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Series: Cosmos 2014

 

A Sky Full of Ghosts

   2014    Science
Tyson begins the episode by explaining the nature of the speed of light and how much of what is seen of the observable universe is from light emanated from billions of years in the past. Tyson further explains how modern astronomy has used such analyzes via deep time to identify the Big Bang event and the age of the universe. Tyson proceeds to describe how the work of Isaac Newton, William Herschel, and James Clerk Maxwell contributed to understanding the nature of electromagnetic waves and gravitational force, and how this work led towards Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity, that the speed of light is a fundamental constant of the universe and gravity can be seen as distortion of the fabric of space-time. Tyson describes the concept of dark stars as postulated by John Michell which are not visible but detectable by tracking other stars trapped within their gravity wells, an idea Herschel used to discover binary stars. Tyson then describes the nature of black holes, their enormous gravitational forces that can even capture light, and their discovery via X-ray sources such as Cygnus X-1. Tyson uses the Ship of Imagination to provide a postulate of the warping of spacetime and time dilation as one enters the event horizon of the black hole, and the possibility that these may lead to other points within our universe or others, or even time travel. Tyson ends on noting that Herschel's son, John would be inspired by his father to continue to document the known stars as well as contributions towards photography that play on the same nature of deep time used by astronomers.

Hiding in the Light

   2014    Science
This episode explores the wave theory of light as studied by mankind, noting that light has played an important role in scientific progress, with such early experiments from over 2000 years ago involving the camera obscura by the Chinese philosopher Mozi. Tyson describes the work of the 11th century Arabic scientist Ibn al-Haytham, considered to be one of the first to postulate on the nature of light and optics leading to the concept of the telescope, as well as one of the first researchers to use the scientific method. Tyson proceeds to discuss the nature of light as discovered by mankind. Work by Isaac Newton using diffraction through prisms demonstrated that light was composed of the visible spectrum, while findings of William Herschel in the 19th century showed that light also consisted of infrared rays. Joseph von Fraunhofer would later come to discover that by magnifying the spectrum of visible light, gaps in the spectrum would be observed. These Fraunhofer lines would later be determined to be caused by the absorption of light by electrons in moving between atomic orbitals when it passed through atoms, with each atom having a characteristic signature due to the quantum nature of these orbitals. This since has led to the core of astronomical spectroscopy, allowing astronomers to make observations about the composition of stars, planets, and other stellar features through the spectral lines, as well as observing the motion and expansion of the universe, and the existence of dark matter.

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.

The Clean Room

   2014    Science
This episode is centered around how science, in particular the work of Clair Patterson (voiced in animated sequences by Richard Gere[33]) in the middle of the 20th century, has been able to determine the age of the Earth. Tyson first describes how the Earth was formed from the coalescence of matter some millions of years after the formation of the Sun, and while scientists can examine the formations in rock stratum to date some geological events, these can only trace back millions of years. Instead, scientists have used the debris from meteor impacts, such as the Meteor Crater in Arizona, knowing that the material from such meteors coming from the asteroid belt would have been made at the same time as the Earth. Patterson also examined the levels of lead in the common environment and in deeper parts of the oceans and Antarctic ice, showing that lead had only been brought to the surface in recent times. He would discover that the higher levels of lead were from the use of tetraethyllead in leaded gasoline resulting in government-mandated restrictions on the use of lead.

Sisters of the Sun

   2014    Science
The constellation of the Pleiades provides a vehicle for us to explore a series of paradoxes and epochal discoveries for humanity. The untold story of the modern "sisters of the sun," the early 20th century female astronomers, led by two deaf women, at Harvard who catalogued the stars. It's also the story of the young British woman who joined forces with them, her defiance of the world's leading expert, and how she taught the world what the stars are really made of.
Japan Earth Enchanted Islands
Japan Earth Enchanted Islands

   2017    Nature
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood

   2016    History
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead

   2017    History
A Traveler Guide to the Planets
A Traveler Guide to the Planets

   2010    Science
The Secrets of Quantum Physics
The Secrets of Quantum Physics

   2014    Science
D-Day
D-Day

   2013    History
Nova Wonders
Nova Wonders

   2018    Medicine
Conquest of the Skies
Conquest of the Skies

   2015    Nature