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Series: Cosmos 2014

 

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Standing Up in the Milky Way

   2014    Science    HD
Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson takes a tour of the Solar System and the known universe establishing the components of Earth's "address" within the Virgo Supercluster. He then shares the story of the person who championed an expansive understanding of Earth's place in the universe by presenting Renaissance Italian Giordano Bruno's vision of the universe as a limitless expanse of space and time. He then makes an exploration into the Cosmic Calendar, which dates back to the dawn of the Big Bang (similar to the presentation from episode 1 of the original series). The episode ends with deGrasse Tyson narrating how he met his mentor Carl Sagan, who hosted the first Cosmos series.

The Electric Boy

   2014    Science
This episode provides an overview of the nature of electromagnetism, as discovered through the work of Michael Faraday. Tyson explains how the idea of another force of nature, similar to gravitational forces, had been postulated by Isaac Newton before. Tyson continues on Faraday, coming from poor beginnings, would end up becoming interested in studying electricity after reading books and seeing lectures by Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. Davy would hire Faraday after seeing extensive notes he had taken to act as his secretary and lab assistant. After Davy and chemist William Hyde Wollaston unsuccessfully tried to build on Hans Christian Ørsted's discovery of the electromagnetic phenomena to harness the ability to create motion from electricity, Faraday was able to create his own device to create the first electric motor by applying electricity aligned along a magnet. Davy, bitter over Faraday's breakthrough, put Faraday on the task of improving the quality of high-quality optical glass, preventing Faraday from continuing his research. Faraday, undeterred, continued to work in the Royal Institution, and created the Christmas Lectures designed to teach science to children. Following Davy's death, Faraday returned to full time efforts studying electromagnetism, creating the first electrical generator by inserting a magnet in a coil of wires. Tyson continues to note that despite losing some of his mental capacity, Faraday concluded that electricity and magnetism were connected by unseen fields, and postulated that light may also be tied to these forces. Using a sample of the optical glass that Davy had him make, Faraday discovered that an applied magnetic field could affect the polarization of light passing through the glass sample (a dielectric material), leading to what is called the Faraday effect and connecting these three forces. Faraday postulated that these fields existed across the planet, which would later by called Earth's magnetic field generated by the rotating molten iron inner core, as well as the phenomena that caused the planets to rotate around the sun. Faraday's work was initially rejected by the scientific community due to his lack of mathematical support, but James Clerk Maxwell would later come to rework Faraday's theories into the Maxwell's equations that validated Faraday's theories. Their combined efforts created the basis of science that drives the principles of modern communications today.

The World Set Free

   2014    Nature
This episode explores the nature of the greenhouse effect (discovered by Joseph Fourier and Svante Arrhenius), and the evidence demonstrating the existence of global warming from humanity's influence. Tyson begins by describing the long-term history of the planet Venus; based on readings from the Venera series of probes to the planet, the planet had once had an ocean and an atmosphere, but due to the release of carbon dioxide from volcanic eruptions, the runaway greenhouse effect on Venus caused the surface temperatures to increase and boiled away the oceans. Tyson then notes the delicate nature of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can influence Earth's climate due to the greenhouse effect, and that levels of carbon dioxide have been increasing since the start of the 20th century. Evidence has shown this to be from mankind's consumption of oil, coal, and gas instead of from volcanic eruptions due to the isotopic signature of the carbon dioxide. The increase in carbon dioxide has led to an increase in temperatures, in turn leading to positive feedback loops of the melting polar ice caps and dethawing of the permafrost to increase carbon dioxide levels. Tyson then notes that humans have discovered means of harvesting solar power, such as Augustin Mouchot's solar-driven motor in the 19th century, and Frank Shuman's solar-based steam generator in the 1910's. Tyson points out that in both cases, the economics and ease of using cheap coal and oil caused these inventions to be overlooked at the time. Today, solar and wind-power systems would be able to collect enough solar energy from the sun easily. Tyson then compares the motivation for switching to these cleaner forms of energy to the efforts of the Space race and emphasizes that it is not too late for humanity to correct its course.

Some of the Things That Molecules Do

   2014    Science    HD
The story begins with Tyson sitting at a campfire, and telling how the wolf changed through artificial selection, and selective breeding into the dog breeds around today. He then enters the Ship of Imagination, and explains natural selection with the process that helped to create the polar bears. Along the way he talks about DNA, genes and mutation. Next he goes to a forest and describes the Tree of life, this leads him to discussing the evolution of the eye. He then discusses extinction, by going to a monument called the Halls of Extinction, dedicated to the broken branches of the tree of life. Explaining the five great Extinction events. He then tells how some life has survived, and then focuses on the tardigrade. From there he talks about what other kinds of life might have been created on other worlds. He then goes to Saturn's moon Titan. From there he speculates about life and how it first began. He then returns to Earth and tells about abiogenesis and how life changed and evolved. The show ends with an animated sequence from the original series of life's evolution from one cell to humans.

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 Philosophiæ 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.
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