There are a lot of questions asked (and answered, sometimes surprisingly so) in the course of the eight episodes that make up the first season of Through the Wormhole
, a science documentary hosted by actor Morgan Freeman. Not just any questions--big questions, cosmic questions, the kind that humans have been asking since the dawn of time. For instance: Can science somehow prove the existence of the Creator? (Could be. One scientist suggests that what people claim are visions of and visitations from God are in fact the result of stimulation of the brain's right temporal lobe, and he invented a "God helmet" to prove it.) Is time travel possible? (Sure. All we have to do is figure out how to make a machine that goes as fast as the speed of light.) What happened before the Big Bang, when the universe was created? (That one's a little tough to explain in a sentence or two.) Are we truly alone, or is there other life somewhere out there? (Many among the astrobiologists who spend a lot of time studying such things are convinced that the universe--or universes, as there may be many more than one--is so incomprehensibly vast that there must be.) These and other topics make for fascinating viewing. To be sure, those who aren't especially scientifically or mathematically inclined may find some of it to be tough sledding; explanations of how gravity might combine with electromagnetism and the so-called weak and strong forces to form a single, unifying force, how "quantum nonlocality" (in which particles are instantly teleported across vast distances) works, or what "retro-causality" means are complex, to say the least. But while the approach is serious and very detailed, it's also entertaining, with lots of visual interest (by way of animation, film clips, visual effects, and such) and often rather amusing (scientists rendered to look like aliens, a fellow who uses a glass of red wine to illustrate his point), and Freeman makes an excellent guide. And with the second season of the series having already aired, fans already have a lot more to look forward to. --Sam Graham
Hosted by Morgan Freeman, Through the Wormhole will explore the deepest mysteries of existence - the questions that have puzzled mankind for eternity (Who-or what-am I? Are we alone? How did this begin? What happened before that?). This series will bring together the brightest minds and best ideas fromthe very edges of Science--Astrophysics, Astrobiology, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory, and more - to reveal the extraordinary truth of our Universe.
1 What Happened Before the Beginning?
Long: Every cosmologist and astronomer agrees: our Universe is 13.7 billion years old. Using cutting-edge technology, scientists are now able to take a
snapshot of the Universe a mere heartbeat after its birth. Armed with hypersensitive satellites, astronomers look back in time to the very moment
of creation, when all the matter in the Universe exploded into existence. It is here that we uncover an unsolved mystery as old as time itself --
if the Universe was born, where did it come from? Meet the leading scientists who have now discovered what they believe to be the origin of our
Universe, and a window into the time before time.
2 Are We Alone?
Long: Aliens almost certainly do exist. So why haven't we yet met E.T.? It turns out we're only just developing instruments powerful enough to scan for
them, and science sophisticated enough to know where to look. As a result, race is on to find the first intelligent aliens. But what would they
look like, and how would they interact with us if we met? The answers may come to us sooner than we imagine, for one leading astronomer
believes she may already have heard a hint of their first efforts to communicate.
3 Is Time Travel Possible?
Long: Einstein's world-shaking Theory of Relativity says that time travel is perfectly possible -- if you're going forward in time. Finding a way to
travel backwards requires breaking the speed of light, which so far seems impossible. But now, strange-but-true phenomena such as quantum
nonlocality (where particles instantly teleport across vast distances) may give us a way to make the dream of traveling back and forth through time
a reality. Step into a time machine and rewrite history, bring loved ones back to life, control our destinies. But if succeed, what are the
consequences of such freedom? Will we get trapped in a plethora of paradoxes and multiple universes that will destroy the fabric of the universe?
4 How Did We Get Here?
Long: Everywhere we look in the most hospitable of environments and in the most extreme we find life. On Earth, life exists everywhere we look. Yet we
have only ever found life on our planet. How did the stuff of stars come together to create life as we know it? What do we really mean by 'life'?
And will unlocking this mystery help us find life elsewhere?
5 What Are We Really Made Of?
Long: What is the universe made of? If you answered stars, planets, gas and dust, you'd be dead wrong. Thirty years ago, scientists first realized that
some unknown dark substance was affecting the way galaxies moved. Today, they think there must be five times Our understanding of the universe and the nature of reality itself has drastically changed over the last 100 years - and it's on the verge of another seismic shift. In a 17-mile-long tunnel buried 570 feet beneath the Franco-Swiss border, the world's largest and most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, is powering up. Its goal is nothing less than recreating the first instants of creation, when the universe was unimaginably hot and long-extinct forms of matter sizzled and cooled into stars, planets, and ultimately, us. These incredibly small and exotic particles hold the keys to the greatest mysteries of the universe. What we find could validate our long-held theories about how the world works and wh