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Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2003
Voyage in Space and Time with Dr Monica Grady
We are all travellers in space and time. Our spaceship is the planet Earth, carrying us through the universe. Our local journey may only be around the Sun, but the Sun carries us around the Galaxy, which in turn accelerates us through inter-galactic space, as part of the expanding Universe. So how did we start this journey? And where will it end? What sights will we see as we travel? Are there any hazards we should avoid? And do we have any fellow travellers?
Episode 1: Blast off! (46 minutes)
Galaxies and stars are made up of stuff: particles that we can see and measure. These particles might be very small - a hydrogen atom is only 5 hundred-millionths of a millimetre across, for example - but we can understand them and what they are up to. However, only about 3% of the total mass in the Universe is made up of particles like this. The remainder is mysterious. We can't see it. But we know it's there, because it affects the movement of galaxies.
Episode 2: Planet patrol (48 minutes)
Jupiter is nearly 800 million kilometres from the Sun (five times as far away as Earth). It is mainly made of hydrogen and helium gas, but it has a small rocky core. It is orbited by its own system of rocky and icy satellites - 60 of them at the last count.
Episode 3: Collision course (49 minutes)
The second biggest impact that Earth has experienced was probably the K-T event, which happened about 65 million years ago. An asteroid approximately 10 kilometres across hit what is now Chicxulub, in the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico, with an explosive force of about 100 thousand billion tonnes of TNT - about 500 million times greater than that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The Chicxulub crater is now buried, but geophysical surveys estimate its diameter to be around 200 kilometres. The environmental changes that followed wiped out 60% of all species then living, including dinosaurs.
Episode 4: Live from Mars (48 minutes)
Images taken by the US space probe Mariner 9 in 1971-72 showed channel and valley networks similar to river and stream features on Earth. These were assumed to show that Mars had water running across its surface at some time in its history. The 1997 Pathfinder mission then recorded images of a rock-strewn plain showing rounded pebbles and layered structures, which was interpreted as evidence of catastrophic flooding.
Episode 5: Anybody out there? (48 minutes)
The search for life is also a search for water - and one of the most water-rich bodies in the Solar System is thought to be Europa, one of Jupiter's satellites.
Read the full text here:
Royal Institute site:
Filesize.....: 1.68GB (1,812,716,257 bytes) total
Duration...: 4 hours total
Video.......: VC1 720x576 (displayed as 1024x576) 25fps 872Kbps 0.084bpf
Audio.......: WMA 128Kbps CBR
CPU usage on single core 1.6GHz P4 processor under Windows XP SP2 is 80% with WMP v10 or Media Player Classic with ffdshow.
WMP v9 codec gives out of sync audio after moving the progress bar. The files might not play on a CPU slower than 1.6GHz.
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VC1 is similar to H264 and works best with a modern fast CPU
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