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Origins Hour 4
Back to the Beginning
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This hour-long program is divided into six chapters. Choose any chapter below and select QuickTime, RealVideo, or Windows Media Player to begin viewing. If you experience difficulty viewing, it may be due to high demand. We regret this and suggest you try back at another time.

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Chapter 1
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Discovering the Big Bang

This chapter:

  • points out that early cosmologists believed the cosmos always existed—an idea known as steady state theory.

  • explains the nature of light.

  • notes that space bodies emit microwave and radio wave radiation, and the sky is studied using these forms of radiation.

  • reports how scientists discovered the cosmic background radiation.

  • states how the Big Bang was discovered.

running time 8:55

Chapter 2
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A 30-Year Search

This chapter:

  • reports on Dr. Arno Penzias' Nobel Prize award for his discovery of the Big Bang.

  • questions how the universe became filled with galaxies.

  • presents the results of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite that was launched into near Earth orbit to study microwave radiation patterns.

running time 7:52

Chapter 3
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Race for a Sharper Image

This chapter:

  • explains how the cosmic microwave background can reveal information about the properties of the universe including its age, composition, number of atoms, and expansion rate.

  • follows the scientific teams working on the Cosmic Background Imager (CBI) and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) as they compete to provide a higher-resolution picture of the cosmic microwave background.

running time 8:21

Chapter 4
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The Picture Emerges

This chapter:

  • describes WMAP's difficult three-month journey to its destination.

  • reports on findings from the CBI and WMAP probes.

  • explains that the images can be interpreted to reach back to almost the Big Bang, when the universe was the size of a pea.

  • explains how stars form and explode, thereby providing enough energy for the remaining iron to undergo reactions to create all known remaining elements.

running time 9:09

Chapter 5
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Forging the Elements

This chapter:

  • notes that stars forge all elements in the universe.

  • explains how elements are formed in a star.

  • explains how humans are made of stardust.

running time 8:37

Chapter 6
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A Universe Hospitable to Life

This chapter:

  • asks whether life and the conditions for life are widespread throughout the universe.

  • shows the Deep Extragalactic Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph being used to study light from distant galaxies.

  • explains that elements such as oxygen and others are measured to determine a galaxy's readiness for life and that our Sun's levels of elements are used as a benchmark to consider whether a distant galaxy could have planets and life.

  • reports that at least a thousand galaxies have been detected that have elements that, over a great deal of time, could lead to life.

running time 6:45




Origins

Back to the Origins homepage for more articles, interviews, interactives, and slide shows.



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