Who's Afraid of a Big Black Hole?

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Duration: 1 hour

Black holes are one of the most destructive forces in the universe, capable of tearing a planet apart and swallowing an entire star. Yet scientists now believe they could hold the key to answering the ultimate question - what was there before the Big Bang?

The trouble is that researching them is next to impossible. Black holes are by definition invisible and there's no scientific theory able to explain them. Despite these obvious obstacles, Horizon meets the astronomers attempting to image a black hole for the very first time and the theoretical physicists getting ever closer to unlocking their mysteries. It's a story that takes us into the heart of a black hole and to the very edge of what we think we know about the universe.

Chapters

10 items
  • Who's Afraid of a Black Hole?

    Black holes are nearly impossible to understand or research. However, they could answer many of the universe's biggest questions.

  • Understanding Black Holes

    Very little is known about them, but many scientists choose to study black holes. One believes he's seen one form and develop.

  • General Theory of Relativity

    Einstein's theory has not only predicted the existence of black holes, but also what it would be like to travel into one.

  • Questioning Einstein

    Some theorists have found a problem with Einstein's theory, making the understanding of a black hole even more peculiar.

  • Finding a Black Hole

    A professor spent 10 years developing an infrared telescope that allowed him to see a black hole 25,000 light years away.

  • Super Massive Black Hole

    These types of black hole are so powerful they may actually affect the galaxy in which they are situated.

  • Quantum Mechanics

    The study of all physical reality at a minute level is applied to try and understand black holes further. This breaks down however when gravity is introduced into the equation.

  • The Big Bang

    The object found at the heart of a black hole appears to be the very object that started the Big Bang, although scientists are still no closer to understanding either.

  • Virtual Telescope

    Dr Shep Doeleman has hooked up radio telescopes from across America to try and photograph a shadow cast by a black hole; something no one has ever done before.

  • Final Summary

    Will scientists ever be able to produce a complete theory of everything? And if so, how will it come about?

  • Photo: Michio Kaku

    Photo: Michio Kaku

    Professor Michio Kaku, who teaches at City University of New York, is an specialist in string field theory.

  • Photo: Max Tegmark

    Photo: Max Tegmark

    Professor Max Tegmark of Massachusetts Institute of Technology stands in front of Niagara Falls.

Credits

Producer
Stephen Cooter
Director
Stephen Cooter
Executive Producer
Andrew Cohen

Broadcasts

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