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 / Science
The Universe the Story so FarThe Universe the Story so Far

The Universe the Story so Far

The Universe the Story so Far

From the makers of BBC Focus comes a fascinating and comprehensive special edition – The Universe: The Story So Far. Split into three sections – The Fundamentals, The Solar System and Beyond The Solar System – this special edition takes you on a journey from the pioneers who first described the Universe to the extraordinary missions exploring distant worlds today. On the way, we… - Learn about the Big Bang, the nature of gravity, relativity and dark matter - Visit the millions of bodies visible across the Universe, whether planets, moons, stars or comets - Explore what lies beyond our cosmic neighbourhood Written by some of the world’s leading authorities on astronomy and space exploration, and featuring eye-popping photography, The Universe: The Story So Far is the perfect guide to the magic and mystery of the night sky.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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IN THIS ISSUE

1 min.
welcome...

Space is full of surprises, and it seems like not a month goes by without scientists revealing another thrilling discovery. Who could forget the awe-inspiring images of Pluto, sent back by the New Horizons mission, or the fascinating news that Mars may have water? We are only just starting to scratch the surface of understanding our own Solar System, so who knows what could be waiting in the far-reaching arms of the Milky Way and beyond? In The Universe: The Story So Far, brought to you by BBC Focus, we have gone back through 13.8 billion years of history to reveal everything we know about the cosmos to date. We take a look at past and current missions of ESA and NASA, investigate mysterious worlds outside our Solar System, uncover the moons…

8 min.
the universe started with a big bang

IN A NUTSHELL How the Universe began was one of the biggest questions facing science. Over the course of the 20th Century, a series of astronomical observations and fortuitous physics experiments finally verified the Big Bang theory. The idea that the Universe was born in a hot, dense state – the Big Bang, as the British astronomer Fred Hoyle dubbed it – is one of the most important scientific concepts. But the idea itself is less than 100 years old, and it wasn’t until 1965 that proof emerged there really was a Big Bang. Solid evidence was found in the form of the so-called Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. By then, though, there was already plenty of circumstantial evidence. With hindsight, we can see the genesis of the Big Bang idea in a paper…

1 min.
timeline

1929 Edwin Hubble discovers that the distance of a galaxy from us is directly proportional to the velocity implied by its redshift. Georges Lemaître had published this in 1927, but nobody had noticed. 1931 Lemaître writes in Nature: “We could conceive the beginning of the Universe in the form of a unique atom, the atomic weight of which is the total mass of the Universe.” 1948 Ralph Alpher (left) and Robert Herman calculate that the leftover radiation from the primeval fireball should still fill the Universe today, with a temperature of about 5,000°C. This was also published in Nature. 1964 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discover a weak hiss of radio noise coming from all directions in space. The following year this is explained as the leftover radiation from the Big Bang. 1989 Launch of the Cosmic Background Explorer…

1 min.
jargon buster

COSMOLOGICAL REDSHIFT A stretching of light, or other electromagnetic radiation, caused by the stretching of space between the galaxies as a result of the expansion of the Universe. This is not a Doppler effect, because it does not involve motion through space, but is measured in units of velocity. The cosmic background radiation is light from the Big Bang with a redshift of 1,000. HUBBLE’S LAW Actually first discovered by Georges Lemaître, the law says that the redshift ‘velocity’ of a galaxy is proportional to its distance. So a galaxy twice as far away is receding twice as fast, and so on. This does not mean we are at the centre of the Universe, however. The law works the same way whichever galaxy you observe from. MICROWAVES Microwaves are radio waves that, in astronomy, are…

10 min.
the universe a story in six chapters

“At one minute old, the entire Universe resembled the interior of a star – but on a vast scale” The year 2009 could go down in the astronomical textbooks as the one when a revolution in our understanding of the Universe began. The iconoclast at the centre of this upheaval is not a person but a machine: a space probe called Planck. Named after the great German physicist Max Planck, the spacecraft was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) that year, tasked with detecting the ‘blueprint’ of the Universe – a snapshot of the seeds of the stars and galaxies that surround us today. For a century, cosmologists have been busily constructing mathematical theories that describe the story of the Universe from the earliest moments to the present day. But now,…

7 min.
unr avelling the fabric of the universe

There’s no doubt it would be the most mind-boggling journey imaginable, the ultimate deep dive – a journey not to the bottom of some oceanic abyss, but into the very fabric of the cosmos itself. Scientists are embarking on a grand project to explore the apertures of space in search of a realm whose properties could transform our view of the nature of reality. It’s known as the Planck scale and it exists at levels far smaller than the tiniest atom or even subatomic particle. Named after Max Planck, the German physicist who pioneered quantum theory more than a century ago, nearly everything about the Planck scale beggars belief. Today’s best microscopes can achieve magnifications of around 100 million times, which is just about enough to reveal individual atoms. To do…