Everything and Nothing, a two part documentary series presented by professor Jim Al-Khalili. In the first episode we explore the question what is everything? Many people understand the universe as being “everything” but what actually is it and how have how we have come to our understanding as it is today? Before the 16th century we still firmly believed that everything orbited the Earth and the stars were all in a fixed distance and position much like the shell of an egg. It was only until Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) came up with a revolutionary model which put the sun at the center of the solar system and the planets orbiting it. However he still believed that the stars formed a shell. Later Thomas Digges (1546 – 24 August 1595) expanded upon that model to say that the stars expanded outwards infinitely which incidentally produced the “dark night sky paradox”; If the stars moved back through infinity then surely the sky would be completely white all of the time? It was only in the 20th century when an answer was found for this problem. The Big Bang Theory.
The Big Bang Theory states that the universe started in a single point and expanded out. A good place to start exploring this idea is with the cosmic background radiation which has been mapped out by scientists into what is essentially a heat map containing the “foot print” of the beginning of the universe we can observe. Knowing this gives us all sorts of knowledge about the early universe leading up the the big bang however moving forward to understand what kind of shape it exploded into needs inflation theory. The inflationary theory gives an explanation as to how the universe expanded so quickly; In a decillionth of a second (0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 001) it had expanded from something less than the size of an atom to something so massive we do no really know how big it is since it was faster than light putting it beyond our cosmological horizon (the cosmic background radiation). The horizon of discovery is still being expanded upon today.
In the second episode we explore the question what is nothing? An equally baffling concept because it is almost paradoxical in nature. If you were talking about nothing then surely you would have to be talking about something?
Excellent documentary series that covers a deep wealth of information about the reality we as humans have managed to comprehend over the centuries. I really enjoyed the first episode but the second one is especially good since it delves right into some of the modern defining moments of our understanding of the cosmos, for example the Dirac equation, its monumental connection between Einsteins law of relativity and quantum mechanics the likes of which are intensely difficult to truly understand.
The only problem with this fantastically produced and well researched series by Jim Al-Khalili is that fitting all the information (almost (by a long stretch)) we know about the universe into a 2 hour series has proven a difficult task, and for a viewer who is just being introduced to the stepping stones upon our knowledge could well end up delirious.
A very fluent documentary exploring how we have gained our current knowledge of everything and nothing.