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Hunt for Alien Evidence
In the third episode, the discovery of extraterrestrial life might face an impossible challenge: the physics of the universe itself; but using cutting-edge tech, experts might be on the verge of a groundbreaking find -- and the evidence could already be in hand.
How the Universe Works Series 8
Life Beyond Venus
Chris Lintott and Maggie Aderin-Pocock report on the reaction to the dramatic announcement of the discovery of phosphine gas in the clouds of Venus, a gas that could be a sign of life. Venus remains an inhospitable and unlikely host. But if not Venus, where in the solar system is the best place to look for alien life? Chris and Maggie investigate the latest missions to Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Away from the search for life, Pete Lawrencepreviews the best meteor showers of the year.
The Sky at Night
What sort of alien civilizations might exist in the vastness of space? Terra is the fictional world imagined in Episode 4, a planet nine billion years old, twice as old as Earth. Old enough that a truly advanced intelligence could evolve. It was once a fertile world, now it is barren. But life can still thrive here in artificial domes. Over time, they've evolved not to need their bodies. They exist only as neural tissue. They never age, they never die. They're monitored and maintained by robots.
If alien civilizations are statistically so likely, why haven't astronomers found any sign of them? Where is everyone? Every time we look at an individual star, that's like dropping a bucket in the ocean. We're going to have to look at a lot of stars and to search through a lot of data until we find the clue that leads us to another civilization.
Planets beyond our solar system are known to astronomers as exoplanets. They are at trillions of miles from Earth and yet, it might be possible to detect a faint signature of life in them. From the light of the stars they orbit that passes through the atmosphere of an exoplanet, it is possible to capture the chemical fingerprint of the elements in that atmosphere.
The fictional world Eden is orbiting not one star, but two. The light from its twin stars powers photosynthesis, pumping more oxygen into the atmosphere than in Earth, allowing life to thrive. Grazers are constantly alert to danger, because the canopy is home to predators perfectly evolved to live among the trees. In Episode 3, another topic are fungi and the role they could play on exoplanets. Ecologist Thomas Crowther talks about the role mycelial networks play in the Rothiemurchus forest in Scotland.
Most planets we know of are so hellish, it seems impossible that anything could live. But it's amazing where life can take hold in the Earth. Astrobiologists look for simple single-celled microbes known as extremophiles in places as Danakil Depression, known in Ethiopia as 'The Gateway to Hell.'
In Episode 2, the fictional world is Janus, a planet in such a close orbit than its rotation is locked by the star's gravity and it always shows the same face to its sun. On one side of the planet, it's always daytime, a searing desert. On the other side, it's forever night, a frozen shadowland. Squeezed between the two, a sliver of perpetual twilight. Freezing meltwater flows from the cold side, carving canyons through the landscape. Deep in these canyons lives an extraordinary five-legged creature.
The Last Dance
History of the Eagles
The Nazis, A Warning From History
The Nazis, A Warning From History
What is the Right Diet for You
Inside Bills Brain: Decoding Bill Gates
The Life of Mammals
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