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How the Universe Works

All Episodes 2018 - 2020

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  • 2020-07-15T23:00:00-04:00s at 2020-07-15T23:00:00-04:00 on Science
  • 2010-04-26T03:00:00Z
  • 42 mins
  • 2 days, 2 hours, 18 mins (71 episodes)
  • United States
  • English
  • Documentary
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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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89 episodes

Special 1 Secrets of Pluto and Beyond

  • 2018-01-09T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S05E04 and S05E02

Special 2 Black Holes Mashup

  • 2018-01-16T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S06E01 and S05E03

Special 3 Solar System Mashup

  • 2018-01-30T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S06E03 and S04E04

Special 4 Milky Way Mashup

  • 2018-02-06T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of episodes S06E04 and S03E07

Special 5 Journey to Frozen Worlds

  • 2018-02-13T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S06E05 and S05E04.

This episode is a mashup of S06E06, "Secret History of Mercury", and S04E02, "Earth, Venus's Evil Twin".

Special 7 When the Universe Kills

  • 2018-02-27T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S06E07, "The Quasar Enigma" and S05E06, "The Universe's Deadliest".

Special 8 Secrets of Alien Worlds

  • 2018-03-06T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S06E08, "Strange Lives of Dwarf Planets", and S05E09, "Strangest Alien Worlds"

This episode is a mashup of "How the Universe Works", S06E09, "War on Asteroids", and "Strip the Cosmos", S01E03, "Killer Asteroids"

Special 10 Doomsday in the Milky Way

  • 2018-12-04T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S06E04, "Death of the Milky Way", and S03E07, "Did a Black Hole Build the Milky Way?".

This episode is a mashup of S05E04, "Secret History of Pluto", and S05E02, "Mystery of Planet 9".

Special 12 Secrets of the Death Stars

  • 2019-01-15T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S07E01, "Nightmares of Neutron Stars", and S05E05, "Stars That Kill".

Special 13 Episode 2

  • 2019-01-22T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S07E02, "When Supernovas Strike", and S01E06, "Supernovas".

Special 14 Mysteries of the Invisible

  • 2019-01-29T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S07E03, "The Interstellar Mysteries", and S06E10, "Mystery of Spacetime".

Special 15 When Stars Die

  • 2019-02-12T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

This episode is a mashup of S07E05, "Secret World of Nebulas", and S01E04, "Stars".

This episode is a mashup of S07E06, "Did the Big Bang Really Happen?", and S03E04, "First Second of the Big Bang".

This episode is a mashup of S07E07, "Battle of the Dark Universe", and S05E08, "The Dark Matter Enigma".

1x01 Big Bang

  • Series Premiere

    2010-04-26T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

This is the greatest story ever told, the creation of everything us. The programme investigates how the Universe came into existence out of nothing, and how it grew from a miniscule point, smaller than an atomic particle, to the vast cosmos we see today.

1x02 Black Holes

  • 2010-05-03T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Black Holes,the most powerful destroyers in the Universe, the most mysterious phenomena in the heavens. For years they were only speculation, now modern astronomy is proving them frighteningly real and showing that they may well shape everything we see.

1x03 Galaxies

  • 2010-05-11T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Galaxies, home to stars, planets and us, come in all shapes and sizes. Witnesses the evolution of galaxies; from clouds of cold gas floating in the voids of space 13 billion years ago, to the magnificent spirals that fill our night sky.

1x04 Stars

  • 2010-05-11T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

The story of how stars were made by the Universe and how Stars then went on to engineer everything else in that very universe. They changed the Universe by spawning further generations of stars, then planets and eventually the building blocks of life.

1x05 Planets

  • 2010-05-18T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

There are just eight planets in our solar system, but there could be a hundred billion planets in our Milky Way galaxy alone. This show follows the journey of planets as they grow from grains of dust to the magnificently diverse worlds we see today.

1x06 Supernovas

  • 2010-05-18T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Stars are not eternal; they are dying in unimaginably large explosions called supernovas. Second only to the Big Bang, these explosions are where creation and destruction meet. Only now have we begun to understand how these wonders in our sky work.

1x07 Solar Systems

  • 2010-05-25T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Is our solar system unique? Since the first discovery of a planet orbiting another star, some 280 alien solar systems have been identified. It's only by looking at solar systems far beyond our own, that we can understand how remarkable our universe is.

1x08 Moons

  • 2010-05-25T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Moons come in every possible shape and size. Home to incredible natural phenomena like gigantic geysers and colossal volcanoes, moons also offer perhaps the best chance of finding alien life in the Universe - and they probably exist in the billions.

2x01 Volcanoes - The Furnaces of Life

  • Season Premiere

    2012-07-12T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Scientists are discovering volcanoes on worlds we once thought dead. From our nearest planetary neighbour to tiny moons billions of miles away, today we are discovering volcanoes on alien worlds. Are these worlds where, tomorrow, we might find life?

2x02 The Winds of Creation

  • 2012-07-19T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Destructive weather forces are symptoms of Earth's creative energy. In our quest to discover if we are alone in the universe, we shouldn't just look for worlds, we should look for weather; find that megastorm, and maybe we will find alien life.

2x03 Planets from Hell

  • 2012-07-26T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Over the last twenty years we have discovered an extraordinary zoo of planetary nightmares outside our own solar system, all of them truly wild worlds, a collection of monsters. Now we must face the question: Is every planet out there a planet from hell?

The Universe is a magnetic minefield. Spinning star systems crackle and explode, magnetic monsters rip worlds apart, star-quakes shoot beams of devastating energy, and galactic flamethrowers fire gamma-rays half way across the Universe. Will we find Earth in the firing line?

We owe our existence to the stability of earth's orbit. But we are the freaks: everywhere else we look we find orbits are chaotic, unstable, and violent. Yet on the very largest scale, orbits are also a creative force, even constructing the fabric of the universe itself.

2x06 Comets - Frozen Wanderers

  • 2012-08-16T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

We follow the odyssey of a comet as it sails through space, watching every move as it evolves from a chunk of ice and rock into an active nucleus engulfed in a gaseous haze. What we learn is a revelation; comets are even more mysterious than we imagined.

From icy worlds with more fresh water than Earth to flying mountains of pure metal, asteroids shaped our past and promise much for the future. Could these enigmatic space rocks hold the key to how life in the Universe arises and is extinguished?

2x08 Birth of the Earth

  • 2012-08-30T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

The Earth was formed by a series of cataclysms without which we would not exist. Could the same events have created other earth-like planets elsewhere in the Universe inhabited by creatures like us?

3x01 Journey From the Center of the Sun

  • Season Premiere

    2014-07-10T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

How does light escape from the sun? We take a journey from the centre of the sun, following the path of light. We witness its fiery birth from in the core, its 430,000 mile battle against gravity and magnetism, and its escape from the solar surface.

3x02 The End of the Universe

  • 2014-07-17T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

How and when will the Universe end? Gravity and dark matter are poised to annihilate the Universe in a big crunch. Expansion and dark energy may tear it apart. Or, a phase transition could kill us tomorrow in a cosmic death bubble.

Beneath Jupiter's clouds lie our solar system's deepest secrets: from its violent youth, through the birth of life to the death of the sun. Scientists are discovering that the solar system, the Earth and every living thing exists because of Jupiter.

3x04 First Second of the Big Bang

  • 2014-07-31T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

The first second of the Universe, the creation of everything when space, time, matter and energy burst into existence. It is the most important second in history, which seals the Universe’s fate and defines everything that comes after - including us.

3x05 Is Saturn Alive?

  • 2014-08-07T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Saturn’s secrets are out. The ferocious weather, the evolving ring system and the discovery of active geology on Saturn’s moons has rewritten the textbooks. Scientists are looking for life on Saturn’s moons and they may have found it on Titan.

3x06 Weapons of Mass Extinction

  • 2014-08-14T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Asteroids strike, planets collide, black holes blast out death rays, volcanoes erupt and ice engulfs the planet. These are the universe’s weapons of extinction. They’ve happened before - wiping out entire species, and they will happen again. Are we next?

What built the Milky Way? New research might now have the answer, revealing an unlikely hero. At the heart of our galaxy sits a super massive black hole, one of the most destructive objects in the Universe. Could it be our creator?

3x08 Our Voyage to the Stars

  • 2014-08-28T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

One day, a cosmic disaster will make life on Earth impossible. To survive, we must find a new home amongst the stars. Scientists are already developing new propulsion systems to take us to these distant worlds.

Is there another Earth out there with liquid oceans, rocky continents and life like us? Astronomers seek the answer with spectroscopy, direct imaging and telescopes. They hope to find evidence of atmospheres, magnetospheres and signs of life.

4x01 How the Universe Built Your Car

  • Season Premiere

    2015-07-15T03:00:00Z — 44 mins

Beneath the hood of your car lies the history of the Universe. The iron in your chassis, the gold in your stereo and the copper in your electronics all owe their existence to violent cosmic events that took place billions of years ago.

4x02 Earth, Venus's Evil Twin

  • 2015-07-22T03:00:00Z — 44 mins

There is a hellish planet in our solar system; covered in thick dense clouds and roasted by colossal temperatures. Incredibly this is a vision of Earth's future. To understand how our world will be destroyed we need to look at Earth's evil twin Venus.

4x03 Monster Black Hole

  • 2015-07-29T03:00:00Z — 44 mins

A look inside the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way to discover terrifying secrets about parallel universes, wormholes, and space-time.

4x04 Edge of the Solar System

  • 2015-08-05T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Huge magnetic bubbles millions of miles wide; strange invisible matter, and a death star tearing through bands of icy comets, flinging them into violent orbits.

4x05 Dawn of Life

  • 2015-08-12T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Discovering how life on Earth came to be; the possibility that life on Earth come from another planet.

4x06 Secret History of the Moon

  • 2015-08-19T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Our Moon is stranger than you think, and we reveal its incredible secrets. Can we thank the Moon for life on Earth? What explains the mysterious tunnels beneath its surface? Is a lunar base the key to humanity's future in space?

4x07 The First Oceans

  • 2015-08-26T03:00:00Z — 44 mins

For years, scientists suspected that the oceans came from molecules delivered to Earth from distant stars by asteroids, but a new discovery suggests that their true origins may be more exotic.

4x08 Forces of Mass Construction

  • 2015-09-02T03:00:00Z — 43 mins

Scientists attempt to understand how this strange force of magnetism works.

5x01 Most Amazing Discoveries

  • Season Premiere

    2016-11-23T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

A countdown of discoveries that changed everything known about the universe.

5x02 Mystery of Planet 9

  • 2016-11-30T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Examining a ninth planet that may be on the outer edge of the solar system. Scientists speculate that it could be 10 times the size of Earth and have moons capable of hosting life.

Recent discoveries could explain how supermassive black holes grow so big, one of the universe's most mysterious questions. Neither dark matter nor cannibalism can fully explain these monsters, but the latest science might finally provide an answer.

5x04 Secret History of Pluto

  • 2017-01-04T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Pluto is the subject, with an investigation into whether the planet has an underground ocean. The first close-up images of Pluto revealed unimaginable secrets of this mysterious frozen world. Now, scientists investigate if Pluto is home to a warm ocean of liquid water beneath its surface, and whether this underground ocean could harbour life.

5x05 Stars That Kill

  • 2017-01-11T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Exploring the real-life Death Stars in the cosmos that could snuff out Earth without much effort; the science of the destructive power behind six of the deadliest star; vampire stars; supernovas; rogue stars.

5x06 The Universe's Deadliest

  • 2017-01-18T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

The deadliest spots in the cosmos are explored.

The evolution of life on Mars before a series of cataclysmic events transformed the planet from a watery world to a hostile one; scientists believe life will find a way to continue despite the setbacks.

5x08 The Dark Matter Enigma

  • 2017-02-01T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Dark matter is the biggest mystery of the cosmos. Scientists know that it has been vital to the universe since its birth, and new discoveries reveal that it could create black holes, cause mass extinctions, and might even shape life on Earth itself.

5x09 Strangest Alien Worlds

  • 2017-02-08T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

A look at worlds much stranger than Earth. Some of these strange worlds don't have stars, others are made out of diamonds. Also: whether another Earth-like planet will ever be found.

6x01 Are Black Holes Real?

  • Season Premiere

    2018-01-10T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

New discoveries are challenging everything we know about black holes, and astronomers are beginning to question if they even exist. The latest science tries to explain how they work and what they look like, despite the fact we've never actually seen one.

Planets that orbit two suns instead of one might be deadly hell worlds, but new discoveries reveal that sci-fi star systems with binary stars might be optimal places for alien life.

Our solar system hides a dark and violent past, and new discoveries reveal that the earth and planets were formed from the destruction of strange alien worlds that came before us.

6x04 Death of the Milky Way

  • 2018-01-31T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

The Milky Way is dying, and experts are investigating what's killing it.

Uranus and Neptune are mysterious, icy worlds at the edge of the solar system; new discoveries reveal that these strange planets may have helped start life on Earth.

6x06 Secret History of Mercury

  • 2018-02-14T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Mercury is a deadly world, facing attacks from the sun, comets, and other planets, and even though it's the smallest planet in the solar system, it has a dangerous secret a dangerous secret that might one day threaten life on Earth.

6x07 The Quasar Enigma

  • 2018-02-21T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Quasars are the brightest and most powerful objects in our universe, and though they have shaped the cosmos, they might ultimately destroy everything that exists.

Our solar system is home to hundreds of strange, tiny worlds called dwarf planets, and new discoveries reveal the secrets of these mysterious places.

6x09 War on Asteroids

  • 2018-03-07T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Scientists are using cutting-edge technology to stop an asteroid apocalypse, and for the first time, mankind is closer than ever to keeping Earth safe from these killer space rocks.

6x10 Mystery of Spacetime

  • 2018-03-14T03:00:00Z — 42 mins

Spacetime is the secret structure that controls the universe, and this strange four-dimensional substance controls time, light, and energy. It will also determine how the universe will end.

7x01 Nightmares of Neutron Stars

  • Season Premiere

    2019-01-09T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Neutron stars are strange and violent phenomena that defy the laws of physics, and new discoveries reveal that these bizarre nightmares are far more deadly than we ever thought, with the power to destroy planets and even other stars.

7x02 When Supernovas Strike

  • 2019-01-16T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Supernovas are the violent death of giant stars, and new discoveries reveal that these cataclysmic events create the elements that are essential to all life in the universe.

7x03 The Interstellar Mysteries

  • 2019-01-23T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Interstellar space is the space between the universe's stars and new discoveries reveal that it's not empty and unremarkable as previously thought, but filled with weird objects and strange phenomena that might hold the darkest secrets of our cosmos.

7x04 How Black Holes Made Us

  • 2019-01-30T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Black holes are not the violent monsters people think they are, and new discoveries reveal that they might have been essential to creating stars, giving light, and building the universe itself.

7x05 Secret World of Nebulas

  • 2019-02-06T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Nebulas are the strange structures of cosmic gas and dust where stars are born and die, and new discoveries reveal the secrets of these mysterious places.

New discoveries are causing astronomers to question if the Big Bang really happened, and using the latest science, they investigate if it wasn't just the start of our universe but many mysterious multiverses.

7x07 Battle of the Dark Universe

  • 2019-02-20T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Dark matter and dark energy are locked in an epic battle for control of the cosmos, and the winner will determine the fate of the universe. New discoveries might reveal which force will emerge victorious.

7x08 Hunt for Alien Life

  • 2019-02-27T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

The latest discoveries suggest life beyond this planet; scientists investigate if earth's life began elsewhere in the universe, and whether humans need to evolve to know for sure.

7x09 Finding the New Earth

  • 2019-03-06T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

New discoveries have revealed thousands of exoplanets beyond our solar system. Some resemble earth enough that one could be a new home for humanity. Even with cutting-edge technology, finding the perfect one is the scientific challenge of the age.

7x10 Cassini's Final Secrets

  • 2019-03-13T03:00:00Z — 42 mins

For twenty years, NASA's Cassini spacecraft revealed the strange secrets of Saturn until it vaporized in its atmosphere in a blaze of glory. But today its legacy lives on, as fresh data from the probe helps scientists make brand-new discoveries.

8x01 Asteroid Apocalypse: The New Threat

  • Season Premiere

    2020-01-03T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

If a massive asteroid collides with earth, it could end life on our planet as we know it; new discoveries and cutting-edge tech reveal just how close we are to apocalypse and what it would take for the world's leading space agencies to stop it.

8x02 NASA's Journey to Mars

  • 2020-01-10T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

NASA is on a mission to send humans to Mars within just 15 years, but to reach this next frontier of space exploration, experts must discover new technology and cutting-edge science that protects astronauts from the Red Planet's deadliest killers.

8x03 Hunt for Alien Evidence

  • 2020-01-17T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

The discovery of extraterrestrial life might face an impossible challenge: the physics of the universe itself; but using cutting-edge tech, experts might be on the verge of a groundbreaking find -- and the evidence could already be in hand.

8x04 Death of the Last Stars

  • 2020-01-24T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Our universe's stars are dying off faster than new ones are born, and using the latest technology, experts investigate the secrets of the last stars of the cosmos and what this stellar apocalypse means for life on earth.

8x05 Secrets of Time Travel

  • 2020-01-31T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Time travel might be more possible than we ever imagined, and today, cutting-edge technology and the latest research into black holes and wormholes is helping experts get steps closer to discovering how to travel through time.

8x06 When NASA Met Jupiter

  • 2020-02-07T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

NASA's Juno spacecraft is part of a cutting-edge mission to explore the mysteries of Jupiter, and as this mighty probe is pummeled with deadly radiation, it gathers new data that could change everything we know about the solar system's biggest planet.

8x07 Edge of the Universe

  • 2020-02-14T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

We don't yet know where the edge of the universe is or what happens there; but thanks to cutting-edge technology and new discoveries, experts might finally reveal the secrets of the phenomena that can be found in deepest reaches of the cosmos.

8x08 Monsters of the Milky Way

  • 2020-02-21T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

The center of the Milky Way is home to strange and deadly phenomena that we don't yet understand, but using the latest science, experts are revealing how the supermassive black hole our galaxy's core shapes life on Earth.

8x09 Earth's Death Orbit

  • 2020-02-28T04:00:00Z — 42 mins

Earth's journey through the universe is a perilous one, and new discoveries reveal that our planet is heading toward a mysterious area of the cosmos that could eject us out of the Milky Way and into oblivion.

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