Science in Action: The Final Frontier

In spite of the spectacular progress of science, it's incredible how much we don't know. The greatest unknown in science lies beyond Earth. We don't know what 96% of the Universe is made of, exactly how it began or how it will end. We don't know if we are alone and we don't know why complexity, life and ourselves came to be here. In this special edition of Science in Action, Jon Stewart takes a close look at the big questions of the Universe and at the new generation of people and instruments that hope to answer them.

How did our universe begin?
As the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite prepares for launch, Professor George Efstathiou, Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, describes how it will study the afterglow of the Big Bang to see the seeds of structure in the universe.

How did galaxies form?
Andrew Luck-Baker visits the largest single-mount telescope in the world, the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt Graham in Arizona and hears from Director Richard Green how it will study the birth of galaxies.

How are stars and planets born?
Herschel, to be launched with Planck, will be the largest telescope in space. Matt Griffin of Cardiff University describes how its 3.5 metre mirror will collect heat radiation to reveal the maternity wards of stars and planets in distant galaxies and nearby.

Was there life on Mars?
Jon Stewart visits NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. He hears about the recent Phoenix lander which found water ice on Mars, and sees the new Mars Science Lab, under construction, which will search for chemical signs of life.

How did life begin?
Paul Davies of Arizona State University asks if the origin of life was a one-off accident or a common feature of Earth-like planets? He suggests an answer may be found from a search for a shadow-biosphere; a second genesis for life on Earth.

Why are we here?
Why do we live in a universe ‘just right’ for life? Is there a purpose to the cosmos? And how come we have conscious awareness of it all?

27 minutes

Last on

Sun 5 Apr 2009 03:32 GMT

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