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198 of 203 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2011
Our family had long been on the pre-order list waiting for this 2-dvd set to arrive. Now that it has, we all agree that if we had known what an excellent ("excellent" is truly an understatement. "Magnificent" would be more accurate!)set this would be, we would have all been a lot more impatient for its arrival, but then we might have missed the surprise. By all means, start at the beginning with the Big Bang (track one on disc one), and then when you've seen Black Holes (track two on disc one),... well, we won't say more, but be prepared for some surprising revelations. It is just incredible how far astronomers have come since the last round of dvds dealing with how the universe works, especially with how "black holes" work and the part they play in completing the circle on "how the universe works". This program will catch you up in no uncertain terms, and it's our bet that you'll love every minute of it. The graphics are superb, and keep in mind that they are illustrating information that has not been presented so beautifully and clearly before (as far as we know). Even if you have been following technical research closely, you'll be thrilled to see the fresh twist on the computer graphics. Personally, we found the scientific and philosophical aspects so unforcedly entertwined as to make this series a joy for those who lean toward either "pure science alone" or toward "intelligent design" (we have both in our family). This series can speak to us all in its effort to do justice to what in anyone's terms can be unreservedly recognized as "magnificent design". Once again, in our family's unanimous view, this is, at least to date, an unparalleled presentation, which we unconditionally recommend.
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110 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2011
I love this series. I have found it to be more informative - in a lower level and a higher level of understanding than Through the Wormhole. Wormhole seems to focus on all of these possible "out there" concepts - Higgs Boson, the origin of the universe, before the big bang - this series focuses more on what we do know - and how we came to know it. It wasn't for sale when I was watching it on TV - so what did I do? I called the Science Channel and left them a message stating "you MUST sell this DVD - it's amazing, incredible, and I want to show my students the excerpt on Supernovas". I know that my science non-major students and my science major students will watch the episode on supernovas and be able to understand and appreciate the creation of atoms. I am so happy this went on sale - I was so excited that I had my institution pre-order it! I recommend it to anyone interested in the cosmos, interested in science, and interested in learning. Start here, work your way to Wormhole, and then top it off with Unlocking the Universe - the trifecta of videos!
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98 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2011
I saw the entire "How the Universe Works" series when it premiered on Science Channel in January and have been eagerly awaiting its DVD release ever since. The commentators are interesting-I especailly liked black hole hunter Dr. Andrea Ghez and "Bad Astronomer" himself,Dr. Phil Plait, and Mike Rowe's narration was well-done; but the visuals were the real star. To me, it felt like actually cruising through the universe in a spaceship. But, like almost every other show about supernovae, they get it wrong and have sound effects when stars explode. Remember the tagline for "Alien": In space, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM. :-)
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This DVD set provides an excellent introduction to astronomy and cosmology:

- The technical level of the presentation is enough to satisfy most science enthusiasts, yet accessible for the whole family (my 10-yo daughter was totally hooked).

- The script is clear and narrated very well.

- The short interviews with scientists add variety and show their passion and excitement.

- The graphics are highly effective and stunningly vivid, even without Blu-ray.

- Most importantly, the information will (or should) blow your mind. This is stuff every educated and inquisitive person needs to know.

- Last but not least, the price is a bargain.

Needless to say, highly recommended!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2011
A series of eight well-constructed episodes, each about 45 minutes long, "How the Universe Works" explains, in language that won't make you feel like you've bitten off more than you could chew, a bit about the cosmos: what holds it together, how the various components (from matter and energy to stars, planets and nebulae) interact, and how it all works. The visuals are stunning, the musical score only further enhances this series, and the interviews with physicists, astronomers and other scientists in the field help to break down a bit about what science knows about space, what the scientists theorize, and their rationale behind the theories. As other reviewers have stated, this series is very intriguing but doesn't use a lot of technical jargon; it's explained very clearly and very concisely, so that "Average Joe and Jane" at home can follow along with the eight very gripping and very interesting episodes.

One can't argue with the price either - very agreeable. It seems like is almost giving this series away, considering how packed it is with information.

Bottom line: Extremely highly recommended, whether astronomy/cosmology is a genuine interest of yours, or whether you've ever looked up on a starry night and wondered, "How does it all work?"
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2012
This is not an actual review of the Blu-Ray version of the series since it is not released yet, but rather a description of the contents as I quote from the website for the DVD version. Nonetheless, I believe the Blu-ray should have the same content and I hope this will be helpful to many. There are 8 episodes in total:
1) Extreme Stars, 2) Black Holes, 3) Big Bang, 4) Alien Galaxies, 5) Alien Solar Systems, 6) Extreme Planets, 7) Alien Moons, and 8) Supernovas.

Here is the detailed description from the Discovery cahnnel website:
"A fascinating How The Universe Works DVD, will give you a front-row seat to the inner workings of our world. See how stars were engineered, how deadly black holes can be and get the scoop on the Big Bang Theory. Also in a Universe DVD, watch as scientists discuss all that is alien, extreme plants and finally the immense explosions, also known as supernovas. An outer Space DVD is a must-have for anyone interested in the science of the Universe and all that it encompasses.

A How The Universe Works DVD, begins by engineering the Universe and shows you how the cosmos is designed, built, and actually works. From the beginning of time, Stars, Galaxies, Planets, Solar Systems, and more have been working individually and together to produce all that is and all that we see. See, in the Universe DVD, as never before the inner workings of our world, and explore black holes, supernovae, neutron stars, dark energy, and all the titanic forces that make us who we are. With a dynamic cast of experts and a new generation of CGI, Engineering the Universe looks under the celestial hood to reveal the inner workings of outer space: the story of how it's made and how it runs. An outer Space DVD is your ultimate Cosmos Operator's Manual.

Buy the How The Universe Works DVD and join experts as they reveal the creation, expansion and operation of outer space.

Extreme Stars
This program tells the story of how stars were engineered by the Universe and how Stars then went on to engineer everything else in that very universe. We'll learn how nuclear fusion in the core of these stars keeps them burning for billions of years and is what powers our nearest star 'the sun'. They transformed the Universe by spawning further generations of stars, then planets and eventually the building blocks of life itself. We will follow the life-cycle of stars from 'red giants' like our own sun that die leaving beautiful 'planetary nebula', to massive 'red supergiants' which die young in violent events called supernovae, creating elements from the gold in our wedding rings to the iron in our blood.

Black Holes
Black Holes are the most powerful and deadly destroyers in the Universe and the most mysterious phenomena in the heavens, incredible chilling consequences of the forces that hold the Cosmos together. For years they were only speculation, now modern astronomy is proving them frighteningly real and showing that these monsters may well be pulling the cosmic strings, controlling the shape of everything we see. We will learn how they are born from the deaths of massive stars, what it might be like to travel in to a black hole and that soon we might be able to get an actual glimpse of the super massive black hole at the heart of our milky way.

Big Bang
This program tells the greatest story ever told, the origin of space and the origin of time. We witness the Big Bang, the moment of creation and the birth of everything that we see around us. Thirteen point seven billion years ago there was nothing, no space, no time. Out of nothing, explodes an infinitely hot and dense soup that rapidly expands from the size of a subatomic particle to the size of a galaxy in a fraction of a second. Then the formation of fundamental forces that shape our Universe, the epic battle between matter and antimatter and the creation of the first particles that make up the cells in your body, the ground beneath our feet and the stars in the night sky. This is the most important time in history with more happening in the first second to shape our Universe than in the 13 billion years since.

Alien Galaxies
Galaxies, home to stars, planets and us, come in all shapes and sizes. From majestic spirals to giant balls of stars and gas, these immense cities of stars are the building blocks of the Universe itself. How the Universe Works witnesses the evolution of galaxies; from clouds of cold gas 13 billion years ago, to the magnificent spirals that fill our night sky. Super-massive black holes, dark, giant monsters lurking in the heart of galaxies, and mysterious dark matter, the glue that holds galaxies together. Filaments of gas, link galaxies up in a colossal cosmic web to form the largest structure in the Universe and protects them from an even more enigmatic force"¦dark energy, that threatens to rip the universe apart.

Alien Solar Systems
The Solar System -- eight planets and a star; our familiar, stable corner of the universe. But how much do we really know about its formation? And is it unique? Recent discoveries are revealing its secrets -- a brutal history of colliding planets, some devoured by the sun, whilst future models predict a violent death. Since the first discovery of a planet orbiting another star in 1992, some 280 alien solar systems have been identified. It's only by looking at solar systems far beyond our own, that we can understand just how remarkable our small patch of universe really is.

Extreme Planets
There are just eight planets in our solar system, but there could be a hundred billion in our Milky Way galaxy alone. As we enter into a golden age of planetary discovery the possibilities are endless. Pushing out deep into space we are finding planets that are stranger than we could ever have imagined -- from giant burning gas spheres to icy orphaned worlds wandering in interstellar space. So just how did they get to be so different? How the Universe Works follows the remarkable journey of planets as they grow from grains of dust to the magnificently diverse worlds we see today.

Alien Moons
Recent explorations have revealed moons to be the chemistry labs of the cosmos and the most likely places where we might find life beyond our planet. While some moons are no more than asteroids caught by the snare of gravity; others are part of giant family systems and almost planets in their own right. Some of the most diverse worlds in the Universe, we know of 300 moons just in our own Solar System, but there may be billions. How these moons are born, live, and die is fundamental to understanding our planet's turbulent origins and our place in the Universe.

Stars are not eternal; they are dying all the time in unimaginably large explosions, called supernovas. Second only to the Big Bang, the explosions are where the very essence of creation and destruction meet. Deep in the core of a massive star gold, lead, oxygen, and every other complex element, is created. When the star's nuclear furnace runs empty these vital materials are hurled across space, creating all the planets, plants and oceans we see today. Supernovas even made us, right down to the iron in our blood. Only now have we begun to understand how these wonders in our sky work -- and what they can teach us about the origins of the universe and ultimately, its future."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great scot someone changed the physics on me. Every time I turned around I had to unlearn something. This is well presented without too much redundancy. Most things are explained to may satisfaction. Occasionally they do make a leap and leave a whole in the logic. However they fill it in on a later episode.

I watched many parallel versions as Through the Wormhole and some older presentations from Steven Hawking. But none are quite as clear and compelling as this presentation. I watched an episode a night as let it mill around before the next.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2011
Although I have not bought the series yet{It is in my Christmas wish list), when I saw it on TV, I knew that I wanted it. Spectacular graphics, accurate information, and good narration. As an amateur astronomer with over forty years of experience, I have yet to see a better series(Cosmos being the only one, although a bit outdated)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
...with beautiful video. However, it's repititious both from a content and re-use of the same video perspective. Same beautiful shots over and over, like a reality TV show would do. To the point where I'm looking forward to the end of the episode due to the annoying 'repeat' factor.

To reiterate, very informative, beautiful video and sound, however, presented in a format that can become very annoying.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2012
Too bad about the obnoxious "dramatic" way the information is presented in a manner similar to those awful reality tv programs --everything loud and dramatic and is repeated over and over and over. But, it's what one would expect from Discovery. If you can tolerate all that, I'd recommend watching it, because the information and visuals are really good.
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