Has the universe always existed? How did it become a place that could harbor life? Are we alone, or are there alien worlds waiting to be discovered? NOVA presents some startling new answers in Origins, a groundbreaking four-part NOVA miniseries. New clues from the frontiers of science are presented by dynamic astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. As the host of Origins, Tyson leads viewers on a cosmic journey to the beginning of time and to the depths of space, in search of the first stirrings of life and its traces on other worlds. The series' first hour, Origins: Earth is Born, gives viewers a spectacular glimpse of the tumultuous first billion years of Earth a time of continuous catastrophe. Episode two, Origins: How Life Began, zeroes in on the mystery of exactly how it happened. Join the hunt for hardy microbes that flourish in the most unlikely places: inside rocks in a mine shaft two miles down, inside a cave dripping with acid as strong as a car battery's, and in noxious gas bubbles erupting from the Pacific Oceans floor. The survival of these tough microorganisms suggests they may be related to the planet's first primitive life forms. Hour three starts with a bang the Big Bang in which everything began. Origins: Back to the Beginning explores how the colossal, mind-boggling forces of the early universe made it possible for habitable worlds to emerge. In episode four, Origins: Where are the Aliens?, Tyson explores such provocative questions as: Would "E.T.s" resemble "us" or the creatures of science fiction? And are there planets on which life can flourish rare or common in our universe? Special DVD features include: materials and activities for educators; a link to the NOVA Web site; scene selections; closed captions; and described video for the visually impaired. (Final features TBD) On two discs (disc size TBD). Region coding: All regions. Audio: Dolby stereo. Screen format: Letterboxed.
is a spectacular four-part miniseries, first presented on PBS's Nova
, about the beginnings of the universe, our solar system, life on Earth, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life on other planets. It is not a stretch to say that Origins
, among all television documentaries about the evolving cosmos, offers the most breathtaking dramatic visual representation of Earth's tumultuous history, and the clearest, step-by-step explanation of the formation of planets, the development of water and living organisms, and the forces that shape other parts of our galaxy and beyond.
Hosted by the engaging Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, Origins consists of four one-hour episodes. The first focuses on the initial billion years of Earth history, research into the emergence of water (which appeared surprisingly early, as it turns out, and could have been delivered by comets) and the birth of the moon. The second show concerns hardy, single-cell organisms on Earth developing, in some quite inhospitable places, into complex life forms, while the third covers the Big Bang and the final installment looks at theories involving extraterrestrial life. If the topics sound familiar, their presentation is always fresh, dynamic, and thoroughly accessible. Watching Origins would be a great, context-providing preface to the study of a number of niche subjects, including geology, physics, biology, and much else. An invaluable production. --Tom Keogh