trees grew higher and thick forests covered entire continents. Primates could live without going down to the ground, where dangerous predators roamed.

Then, as Antarctica was torn apart from other continents and became a world of ice and snow, it started cooling the entire Earth. Forests disappeared, and most of the primates became extinct. Anthropoids developed a fovea, part of the eye responsible for sharp vision, which enabled them to survive by efficiently finding food. Stronger eyesight brought about a side effect — the ability to communicate through facial expressions. This led to the formation of a "society" among anthropoids.

Colonizing Space

Space colonization is no longer the fodder of science fiction, it is becoming a reality. Examine the efforts underway to establish a human colony on Mars, including how they plan to grow food, recycle wastewater and introduce greenhouse gases to revive the red planet and make it more habitable for humans. Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth to show what life would be like on Mars, and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

Colonizing Space. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:24, May 1, 2011, from


A constellation is a group of stars that are connected together to form a figure or picture. These star pictures help organize the night sky and provide a useful tool for astronomers even today. Explore some of the 88 official constellations and learn about some of the highlights of each--like the star that's due to go supernova in the constellation Orion. Discover the 13th zodiac sign that no one talks about, and find out why Polaris, the North Star, will one day have to surrender its title.

Constellations. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 6:12, May 1, 2011, from

Cosmic Alchemy

What is the universe and everything in it made of? Where does it all come from, and how do we know? Discoveries in the late 19th century revealed that the entire observable universe is made of the same elements as those on earth. With knowledge of the dual nature of matter and energy, scientists began to fit the pieces of the macroscopic and microscopic world together. This program covers the discovery of the nature of matter, its initial creation from the primordial conditions in the big bang, the building up of elements in stars, and the way this might affect the end of the universe.

Cosmic Apocalypse

The Universe as we know it is condemned to death. Space, matter and even time will one day cease to exist and there's nothing we can do about it. Harsh realities are revealed about the future of our Universe; it may collapse and burn or it might be gripped by a galactic ice age. Either of these scenarios might be a long way off. However, our Universe could suddenly be destroyed by a "random quantum fluctuation", a bubble of destruction that can obliterate the entire cosmos in the blink of an eye. No matter how it ends, life in our Universe is doomed.

Cosmic Apocalypse. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:35, May 1, 2011, from

Cosmic Collisions

Cosmic Holes

Today, we know black holes exist, and now scientists are trying to confirm that other holes lurk in hyperspace. Our infinite cosmos could contain a variety of "holes" such as black, white, "mini" and wormholes. White holes are the reverse of black holes; instead of matter being sucked into it, matter is ejected out. Wormholes are gateways in the fabric of space and time. They are included in Einstein's field equations as possibilities for their existence. Neither white holes nor wormholes have ever been found. Learn about new discoveries including, colliding binary black holes, intermediate black holes and manufacturing mini black holes.

Cosmic Holes. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 5:39, May 1, 2011, from

DMT - The Spirit Molecule

THE SPIRIT MOLECULE weaves an account of Dr. Rick Strassman's groundbreaking DMT research through a multifaceted approach to this intriguing hallucinogen found in the human brain and hundreds of plants, including the sacred Amazonian brew, ayahuasca. Utilizing interviews with a variety of experts to explain their thoughts and experiences with DMT, and ayahuasca, within their respective fields, and discussions with Strassman’s research volunteers, brings to life the awesome effects of this compound, and introduces us to far-reaching theories regarding its role in human consciousness.

Several themes explored include possible roles for endogenous DMT, its theoretical role in near-death and birth experiences, alien-abduction experiences, and spiritual states, both within Eastern concepts of enlightenment and Western ideas regarding prophecy, and the uncanny similarities in Biblical prophetic texts describing DMT-like experiences. Our expert contributors offer a comprehensive collection of information, opinions, and speculation about indigenous use of DMT, the history and future of psychedelics within the research community, and within the larger social matrix, and current DMT research. All this, to help us understand the nature of the DMT experience, and its role in human culture and evolution.

The subtle stimulating combination of science, spirituality, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy within the film’s approach sheds light on an array of ideas that could considerably alter the way humans understand the universe and their relationship to it.

Deep Space Disasters

Discovering the Elements

Just 92 elements made up the world, but the belief that were only four - earth, fire, air and water - persisted until the 19th Century. Professor Al-Khalili retraces the footsteps of the alchemists who first began to question the notion of the elements in their search for the secret of everlasting life.

He reveals the red herrings and rivalries which dogged scientific progress, and explores how new approaches to splitting matter brought us both remarkable elements and the new science of chemistry.


This is the extraordinary story of Albert Einstein and his decades-long battle to prove his Theory of General Relativity amid the violence of war and his tumultuous personal life.

In 1907, Einstein challenged two centuries of scientific belief and Sir Isaac Newton with a mind-boggling theory: Gravity is not pulling you down. Instead, massive bodies like the Sun and the Earth are bending space and time around you, pushing you down. He then had to prove his theory to unconvinced scientists. He figured that light from a distant star, as it passes right next to the sun and the sun’s gravitational field, will be bent. And the only way to see that would be to photograph a total solar eclipse.

Fiercely competitive astronomers raced each other to exotic locations to see if Einstein was right… or wrong. Hardships, weather, and war foiled their expeditions until 1922 when the photographic proof was clearly, and without a doubt, captured. It launched Albert Einstein as a global icon celebrated around the world for his genius–and his humanity.

Encyclopaedia Galactica


In the third episode, Roberts describes the various waves of anatomically modern humans that settled the continent of Europe. She crosses the Bosphorus and travels up the Danube River, following their likely route. She then describes the already resident population of Neanderthals, and visits Gibraltar, the last known site occupied by Neanderthals. She suggests that the principle difference between them and homo sapiens was the latter's ability to create art, and visits the cave paintings at Lascaux. She discusses the theories about why Europeans have white skin and describes the birth of agriculture and the societal changes that took place as a result, visiting a spectacular Neolithic temple in Turkey.


Professor Al-Khalili set out to discover what the universe might actually look like. The journey takes him from the distant past to the boundaries of the known universe. Along the way he charts the remarkable stories of the men and women who discovered the truth about the cosmos and investigates how our understanding of space has been shaped by both mathematics and astronomy.

Extinction and Rebirth: Strategy of Life

Life on Earth has experienced five great extinctions. The worst occurred about 250 million years ago during the Permian period. Our ancestors at that time were mammal-like reptiles. The super-plume theory attempts to explain this extinction with a gigantic vertical flow of magma in Earth's mantle. About 300 million years ago, under the ocean trenches around the supercontinent Pangea, the end parts of the ocean plates dropped toward the core, creating a reactionary upward magmatic current that caused violent volcanic eruptions. A huge basaltic plateau in Siberia is believed to be evidence of this super-plume.

According to the theory, carbon dioxide from volcanoes warmed Earth, causing methane-hydrate long frozen under the ocean floor to melt. Enormous amounts of methane were released into the air, accelerating global warming. The methane also depleted atmospheric oxygen, devastating plants.

The oxygen depletion continued for about 100 million years. Reptiles adapted best by developing a unique air-sac system. Mammals were also forced to devise a way to adapt, so they evolved to nurture babies in a womb in order to send them adequate oxygen. Mammals also devised a diaphragm for efficient respiration. This caused them to lose the lower half of their ribs, but as a result they could lie on the ground while twisting their waist. Now they were capable of breast-feeding.

Extrasensory Perception [BBC - Supernatural #1]

When science fiction becomes science fact...This groundbreaking series unravels the extrasensory feats and near-paranormal powers of animals.

It journeys to the outer limits of scientific knowledge to find a parallel animal universe where life exists in other realities and has powers that almost defy belief. Here sharks perceive human electric auras and dolphins use ultrasound to see a human fetus in the womb. There are monkey herbalists, frogs that have mastered the art of cryogenics and lizards that walk on water or cry blood.

Supernatural not only looks at animal hypnosis and the healing powers of fish and dolphins, it even explains weird phenomena such as animals foretelling earthquakes or forecasting the weather and fish that rain from the sky.

God, The Universe and Everything Else

In a studio setting, Stephen Hawking, Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan (who joins them via satellite) discuss the Big Bang theory, God, our existence as well as the possibility of extraterrestrial life.


Gravity is the most powerful and exacting force in the universe. It is pervasive and penetrating. Gravity binds us together, its reach hangs stars in the sky and its grip crushes light. Gravity holds planets together, and leashes them to their suns. Without gravity, stars, comets, moons, nebulae, and even the Earth itself would not exist. Explore how science and humanity discovered, overcame and utilized gravity. Learn what it takes to propel objects into the heavens, to ride a wave or to ski down a slope. Take a front row seat as an astronaut subjects himself to the weightless wonders of the specially modified aircraft used to train astronauts known as the "Vomit Comet."

Gravity. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:33, May 1, 2011, from

Heaven & Hell

Helen Fisher: Why Him? Why Her?

So, who do you love? How does your personality determine who you fall in love with?

According to Dr. Helen Fisher, your love interests may very well be driven by biology.  She is one of the world's leading experts on the science of romantic love.  She's written extensively for scientific journals and is the author of several best selling books.  Her latest book "Why Him? Why Her?" is based on research she performed as chief scientific advisor to; a division of the internet dating website we all know and love -

In this lecture, Dr. Helen Fisher discusses how we can find and keep our perfect match by using nature's chemistry.

Inner Planets

Contrasts the radical differences between Earth and the planets Venus and Mercury. Lessons for life on earth are presented.

Inside Planet Earth

It’s the ultimate voyage our world has to offer: a journey from the temperate surface of our world to the fiery core of the Earth.

With the aid of stunning visual effects, the unexplored interior of the Earth is split wide open, giving us an unbelievable view. From glowing seams of pure iron ore to sparkling diamond caverns to the magnetic field that keeps us safe from the lethal radiation of space… for now, this is the fantastical world we live in — and never see.

From the heights of Mount Everest to the molten lava fields of Hawaii to the very core of our planet, the geologic forces that have changed the planet’s face over the past 4.6 billion years are revealed.

With state-of-the-art effects and the latest scientific information, this is the story of striking meteorites, gigantic eruptions, the movement of continents and other geologic events that have shaped our amazing Earth.

Journeys in Space and Time

Jupiter: The Giant Planet

Visit the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, with over 60 moons.

Light Speed

According to the laws of physics we can never travel faster than the speed of light...or can we? Light speed allows us to see things instantly here on Earth, and shows us the entire history of the universe going back nearly 14 billion years. Learn all about light speed, the ultimate constant in the universe and discover ways scientists envision breaking the "light barrier" which may be the only way the star travel of our imaginations ever comes to reality.

Light Speed. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:42, May 1, 2011, from

Lost Lightning: The Missing Secrets of Nikola Tesla

Alpha waves in the human brain are between 6 and 8 hertz. The wave frequency of the human cavity resonates between 6 and 8 hertz. All biological systems operate in the same frequency range. The human brain’s alpha waves function in this range and the electrical resonance of the earth is between 6 and 8 hertz. Thus, our entire biological system – the brain and the earth itself – work on the same frequencies. If we can control that resonate system electronically, we can directly control the entire mental system of humankind.

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire, region of Croatia. His father, Milutin Tesla was a Serbian Orthodox Priest and his mother Djuka Mandic was an inventor in her own right of household appliances. Tesla studied at the Realschule, Karlstadt in 1873, the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague. At first, he intended to specialize in physics and mathematics, but soon he became fascinated with electricity. He began his career as an electrical engineer with a telephone company in Budapest in 1881. It was there, as Tesla was walking with a friend through the city park that the elusive solution to the rotating magnetic field flashed through his mind. With a stick, he drew a diagram in the sand explaining to his friend the principle of the induction motor. Before going to America, Tesla joined Continental Edison Company in Paris where he designed dynamos. While in Strassbourg in 1883, he privately built a prototype of the induction motor and ran it successfully. Unable to interest anyone in Europe in promoting this radical device, Tesla accepted an offer to work for Thomas Edison in New York. His childhood dream was to come to America to harness the power of Niagara Falls.

Young Nikola Tesla came to the United States in 1884 with an introduction letter from Charles Batchelor to Thomas Edison: “I know two great men,” wrote Batchelor, “one is you and the other is this young man.” Tesla spent the next 59 years of his productive life living in New York. Tesla set about improving Edison’s line of dynamos while working in Edison’s lab in New Jersey. It was here that his divergence of opinion with Edison over direct current versus alternating current began. This disagreement climaxed in the war of the currents as Edison fought a losing battle to protect his investment in direct current equipment and facilities.

(Excerpt from

Mars: The Red Planet

It has been fifty years since man first ventured into space, but the greatest secrets are yet to be revealed. Mars is the planet in our solar system most similar to Earth despite otherworldly features such as the largest volcano in the Solar System. Rumors of life on Mars may be substantiated as NASA orbiters and rovers discover new evidence of frozen water just beneath the rusty soil. Did alien life exist there? As Earth reels with the effects of global warming, Mars becomes the most likely candidate for eventual human habitation. Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to show what life would be like on Mars, and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

Memory Masters

Orlando Serrell from Virginia was ten when he was struck by a baseball during a game. He lost consciousness for a while, but when he woke up again, everything seemed to be normal. Only a year later did Orlando notice that he could remember every single detail of every single day of his life since his accident. Every date, every day of the week, what he had for lunch and of what colour his sister's socks were or what programme was on TV.

Kim Peek from Salt Lake City is the real "Rainman". He doesn't read books - he scans them. Kim records any data like a hard drive: melodies, names, historic dates, the calendar, the complete TV programme listings, every area code of every place in the USA, and the road map of every state. But Kim pays a price for his mysterious abilities: as a child he was said to be strongly mentally disabled - until he could recite his first encyclopedia at four years old. Now in his fifties, the Savant still can't live on his own.

Howard Potter attracted attention when he was a child because he could calculate the exact number of peas on his plate just by a glance. However, he is still dependent on his mother's help in daily life and has been for over 40 years. Howard extracts square roots as easily as how others count the fingers of their hands; he loves prime numbers and the endless reservoir of soccer results.

Mysteries of The Moon

For thousands of years, mankind has found comfort in its presence. It's been a lantern for nighttime travelers, a timekeeper for farmers, and a location finder for sailors at sea. For some cultures, it's even been a god. It's the only cosmic body ever visited by human beings. From afar, the Moon's luminance has captivated us since the beginning of time. And a closer look at the beacon in the dark sky reveals an ever-present source of myth, intrigue, controversy and unsolved mysteries. The field of science may cast an empirical light on some things about the Universe, but lunar experts are the first to admit they don't have all the answers when it comes to our Moon. This episode explores the theories behind Lunar Transient Phenomena that have left scientists stumped for centuries; takes to the Canadian waters to see how the Moon effects our planet through tides; and dusts off some age-old myths and weighs arguments that without our Moon, humanity may not even exist.

Mysteries of the Moon. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 5:43, May 1, 2011, from


Take a tour through the "Art Gallery of the Galaxy" and view what are considered the "crown jewels" of the heavens. Nebulas are mysterious clouds of gas that aren't classified as stars, planets, moons or asteroids. Astronomers use the most sophisticated techniques to view them since they are practically invisible to the naked eye. Nothing less than stunning, nebulas glow, reflect or obscure the galaxy's light with amazing swirls of color. Nebulas mark the regions where the nothingness of space first coalesces, where stars are born and where stars die. Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth.

Nebulas. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:26, May 1, 2011, from

New Frontiers: Onto the Land

This episode tells the story of how "continental drift" brought our ancestors onto the land. Four hundred million years ago, shallow seas around primeval continents were home to most life-forms. The size of the shallow seas decreased as the supercontinents, like Laurasia formed. Some species found freshwater homes inland to escape from a struggle for survival in the ocean.

Continental drift caused the formation of huge mountains. The peaks blocked atmospheric currents, creating clouds that rain. The rain gathered to make rivers at the foot of the mountains. Our ancestor, Eustenopteron, came to live in those rivers at the foot of the Caledonian mountains, where primeval trees called Archaeopteris developed a mild and stable environment.

The leaves of Archaeopteris supplied nutrients for life, but caused oxygen depletion during dry seasons. Eustenopteron and other fish species developed proto-lungs to survive in low oxygen. Huge predators appeared as well. Acanthostega sought to hide from predators in Archaeopteris branches that piled in water near riverbanks. They made their way forward by pushing the branches aside, thus developing a forefoot. After several million years, Pederpes finally made the first step onto the land.


Professor Al-Khalili explores science at the very limits of human perception, where we now understand the deepest mysteries of the universe lie. Jim sets out to answer one very simple question - what is nothing? His journey ends with perhaps the most profound insight about reality that humanity has ever made. Everything came from nothing. The quantum world of the super-small shaped the vast universe we inhabit today, and Jim can prove it.

On Being Dense

This is the third of twelve lectures by Neal deGrasse Tyson.

In a follow up to a lecture covering that which is rarefied in the cosmos, Neil continues on to lecture about that which is dense.  More generally, a discussion about what it means for things to have density at all.


On Being Rarefied

This is the second of twelve lectures by Neal deGrasse Tyson.

Neil discusses some rare phenomenon and objects in the cosmos.


On Being Round

This is the first of twelve lectures by Neal deGrasse Tyson.

Neil discusses some of the machinery that shapes and forms the cosmos.  Why is so much stuff in the universe round?

On The Dark Side

According to the observational research of Vera Rubin on the velocities of stars around galaxies, there is a great deal of matter exerting a gravitational force that we simply cannot see. This matter appears to be of an entirely different nature from the ordinary matter we experience, observe, and interact with in everyday life. There is no spectral evidence of its presence. This “dark matter” makes up roughly 90 percent of the stuff in the universe, and it has important gravitational implications for the future of the universe. Specifically, will the universe keep expanding forever, or will it someday stop and start collapsing upon itself on the way to a big crunch? Perhaps there is just enough matter for the expansion to be halted by gravity, but not enough to collapse. For science there are two problems here: What is the mysterious dark matter? How much of it is there?

One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue

Welcome to the second episode of the acclaimed documentary series Cosmos, narrated by that great science popularizer and humanist we all miss, Carl Sagan.

In this episode, in an effort to understand the likelihood of the development of life on other planets, Sagan explores the process responsible for life on earth: evolution through natural selection. He starts with a delightful story about the Heike crab and Japanese samurai warriors, drawing the crucial distinction between artificial and natural selection, and further explains how the process of evolution, when you observe it carefully, is more elegant and coherent than the inference of an intelligent designer.

Then he walks us through the cosmic calendar showing how the molecular building blocks of life didn't appear until October, how simple multicellular organisms didn't appear until November, and how macroscopic, complex life didn't evolve until around December 15th. The apes from which we descend didn't come into existence until December 31st, at around 10:15am, and anatomically modern humans only came into being 6 minutes before the end of the year.

As if this wasn't enough, we get to visualize our genealogical lineage, and a few others, all the way back from the very first rudimentary forms of simple life to amphibians, reptiles and modern humans, beautifully and powerfully marking our genetic relatedness and cosmic connection. And then we go deep into the nucleus of a cell, discovering the processes by which DNA replicates itself and produces the new generation.

Out Of Africa

Alice Roberts introduces the notion that genetic analysis suggests that all modern humans are descended from Africans. She visits the site of the Omo remains in Ethiopia, which are the earliest known anatomically modern humans, and visits the San people of Namibia to demonstrate the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. In South Africa, she visits Pinnacle Point, to see the cave in which very early humans lived. She then explains that genetics suggests that all non-Africans may descend from a single, small group of Africans who left the continent tens of thousands of years ago. She explores various theories as to the route they took. She describes the Jebel Qafzeh remains in Israel as a likely dead end of a traverse across Suez, and sees a route across the Red Sea and the around the Arabian coast as the likelier route for modern human ancestors, especially given the lower sea levels in the past.

Parallel Universes

Some of the world's leading physicists believe they have found startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own. One possibility is that the universe is so vast that an exact replica of our Solar System, our planet and ourselves exists many times over. These Doppelganger Universes exist within our own Universe; in what scientist now call "The Multiverse." Today, trailblazing experiments by state of the art particle colliders are looking for evidence of higher dimensions and Parallel Universes. If proof is found, it will change our lives, our minds, our planet, our science and our universe.

Parallel Universes. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:40, May 1, 2011, from

Resolved: The Evolutionists Should Acknowledge Creation

William Buckley hosted a creation/evolution debate on the PBS show Firing Line 19 December 1997. The cast of debaters was impressive with four respected names representing each side. The debate was organized into a series of mini-debates, some one-on-one between two individuals, and some involving the whole group.

Saturn: Lord of the Rings

Program takes a brief look at the dynamics of Saturn's rings before exploring the unique and amazing features of the planet itself, including the curious behavior at the poles, and recent discoveries about Saturn's exotic moons.

Science Under Attack

Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse examines why science appears to be under attack, and why public trust in key scientific theories has been eroded - from the theory that man-made climate change is warming our planet, to the safety of GM food, or that HIV causes AIDS.

He interviews scientists and campaigners from both sides of the climate change debate, and travels to New York to meet Tony, who has HIV but doesn't believe that that the virus is responsible for AIDS.

This is a passionate defence of the importance of scientific evidence and the power of experiment, and a look at what scientists themselves need to do to earn trust in controversial areas of science in the 21st century.

Science of Steroids

Over the better part of this century, athletes have sought to increase the natural performance of their bodies by using various means. And while most opted for the development of their muscle mass by using standard techniques, such as lifting weights, running, or other methods, some started taking to artificial substances, which rapidly promoted the growth of muscles and the expression of male traits teenage boys experienced at puberty. These substances, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), most commonly known just as steroids, are actually a derivate of the testosterone male hormone. This is how they work.

The human body is designed in such a way that it has the ability to adapt itself to the harshest of environments. In order to do that, muscles in particular have to have the capability to increase their size over relatively-short periods of time. And this is the basic principle working out relies on. When we go to the gym and work out the biceps, for example, we actually create small tears inside the muscle fibers. These tears are, of course, repaired by the immune system.

The catch is that, upon repair, our body also compensates for the damage, by adding more material to the muscles than that ripped. If this process is repeated time and time again, then the muscle mass visibly grows, to the point where it becomes noticeable. In case of constant recurrence of the phenomenon, you will have the exact muscular mass you wanted before going to the gym.

However, steroids promote this kind of growth artificially, by simply traveling via the blood stream to the cells. There, they hook up to small portions known as androgen receptors, which pick up the molecules and carry them inside muscle cells. At that point, they combine with DNA and promote the release of a specific kind of proteins. These agents have the sole purpose of accelerating cell growth, and, in this case, they help muscle cells grow faster than they normally would.

Because this is an artificial process, the body is not always equipped to handle such massive and rapid changes – and that's why, in most cases, there are severe side effects, including elevated blood pressure, changes in cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease, as well as coronary artery disease. On the other hand, athletes can never be certain of what they're buying, because in some cases pharmacists have been proven to fill prescriptions for steroids that were approved for cattle use, and not for that of humans.

So, maybe under theses circumstances, it may seem like a good idea for those pondering on the thought of picking up steroid use to spend a little more time in the gym each week for the same results, rather than start down a slippery slope, which often leads to dire consequences.

Excerpt from Softpedia

Secrets of The Sun

It is a fireball in the sky, a bubbling, boiling, kinetic sphere of white hot plasma, exploding and erupting. Its size is almost unimaginable--one million Earths would fit within its boundaries. In this violence is born almost all the energy that makes existence on Earth possible, yet, its full mysteries are only now beginning to be understood. From Sun spots to solar eclipses, solar flares to solar storms, the birth of the sun to its potential death, discover the science and history behind this celestial object that makes life on Earth exist.

Seeing Is Believing

From the dawn of civilization, humans have struggled to understand the nature of the universe. The ancients sought answers from pure reason limited by beliefs in gods and an earth-centered universe. Eratosthenes’s determination of the earth’s radius and Ptolemy’s system of planetary motion shed no light on more fundamental issues. In the Renaissance, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton sparked a revolution in thought. They added measurement and the concept of universal physical law to reason and supposition. Science was born, initiating discoveries which, in 1927, brought Edwin Hubble to a California mountaintop observatory with the right question and the means to answer it. The interpretation of his results was astounding: the entire universe was expanding from an explosive moment of creation — the big bang.

Sex In Space

As man moves to colonize the cosmos, the realities of sexual relationships and reproduction need to be addressed. Probe the physiological, psychological and cultural challenges of sex in space. From the sex act through birth, look at how the extreme environments of space exploration might effect copulation, conception and developing human tissues, as well as how issues around sex might impact the emotional lives of astronauts. Get to the bottom of the rumors to find out if space sex has already happened, and look at how the burgeoning space tourism business may soon lead to a boom in space sex.

Sex in Space. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:46, May 1, 2011, from

Snowball Earth: First Complex Life

The hypothesis "Snowball Earth" explains that ice ages, caused by the earliest life-forms, resulted in an evolutional leap — larger-sized life. Atmospheric methane created by microbes initially kept the Earth warm. As microbes that produce oxygen (photosynthesizers) emerged, atmospheric methane was lowered. As a result Earth cooled and the primeval ocean froze to 1,000 meters deep.

Most life may have become extinct during a long period of intense glaciation believed to have lasted several million years. However, some life survived, perhaps in puddles created near volcanic craters. Carbon dioxide accumulated in the air because thick ice sheets prevented ocean water from absorbing it. A green-house effect, created by carbon dioxide, finally melted the ice and fed photosynthesizers.

Hyper hurricanes raged after the great meltdown and stirred up the ocean water, creating an ideal condition for life to prosper and develop collagen. Using collagen, life-forms were able to build larger bodies, and a variety of creatures, called Ediacara biota, emerged for the first time.

Something From Nothing: Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins

Join critically-acclaimed author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and world-renowned theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss as they discuss biology, cosmology, religion, and a host of other topics.

The authors will also discuss their new books. Dawkins recently published The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True, an exploration of the magic of discovery embodied in the practice of science. Written for all age groups, the book moves forward from historical examples of supernatural explanations of natural phenomena to focus on the actual science behind how the world works.

Krauss's latest book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing, explains the scientific advances that provide insight into how the universe formed. Krauss tackles the age-old assumption that something cannot arise from nothing by arguing that not only can something arise from nothing, but something will always arise from nothing.

Space Travel

When man finally broke free of the Earth's gravitational pull the dream of traveling to other planets became a reality. Today scientists are proposing a bizarre array of technologies in the hope of traveling faster through space: from space craft sporting sails that catch laser beams, to propulsion engines powered by a bizarre entity known as anti-matter. Finally explore the science behind the seemingly fanciful notion of warp-drive and a theoretical particle that can travel faster than light.

Space Travel. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 6:02, May 1, 2011, from

Spaceship Earth

Take a high performance ride through the formation of the third planet from the Sun, Earth. A survivor of one of the most violent "neighborhoods" in the universe, learn how earth was created and discover what creatures hold clues to how life began. What evil forces threaten the demise of Earth? Complex and controversial, this is the scientific detective story of all time. Cutting-edge graphics are used along with the stories of scientists and explorers who dare to venture into the uncharted territory of the cosmos.


A stellar explosion, the supernova is the sensational death of a star. It can shine as bright as 100 billion Suns and radiate as much energy as the Sun would emit over 10 billion years. Jets of high-energy light and matter are propelled into space and can cause massive Gamma Ray Bursts and emit intense X-ray radiation for thousands of years. Astronomers believe that this process creates the very building blocks of planets, people and plants. Meet the world's leading Supernova hunters, and take a look at recorded supernovas throughout history.

Supernovas. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 6:11, May 1, 2011, from


The final part of Professor Jim Al-Khalili's documentary series about the basic building block of our universe, the atom.

Al-Khalili explores how studying the atom forced us to rethink the nature of reality itself, encountering ideas that seem like they are from science fiction but in fact are a central part of modern science. He discovers that there might be parallel universes in which different versions of us exist and finds out that empty space is not empty at all, but seething with activity.

The world we think we know - the solid, reassuring world of our senses - turns out to be a tiny sliver of an infinitely weirder and more wonderful universe than we had ever conceived in our wildest fantasies.

The Americas

In this final episode, Roberts describes theories about how humans traversed from Asia to the Americas, asking how they achieved it during the Ice Age, when the route to North America was blocked by ice walls. She describes the traditional theory that the first Americans were the Clovis culture, who arrived through an ice-free corridor during the end of the Ice Age 13,000 years ago. However, she then visits archaeological sites in Texas, Brazil, the Californian Channel Islands and Monte Verde in southern Chile which show 14,000 year old human remains, proving that humans must have arrived earlier via a different route. She shows the skull of the Luzia Woman, found in Brazil, which displays Australasian features rather than the East Asian features of modern day Native Americans; an archaeologist explains that these first Americans may have been Asians who migrated before Asians developed their distinctive facial features. Roberts shows that the earliest Americans may have migrated down the relatively ice-free western coastlines of North and South America. She concludes by noting that when Europeans arrived in 1492, they did not recognise Native Americans as fully human, but modern genetics and archaeology proves that we all ultimately descend from Africans.

The Backbone of the Night

The Big Bang

Many scientists of the early 20th century, including Albert Einstein, found the idea of an expanding universe with an abrupt origin unpalatable. They viewed the universe as static and eternal. Ironically, the most vocal advocate of the expanding universe was Father LaMaitre of the Roman Catholic Church, the institution that had once strenuously resisted Galileo’s ideas. Were the same human constraints that plagued earlier astronomers present in modern times? To a certain extent they were, but now there was a difference. All scientists agreed that the controversy could only be settled by direct and precise measurements. What measurements? For almost 40 years a debate raged until Robert Dicke proposed that the big bang would have produced a flash of light still present everywhere as a glow of radio waves. In 1965 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson unmistakably found that glow, now called the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). The debate was over. Our universe, the totality of all things, had a fiery beginning about 15 billion years ago.

The Biotech Revolution

Genetics and biotechnology promise a future of unprecedented health and longevity: DNA screening could prevent many diseases, gene therapy could cure them and, thanks to lab-grown organs, the human body could be repaired as easily as a car, with spare parts readily available. Ultimately, the ageing process itself could be slowed down or even halted.

But what impact will this have on who we are and how we will live? And, with our mastery of the genome, will the human race end up in a world divided by genetic apartheid?

The Black Hole War

Recognizing a contradiction in Stephen Hawking's claim that things disappear in black holes, Susskind and Gerard t'Hooft offered a counterargument aimed at disproving this controversial theory.

Susskind discusses the story behind the black hole conflict and how it has led to a better idea of how our universe works.

The Clash of the Titans

The first of three programmes in which nuclear physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the story of the greatest scientific discovery ever - that everything is made of atoms.

As scientists delved deep into the atom, into the very heart of matter, they unravelled nature's most shocking secrets. They had to abandon everything they believed in and create a whole new science, which today underpins the whole of physics, chemistry, biology and maybe even life itself.

The series tells a story of geniuses like Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg who were driven by their thirst for knowledge and glory. It is a story of false starts and conflicts, ambition and revelation, a story which leads us through some of the most exciting and exhilarating ideas ever conceived by the human race.

The Edge of Forever

The Einstein Effect

When he was a child, Matt Savage was diagnosed as autistic but at the age of six, Matt Savage learnt to play piano nearly overnight. By seven, he began composing jazz and in the same year, he released his first CD with his own composition. A day before his 13th birthday, Matt performed a gig at New York's most famous jazz club, Birdland, where famous jazzplayers lsuch as Chick Corea proclaimed him to be the "musical talent of the century".

The abilities of Stephen Wiltshire are tremendous. The Savant, diagnosed as an autistic child at the age of three, flew in a helicopter over Rome for BEAUTIFUL MINDS and after that he was able to draw a five meter long aerial panoramic picture of the Eternal City - from memory. As a drawing Savant, Stephen was even able to remember the exact number of windows of important buildings.

Brain researcher Professor Michael Fitzgerald from Dublin draws upon the theory that there is an interrelation between extraordinary creativity and disconnections in the autistic brains. At the University of Sydney, Professor Allan Snyder carries out an experiment where he tries to disable parts of the brain to get more creativity out of them.

The End of The Earth

A few of the cosmic threats to life on earth reviewed include meteors, gamma ray bursts and, in the distant future, evolution of the sun.

The Harmony of the Worlds

The Intelligence Revolution

In the opening instalment, Kaku explains how artificial intelligence will revolutionise homes, workplaces and lifestyles, and how virtual worlds will become so realistic that they will rival the physical world. Robots with human-level intelligence may finally become a reality, and in the ultimate stage of mastery, we'll even be able to merge our minds with machine intelligence.

For the first time, see how a severely depressed patient can be turned into a happy person at the push of a button - all thanks to the cross-pollination of neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

The Key to the Cosmos

The second in Professor Jim Al-Khalili's three-part documentary about the basic building block of our universe, the atom. He shows how, in our quest to understand the tiny atom, we unravelled the mystery of how the universe was created. It's a story with dramatic twists and turns, taking in world-changing discoveries like radioactivity, the atom bomb and the big bang. All this forms part of an epic narrative in which the greatest brains of the 20th century competed to answer the biggest questions of all - why are we here and how were we made?

The Language of Science


Physicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries.
Its legacy is tangible, with terms like algebra, algorithm and alkali all being Arabic in origin and at the very heart of modern science - there would be no modern mathematics or physics without algebra, no computers without algorithms and no chemistry without alkalis.
For Baghdad-born Al-Khalili this is also a personal journey and on his travels he uncovers a diverse and outward-looking culture, fascinated by learning and obsessed with science. From the great mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, who did much to establish the mathematical tradition we now know as algebra, to Ibn Sina, a pioneer of early medicine whose Canon of Medicine was still in use as recently as the 19th century, he pieces together a remarkable story of the often-overlooked achievements of the early medieval Islamic scientists.

The Life and Death of a Star

Ignited by the power of the atom, burning with light, heat and wrath, stars are anything but peaceful. They collide, devour each other, and explode in enormous supernovas--the biggest explosions in the Universe. Using cutting-edge computer graphics, never-before-seen satellite images, and interviews with the world's leading astronomers, take a front row seat to the most amazing light show in the cosmos.

The Lives of the Stars

The Milky Way

We used to think that Earth was at the center of the universe, but now we know we're not even at the center of our own galaxy. Countless wonders exist between where earth is situated and the massive black hole at the galactic center of our solar system. Within the Milky Way can be found the debris of old, dying stars fueling the birth of new stars and at the galactic center hypervelocity stars get catapulted clear beyond the Milky Way's outer rim at unimaginable speeds. Come along for a guided tour of 100,000 light-year-wide family of stars and stellar phenomena we call The Milky Way.

The Milky Way. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 5:57, May 1, 2011, from

The Moon

The moon has comforted man for thousands of years. It's been everything from a god to a compass, and the only cosmic body human beings have ever visited. NASA is planning to build a permanent outpost there. Discover how the moon came to be--if you don't already know, you will be astounded.

The Persistence of Memory

The Power of the Elements

Professor Al-Khalili uncovers tales of success and heartache in the story of chemists' battle to control and combine the elements, and build our modern world. He reveals the dramatic breakthroughs which harnessed their might to release almost unimaginable power, and he journeys to the centre of modern day alchemy, where scientists are attempting to command the extreme forces of nature and create brand new elements.

The Purpose of Purpose

During Richard Dawkins' American tour in March 2009, he gave a talk titled "The Purpose of Purpose". Josh Timonen travelled with Richard to these cities and filmed the talks, which he has edited together here. The content of the talk remains intact, while the editing moves between the different locations and Richard's Keynote presentation.

The Quantum Revolution

The quantum revolution could turn many ideas of science fiction into science fact - from metamaterials with mind-boggling properties like invisibility through limitless quantum energy and room temperature superconductors to Arthur C Clarke's space elevator. Some scientists even forecast that in the latter half of the century everybody will have a personal fabricator that re-arranges molecules to produce everything from almost anything.

Yet how will we ultimately use our mastery of matter? Like Samson, will we use our strength to bring down the temple? Or, like Solomon, will we have the wisdom to match our technology?

The Secret Life of Chaos

Chaos theory has a bad name, conjuring up images of unpredictable weather, economic crashes and science gone wrong. But there is a fascinating and hidden side to Chaos, one that scientists are only now beginning to understand.

It turns out that chaos theory answers a question that mankind has asked for millennia - how did we get here?

In this documentary, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to uncover one of the great mysteries of science - how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? How does order emerge from disorder?

It's a mindbending, counterintuitive and for many people a deeply troubling idea. But Professor Al-Khalili reveals the science behind much of beauty and structure in the natural world and discovers that far from it being magic or an act of God, it is in fact an intrinsic part of the laws of physics. Amazingly, it turns out that the mathematics of chaos can explain how and why the universe creates exquisite order and pattern.

And the best thing is that one doesn't need to be a scientist to understand it. The natural world is full of awe-inspiring examples of the way nature transforms simplicity into complexity. From trees to clouds to humans - after watching this film you'll never be able to look at the world in the same way again.

The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

The size and age of the cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home -- the Earth. For the first time, we have the power to decide the fate of our planet and ourselves. This is a time of great danger, but our species is young and curious and brave, it shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the cosmos and our place within it. Our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.

We're about to begin a journey through the cosmos. We'll encounter galaxies and suns and planets, life and consciousness, coming into being, evolving and perishing. Worlds of ice and stars of diamond, atoms as massive as suns, universes smaller than atoms. But it's also a story of our own planet, and the plants and animals that share it with us. And it's a story about us, how we achieved our present understanding of the cosmos, how the cosmos has shaped our evolution and our culture, and what our fate may be.

We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads, but to find the truth we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact. The Cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant troves of exquisite interrelationships, of the awesome machinery of nature.

The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. The journey for each of us begins here. We are going to explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination, unfettered by ordinary limits on speed and size, drawn by the music of cosmic harmonies. It can take us anywhere in space and time. Perfect as a snowflake, organic as a dandelion seed, it will carry us to worlds of dreams, and worlds of facts. Come with me.

Before us is the cosmos on the grandest scale we know. We are far from the shores of Earth, in the uncharted reaches of the cosmic ocean, strewn like sea froth on the waves of space, our innumerable faint tendrils of light, some of them containing hundreds of billions of suns.

The Story of Everything

The Story of Everything. In 2 eye-popping hours, Hawking reveals the wonders of the cosmos to a new generation. Delve into the mind of the world's most famous living scientist and reveal the splendor and majesty of the universe as never seen before. See how the universe began, how it creates stars, black holes and life -- and how everything will end.

Thunderbolds of the Gods

Thunderbolts of the Gods by David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduces the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. The 108-page full-color monograph, based on the life work of the two authors, offers a revolutionary synthesis of historical investigation and the newly-discovered "Electric Universe."

Talbott and Thornhill claim that cosmic upheaval occurred so recently as to have profoundly affected early human cultures, provoking "incomprehensible" myths, symbols, and commemorative practices. Through a synthesis of ancient testimony, high-energy plasma experiments, and space age discoveries, the authors bring the ancient world to life. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation as well.

Time Travel

"Is Time Travel Possible?" Hawking explores the world's favourite scientific 'what if?' He explores all the possibilities, warping the very fabric of time and space as he goes. From killing your grandfather to riding a black hole, we learn the pitfalls and the prospects for a technology that could quite literally, change everything.

Travellers' Tales

Unexplained Mysteries

Delve into the myths, misconceptions, truths and amazing mysteries of our unique universe. Could life exist on Mars? Is time travel possible and does Einstein's theory of relativity support it? Is there  a companion dark star to our sun and could it pose a threat to earth? Learn about the spark that lit the big bang. Take a journey from science fiction that predicted all these things, to the scientific reality of what they mean to us in the ever-changing universe.

Unexplained Mysteries. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 6:14, May 1, 2011, from

Violent Planet: Secrets of our Past

Earth was born as a result of repeated asteroid collisions, the moon created by a single giant impact event. Then, Earth's size attracted huge meteorites, which slammed into it, causing super-high-temperature rock vapor to cover the entire surface and evaporate all ocean water. The earliest life-forms survived such infernal events by escaping deep into the ground, miraculously emerging again and again.

The Earth has gone through innumerable catastrophic events, and life has survived by acquiring new abilities to live through each crisis. Humans are part of the grand history of life's evolution, which has been closely intertwined with repeated cataclysmic events. Why was Earth able to evolve into a livable planet, but not Mars, which failed to hold its atmosphere and oceans? Find out in the opening episode of the series.

What Happened Before the Big Bang?

They are the biggest questions that science can possibly ask: where did everything in our universe come from? How did it all begin? For nearly a hundred years, we thought we had the answer: a big bang some 14 billion years ago.

But now some scientists believe that was not really the beginning. Our universe may have had a life before this violent moment of creation.

Horizon takes the ultimate trip into the unknown, to explore a dizzying world of cosmic bounces, rips and multiple universes, and finds out what happened before the big bang.

What Makes a Genius

Could you have come up with Einstein's theory of relativity? If not - why not?

This is what Marcus du Sautoy, professor of mathematics, wants to explore. Marcus readily admits that he is no genius, but wants to know if geniuses are just an extreme version of himself - or whether their brains are fundamentally different.

Marcus meets some remarkable individuals - Tommy, an obsessive artist who uses his whole house as his canvas; Derek: blind, autistic, and a pianist with apparently prodigious gifts; Claire who is also blind, but whose brain has learnt to see using sound.

Marcus is shown how babies have remarkable abilities which most of us lose as teenagers. He meets a neuroscientist who claims he has evidence of innate ability, a scientist who's identified a gene for learning, and Dr. Paulus, who has discovered how to sharpen the brain... by electrically turbo-charging it.

What Really Killed The Dinosaurs

Everybody knows what wiped out the dinosaurs. Sixty five million years ago it came from outer space. Scientists claim the whole world burned...then they say dust blocked out the sun. They say the earth plunged into deep freeze for months or years. They say it drove the dinosaurs to extinction. But maybe they've got it all wrong.

Horizon reveals the new science which challenges our understanding of what really killed off the dinosaurs.

Who Speaks for Earth?

Why Are We Here?

Everything you thought you knew about the universe is wrong. It's made of atoms, right? Wrong. Atoms only account for a measly 15% of everything that exists. The mass of the universe consists of something so mysterious and elusive that it has been dubbed dark.

Wildest Weather in the Cosmos

Imagine a tornado so powerful, it can form a planet, or winds sweeping across a planet but blowing at 6,000 miles per hour! How about rain....made of iron? Sounds like science fiction, but this type of weather is occurring daily in our solar system. Scientists are just beginning to unlock the secrets of these planets and their atmospheres. Can this research help scientists solve long unanswered questions that we have about Earth? As our own planet churns with the effects of global warming, it's natural to look into the heavens and wonder about the rest of the real estate.

Wildest Weather in the Cosmos. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 7:28, May 1, 2011, from