Dead or Alive

Image for Dead or AliveNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Professor Brian Cox visits some of the most stunning locations on Earth to describe how the laws of nature have carved natural wonders across the solar system.

The worlds that surround our planet are all made of rock, but there the similarity ends. Some have a beating geological heart, others are frozen in time. Brian travels to the tallest mountain on Earth, the volcano Mauna Kea on Hawaii, to show how something as basic as a planet's size can make the difference between life and death. Even on the summit of this volcano, Brian would stand in the shade of the tallest mountain in the solar system, an extinct volcano on Mars called Olympus Mons, which rises up 27 km.

Yet the fifth wonder in the series isn't on a planet at all. It's on a tiny moon of Jupiter. The discoveries made on Io have been astonishing. This fragment of rock should be cold and dead, yet, with the volcanic landscape of eastern Ethiopia as a backdrop, Brian reveals why Io is home to extraordinary lakes of lava and giant volcanic plumes that erupt 500 km into the sky.

  • Photo: The Grand Canyon

    Photo: The Grand Canyon

    Brian Cox stands at the Grand Canyon, one of the most stunning locations on earth.

  • Photo: Erte Ale Lava Lake

    Photo: Erte Ale Lava Lake

    Brian Cox stands on the rim of the Erte Ale lava lake in Ethiopia.

  • Photo: The Deccan Traps

    Photo: The Deccan Traps

    Brian Cox in the Deccan Traps in India.

  • Explore the Solar System

    Explore the Solar System

    Watch video clips from classic BBC television programmes about the Solar System. The videos cover topics including the planets, moons and astronauts from series such as The Planets, The Sky at Night and Horizon.

    Learn more about the Solar System with clips from the BBC archive


Brian Cox
Paul Olding
Series Producer
Danielle Peck
Executive Producer
Andrew Cohen


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