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How the Universe Works 

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A users guide to the cosmos from the big bang to galaxies, stars, planets and moons. Where did it all come from and how does it all fit together. A primer for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered.
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Cast

Series cast summary:
Phil Plait ...  Himself - Astronomer / ... 58 episodes, 2010-2019
Michelle Thaller ...  Herself - Astronomer / ... 57 episodes, 2010-2019
Mike Rowe ...  Narrator 54 episodes, 2010-2019
Lawrence Krauss ...  Himself - Cosmologist / ... 41 episodes, 2010-2018
Hakeem Oluseyi ...  Himself - Astrophysicist / ... 41 episodes, 2014-2019
James S. Bullock James S. Bullock ...  Himself - Astrophysicist 29 episodes, 2014-2019
Richard Lintern ...  Himself - Narrator 26 episodes, 2010-2018
Moogega Cooper ...  Herself - Planetary Protection Engineer 25 episodes, 2015-2019
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Storyline

A users guide to the cosmos from the big bang to galaxies, stars, planets and moons. Where did it all come from and how does it all fit together. A primer for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 April 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Come funziona l'Universo See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(8 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The narrator Erik Dellums is also the voice for Bethesdas Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's Nazir in the Dark Brotherhood faction. See more »

Connections

Featured in DWDD University (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great Special Effects Lightweight on the Science
19 September 2017 | by zaphodb1See all my reviews

How the Universe Works is a Discovery Channel series on Astronomy. To date there are five series consisting of eight or nine episodes each. The first series was developed in 2010 and the fifth 2016, so the material is reasonably up to date.

The first series was about galaxies, stars, planets etc. providing a good introduction to these topics. The later series tended to cover breaking theories such as Planet Nine, exoplanets and dark matter. As a result, as the theory is updated or revised, the information in the show tends to get a little dated.

The shows format is narration, supplemented by addition contributions from scientists and researchers involved in the relevant area. The show also uses CGI and graphics to give an 'artist's impression' of phenomena such as a solar system forming, as well as telescope images of planetary nebulas, open clusters, galaxies and Hubble's ultra-deep field.

However, I found the material to be fairly light weight. For example in the series one episode on Supernovas they describe a Type 1A Supernova: "The moment the white dwarf star starts to fuse carbon and oxygen into iron its doomed. Suddenly the white dwarf explodes." This is bunkum. When a white dwarf accretes enough matter from a companion star and its mass reaches the Chandrasekhar limit (due to electron degeneracy - approx. 1.4 solar masses), the star collapses, undergoing thermonuclear runaway, blowing itself to bits. About 0.6 solar masses of radioactive Nickel 56 is formed, which decays into radioactive Cobalt 56 and then into stable Iron 56. This process produces a consistent light curve and Type 1A supernovae known as Standard Candles, were used to determine distances of remote galaxies. Similarly for a Type II supernova, the explanation is also inaccurate. In addition, some very large stars (> 90 solar masses) collapse directly into black holes without any visible explosion, although this depends on metallicity and the star's rotation rate. These are not mentioned on the show.

So while the show popularises astronomy with great special effects, the facts have been dumbed down for ease of public consumption. Nevertheless the show is a good introduction to our amazing universe and how it works. 7/10

P.S. For a more technical explanation, try Dr Alex Filippenko's 96 lecture series (available on video): Understanding the Universe an Introduction to Astronomy.


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