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Broadcast on the National Geographic Channel
February 15, 2009, at the following times (Central times):
7:00 PM -- Known Unitverse, The Fastest,
the fabric of space and time.
8:00 PM -- Known Universe, The Biggest and
the vastness of the universe is discussed.
9:00 PM -- Known Universe, The Most
deconstructing the biggest explosions in the universe,
including asteroid impacts, supernovas, and the big
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NEED FOR SPEED
In space, light and time act differently than
here on Earth, and
speed is a different concept when time can theoretically be
stopped in its tracks.
THE SPEED DEMON OF THE UNIVERSE
a.. Traveling at 100 miles per
hour, it would take 14 weeks
to get to the moon, 50 years to get to Mars, and
3,100 years to reach the outermost planet Neptune
b.. The speed of light is 186,000
miles per second, or
approximately 670 million miles per hour.
c.. No matter how fast you are
moving when you observe
it, the speed of light will always be 186,000 miles
d.. Nothing in the universe
travels faster than light.
e.. At the speed of light, time
WHAT IF AN HOUR COULD BE A MINUTE?
a.. Time is relative to the person
observing it and time may
change depending on how fast the observer is
b.. Time passes more slowly for
satellites in orbit when
compared to time on Earth because those satellites
c.. Satellites used for the Global
Positioning System are
launched with their clocks running faster so that
they reach orbit they mark time the same as Earth-
d.. Because time passes more
slowly in orbit around Earth,
astronauts arrive home a little younger than if they
spent the same amount of time on Earth.
e.. If you were to travel near the
speed of light for what
seems to be 20 years, you would return to Earth
sands of years in the future.
PLAYING WITH SPACE-TIME
a.. In physics, the three
dimensions of space and the fourth,
separate dimension of time combine to form a single
struct throughout the cosmos called space-time.
space-time, scientists can measure both the place
time something occurs in one mathematical unit.
b.. Gravity is the result of
massive objects weighing down
the fabric of space-time, much as a heavy ball
warp a rubber sheet.
c.. Wormholes are theoretical
tunnels through the fabric
of space-time that could allow travelers to
tremendous distances instantaneously.
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Big & Small Facts
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BIG THINGS IN SPACE
a.. More than 99% of our solar
system's mass is the sun.
b.. More than one million earths
could fit comfortably inside
c.. In 2006, the discovery of
Eris, which is larger than Pluto,
demoted the latter's status from a planet to a dwarf
In May of 2008, the International Astronomical
changed both dwarf planets' status to plutoids.
d.. Earth is in what's known as
the "Goldilocks" zone: not
too hot and not too cold. That's because it is 93
miles away, the perfect distance from the sun. If it
5% closer, searing heat would wipe the surface
Make it 10% further away and the planet would turn
a frozen wasteland covered with glaciers miles
e.. Eighty years ago, we thought
the entire universe consisted
of what we now know as the Milky Way galaxy. In
our galaxy is just one of hundreds of billions of
f.. Space is extremely vast. Each
galaxy is home to around
200 billion stars. This is more stars than there are
of sand on all the beaches of planet Earth.
g.. Our Milky Way galaxy has a
diameter of 100,000 light
years. If you could take a flashlight and beam it
the galaxy, it would take the light 100,000 years to
the other side.
h.. Back in the 1990s, we hadn't
discovered any planets
around other stars outside our solar system. As of
we've discovered over three hundred.
i.. The Kepler telescope,
scheduled to launch in February
2009, will look for other Earth-like planets around
SMALL THINGS ON EARTH
a.. The human hair is about the
thinnest thing you can see
with your naked eye. That hair is about 300,000
b.. The atom is 99.9999999999%
c.. If an atom was expanded to the
size of a large cathedral,
the nucleus would be the size of a housefly, and
housefly would be heavier than the entire cathedral
d.. Life on Earth was made
possible by the death of stars.
The debris of exploding stars in the Big Bang
tured the atoms of which the human body is
which means we are all made of 'star stuff!'
f.. When you take a glass of water
and you drink oxygen
atoms, what you're really drinking is the remnants of
g.. There are 92 chemical elements
in the natural world,
and with the exception of the six noble gases, they
mingle in some astounding ways. For example, from
marriage of a corrosive solid (sodium) and a toxic
(chlorine), we get salt. Another instance is with two
nature's most explosive elements, hydrogen and
They combine rather ironically to form our life
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BLOWING UP THE UNIVERSE
Our planet is vulnerable to a surprisingly
varied number of
roads to destruction. Let's hope we can avoid demolition for
at least the next couple of thousand years.
a.. The largest nuclear weapon
ever detonated was a
50-megaton hydrogen bomb dubbed the Tsar Bomba.
The weapon was detonated in northern Siberia by the
Soviet Union in 1961.
b.. The 2004 earthquake in
Indonesia that spawned a
devastating tsunami had the power of roughly 32
tons of TNT - 650 times more powerful than our most
powerful nuclear detonation.
THE SUN - AN EVENTUAL THREAT?
a.. The temperature of the sun's
core is 27 million degrees.
b.. The sun is powered by nuclear
fusion. Every second it
fuses hundreds of millions of tons of hydrogen into
c.. It can take a particle of
light created at the sun's core
1 million years to find its way to the surface.
d.. Sunlight takes eight minutes
to travel from the sun to
e.. Near the end of its life, the
sun will swell into a red giant
and could swallow Earth.
SUPERNOVAE AND ASTEROIDS
AND GAMMA RAYS, OH MY!
a.. When a star explodes, it is
called a supernova.
b.. In an average galaxy,
supernovae occur on average
twice a century.
c.. A typical supernova will emit
more energy than our
sun will during its entire 10- billion-year
d.. Supernovae are so bright they
can outshine every
other star in the galaxy.
e.. Supernovae only occur in large
stars at least nine
times as massive as our sun.
f.. On average, about every 100
million years all organ-
isms weighing more than 50 pounds die due to a
g.. Scientists believe that 65
million years ago, an asteroid
measuring 6 miles in diameter struck Earth off the
of the present-day Yucatan Peninsula, killing the
h.. Every day Earth is pelted with
25 tons of sand- and
dust-sized particles coming in from space.
i.. About once a year a meteor the
size of a car enters
the Earth's atmosphere.
j.. About every 100 years a space
rock the size of the
Statue of Liberty impacts Earth.
k.. The most powerful explosions
ever witnessed in the
universe are gamma-ray bursts, which are mega-
supernovae that shoot jets of deadly high-energy
radiation, or gamma rays.
l.. A gamma-ray burst is trillions
of times brighter than
m.. If a gamma-ray burst occurred
within 6,000 light
years of Earth, it could wreak havoc on the planet.
THE BIGGEST BANG OF THEM ALL
a.. The most powerful explosion in
history was the
explosion that created the universe. We call it the
b.. The big bang was not an
explosion of matter into
an empty space, but an explosion of space and
of time, which were both created by the event.
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When watching the 2nd episode of the Known
Universe, I discovered some info on the launch
of the Kepler space telescope on March 5, an
adventure that will likely discover some of the
multitude of likely earthlike planets in the coming
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February 15, 2009
Earth-like planet could be
discovered within three years
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Galaxy has billions of planets that support life forms,
says leading astronomer
A planet similar to Earth could be discovered
distant solar system within three years, according
to a leading astronomer.
Planets that support life forms could be
the universe, and about 100 billion of them may exist
in our own galaxy, said Dr Alan Boss, a researcher
at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington.
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[insert -- With over 200 billion galaxies, if Boss is
correct that would equate to over 100 billion times
200 billion earthlike planets in the known universe.
That's 20,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 which
is 20 sextillion earthlike planets in the known uni-
verse. -- end excerpt]
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The US space agency, Nasa, is due to launch
space telescope, called Kepler, dedicated to
searching for planets that are similar to, or smaller
The Kepler telescope will gaze continuously
100,000 stars in two constellations known as
Cygnus and Lyra for more than three years.
"Within three to four years from now, these
scopes will tell us just how frequently Earths
occur. It's an exciting time to be alive," Boss
"If we find that Earth-like planets are as
as I'm claiming, we'll make a very strong case that
not only are they probably habitable, they are also
going to be inhabited, but that will be up to the
next generation of space telescopes to prove,"
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