Gifted educator and prolific television presenter Ted Rimmarniet explores the... more »

Full Credits

Stats & Data


[Ted in voiceover]
Last time on
Our Fascinating Planet.
♪ ♪
A big boom
created a universe,
and man looked up at that
universe to discover space.
Brave thinkers, called astronomers,
brought us to the brink of space,
where brave doers,
called astronauts,
were poised to bring us beyond
the brink of space,
and into the beyond of the brink.
[ theme music ]
Thanks to advances in
modern optical technology,
today we can look
far into the universe.
♪ ♪
And what we see
is breathtaking.
But long before we could use
today's powerful telescopes and
gigantic binoculars to
enhance our view of space,
man pointed his naked
eyes at the sky
and dreamt of traveling
into the heavens above.
The first attempts at entering space were
primitive and often downright silly.
Balloons, catapults, cannons.
- [ cannon ]
- Aah!
[Ted] Cannonpults.
Each more flammable
than the next.
Arthur Kindle describes early space
travel as, quote, rife with explosions.
Emmet Meriwether famously wrote
that it was full of explosions.
And Mortimer Appleby III characterized
it as, quote, so many explosions.
Despite the danger,
space enthusiasm was high.
And by the early 20th century,
the first space planes started to appear,
many of which exploded.
Still, man pressed forward.
[ cannonball ]
♪ ♪
And what's known as
the Space Race began.
♪ ♪
The first human in space was a monkey,
launched by the Russians in
as a way of taunting
the United States during Cold War I.
This led President John K. Kennedy in
to open the Kennedy Space Center.
Its mission was simple, send an American
monkey into space to defeat the Soviet
one that had gotten there first.
And with that, the United States
space program known as NASA was born.
- [mechanical]
- Since NASA's birth,
we've achieved a great deal in
our quest to conquer space.
We've launched satellites that charge
solar panels for use on Earth.
And we now have space stations where
thirsty astronauts can stop for
a snack while they
refuel their ships.
And perhaps most remarkably,
we have managed not only to leave
a flag on the moon, but also a man.
But we have also discovered
how dangerous space can be.
Since the Space Race began,
more than 600 astronauts
have disappeared
into dark pockets of space,
many vanishing without a trace.
But where exactly did they go?
The answer is fascinating.
♪ ♪
It turns out these pockets of darkness
are not so much pockets as they are holes.
In fact, leading astrologers like Stephan
Hawkings of Cambridge Oxford have called
- these dark holes--
- Black holes.
[Ted] Due to their
blackness and holiness.
And using complex equations and
powerful magnets,
Hawkings has proved that these black
holes are very real and very deadly.
So how do black holes form?
Well, space is essentially a gigantic
fabric the size of everything.
This fabric is constantly being blown by
something astroscientists call space wind.
The space wind causes
the fabric to move and ripple.
It also blows the various planets
around their respective suns,
causing them to orbit.
When the space wind
gets too strong,
it can cause the fabric
of space to flap about.
When the fabric flaps too hard,
stars can shake loose and blow away.
The result is what we commonly
call a shooting star.
When a shooting star whizzes away,
it leaves a hole,
and this is what we call--
A black hole.
[Esther] What happens to light in a black hole?
Have you ever been to the doctor,
and when they look inside your mouth and
they shine a flashlight, it hits the back
of your throat and then it just ends.
[Ted] Many scientists believe that black
holes not only devour light,
but also other nutritious space matter,
like asteroids, comets,
star dirt,
and even astronauts.
But how do we detect
these black holes?
It's easy to enough to see giants
such as Mercury and its tan hoops,
or Uranus and its red anus.
But what about space objects that
are much smaller, such as black holes,
which can often be as small as
a typical water slide or even a toilet?
Professor Gore Muskhope, head of the
Space Department at the state University
of Space Polytechnic,
might just have an answer.
A microscope allows us
to view small objects, so
we asked ourselves,
what if we sent a
microscope into space?
♪ ♪
But then, what if we look at
the microscope with a telescope?
♪ ♪
[Ted] With the help of GPS, UPS, and
PMS, Muskhope and his team pinpoint
the position of a given space microscope.
And then using carefully
calibrated miniature rockets,
they rotate the floating microscope
until it is aligned with
a corresponding telescope on Earth.
The results are nothing
short of incredible.
Millions of feet from my eyeball,
I'm looking in pristine detail at bits
of space rock, as if I could almost
pick one up and throw it at someone.
Or perhaps just give
it to them, peacefully.
But more importantly,
using this microtelescopary,
we have been able to locate hundreds
of black holes that would otherwise
suck up passing
spaceships or astronauts.
But it turns out there's
a moreprofound consequence
to all of this blowing space wind.
We've discovered that space
wind is not just creating holes
in the fabric of space.
It's blowing into those holes and
stretching them out, and
that is making
even more space.
Space is getting bigger.
Space is very big
and very grand.
I mean, there's so much space,
especially between the stars
and the planets.
I mean, all that
dark stuff, that's space.
[Ted] But what does this mean for
the future of the universe?
As it expands,
what will happen to it?
Imagine, if you will,
that this is the universe.
The Big Bang has just happened.
[blowing air]
Four billion years.
million years.
A thousand
Present day,
and then...
- [ocean]
- We know the
universe will explode,
probably in the
next 2 or 300 years.
So today, we find ourselves
desperately searching for
ways to outrun this ticking
time bomb before it kills us.
If we can travel fast enough
through outer space without
falling into black holes,
then theoretically we should be able
to shoot out of the universe just as it
is exploding behind us.
Which will thenpropel us
safely into the next universe.
But in order to achieve this,
we're going to have to go
a lot faster than we can now.
We have broken the sound barrier and
are just now traveling faster than smell.
However, we will need to fly at the speed
of light to outrun our universe,
and this presents problems.
Well, there are many theories
about what happens when one
travels at the speed of light.
Some believe you would
travel through time.
Some say that your body would be
stretched like a long piece of spaghetti.
Just as likely, some say your body would
be crushed into a kind of ravioli,
but with your innards kind
of becoming mushy and
then a sort of a soft
outer edge fusilli.
I'm not into pseudoscience,
let's get serious here.
I mean, it's probably the spaghetti thing,
you get stretched out,
and travel through time that way.
Spaghetti, it makes sense.
- [ explosion ]
- [Ted] We don't have an
answer yet to this puzzle.
Some skeptics say it is impossible for
man to travel at the speed of light,
let alone shoot out of the dying
universe just as it explodes behind him.
But we must remember, it was also once
thought impossible to launch garbage
into space or to send our most dangerous
criminals to prisons on the moon.
And many laughed at the idea of colonizing
Mars by building small mini-Earths,
which we will fly to the red planet,
and then live inside of on its surface.
Yet now,
all of these things are a reality.
Today's leading scientists
have almost as many ideas for
how to safely escape the universe as
there are Milky Ways in our galaxy.
The Space Race continues, but
now we know it is not just a race against
the Russians, or the north Japanese,
but against space Itself.
We are a strong species,
born of this planet but not bound to it.
What we once thought
of as a home is merely
a launching pad to
an unlimited realm.
Space, an infinite but
reachable expanse.
But before we exhaust ourselves
trying to conquer this fleeing enemy,
we must ask ourselves,
should we conquer space?
We need to conquer space no more
than we need to conquer ourselves.
Because ultimately, we are space,
especially those of us who dream.
♪ ♪
[ ocean ]
♪ ♪