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Mystery of the Alien Asteroid

   2018    Science    HD
When a mysterious cigar-shaped object is spotted tumbling through our solar system, experts race to uncover it's true nature. The object, nicknamed Oumuamua, meaning 'a messenger that reaches out from the distant past' in Hawaiian, was discovered by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Since its discovery, scientists have been at odds to explain its unusual features and precise origins, with researchers first calling it a comet and then an asteroid before finally deeming it the first of its kind: a new class of 'interstellar objects.'
A recent paper by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics raises the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, which is 10 times as long as it is wide and travelling at speeds of 196,000 mph, might have an 'artificial origin.' The theory is based on the object's 'excess acceleration,' or its unexpected boost in speed as it travelled through and ultimately out of our solar system.
Series: Space Deepest Secrets

When Knowledge Conquered Fear

   2014    Science
The episode begins with Tyson describing how pattern recognition manifested in early civilization as using astronomy and astrology to predict the passing of the seasons, including how the passage of a comet was often taken as an omen. Tyson continues to explain that the origin of comets only became known in the 20th century due to the work of Jan Oort and his hypothesis of the Oort cloud. Tyson then continues to relate the collaboration between Edmond Halley and Isaac Newton in the last part of the 17th century in Cambridge. The collaboration would result in the publication of PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, the first major work to describe the laws of physics in mathematical terms, despite objections and claims of plagiarism from Robert Hooke and financial difficulties of the Royal Society of London. Tyson explains how this work challenged the prevailing notion that God had planned out the heavens, but would end up influencing many factors of modern life, including space flight. Tyson further describes Halley's contributions including determining Earth's distance to the sun, the motion of stars and predicting the orbit of then-unnamed Halley's Comet using Newton's laws. Tyson contrasts these scientific approaches to understanding the galaxy compared to what earlier civilizations had done, and considers this advancement as mankind's first steps into exploring the universe. The episode ends with an animation of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies' merging based on the principles of Newton's laws.
Series: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still

   2014    Science
This episodes the nature of the cosmos on the micro and atomic scales, using the Ship of the Imagination to explore these realms. Tyson describes some of the micro-organism that live within a dew drop, demonstrating parameciums and tardigrades. He proceeds to discuss how plants use photosynthesis via their chloroplasts to convert sunlight into chemical reactions that convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and energy-rich sugars. Tyson then discusses the nature of molecules and atoms and how they relate to the evolution of species. He uses the example set forth by Charles Darwin postulating the existence of the long-tongued Morgan's sphinx moth based on the nature of the comet orchid with pollen far within the flower. He further demonstrates that scents from flowers are used to trigger olfactory centers in the brain, stimulating the mind to threats as to aid in the survival of the species. Tyson narrates how Greek philosophers Thales and Democritus postulated that all matter was made up of combinations of atoms in a large number of configurations, and describes how carbon forms the basic building block for life on earth due to its unique chemical nature. Tyson explains on the basic atomic structure of protons, neutrons, and electrons, and the nature of nuclear fusion that occurs in most stars. He then discusses the existence of neutrinos that are created by these nuclear processes in stars, and that detecting such sub-atomic particles which normally pass through matter require subterranean facilities like the Super-Kamiokande that were used to detect neutrinos from the supernova SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud before light from the explosion were observed due to their ability to pass through matter of the dying sun. Tyson compares how neutrinos were postulated by Wolfgang Pauli to account for the conservation of energy from nuclear reactions in the same manner as Darwin's postulate on the long-tongued moth. Tyson concludes by noting that there are neutrinos from the Big Bang still existing in the universe but due to the nature of light, there is a "wall of infinity" that cannot be observed beyond.
Series: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Comet of the Century

   2013    Science
Comet ISON can well be the brightest and most spectacular comet for a generation. It appeared above the eastern horizon from December 2013 as a glorious streak across the sky. ISON has been travelling towards the sun for ten thousand years and will make only one orbit through its corona before disappearing off into the outer solar system.
But as well as providing a great spectacle, ISON's tail of vaporised gas and water, hundreds of millions of kilometres long, will give insights into some of the greatest mysteries of science; it will help explain the origins of the solar system, whether earth's water was delivered on comets and even whether we are alone in the universe.

Comets: Frozen Wanderers

   2012    Science
We think of comets as beautiful glowing balls of light streaking across our skies with their long sweeping tails, yet comets are so much more than just a cosmic firework display. Comets have a uniquely important place in modern science. As time machines from the early universe, they could hold the key to unlock the secrets of the cosmos. Comets could even be the origin of life itself. We follow the incredible odyssey of a comet as it sails through the solar system, watching it's every move as it evolves from a dormant chunk of ice and rock into a tumbling, violently active nucleus engulfed in a gaseous haze. What we learn is a revelation; comets are even more mysterious and fascinating than we had ever imagined.
Series: How the Universe Works
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

   2014    Science
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle

   2018    History
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2014    Culture
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2015    Culture
Space Deepest Secrets
Space Deepest Secrets

   2020    Science