Netflix Instant Review: How The Universe Works (And Why Humans Need To Know This If We’re Going To Survive)

July 12, 2012 § 3 Comments

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the universe.  About our planet and what really lies beyond it.  There’s a lot of problems on Earth, but damn it, I think that the future of our species really depends on what we can do to move off of this planet.  Thank God we have people looking into this.

Before I started watching How The Universe Works, I didn’t know very much about the other seven planets in our solar system, the Sun, or really anything outside of this solar system.  I thought that maybe I did, but after having watched the first season on Netflix, I realized that I didn’t know anything.  Now I probably know like .01% of the information, and that’s a lot.  How The Universe Works is an amazing and necessary starting guide for anybody else that’s interested in finding out more about how the universe was put together and how it will ultimately fall apart.

You’ll learn things like that the universe is about 14 billion years old, but also be told why we know that rather than just being expected to believe that we could date something as complex and amazing as the universe.  You’ll learn how the Earth was constructed and how close it was to never being born at all.  You’ll learn about how it’s all going to be destroyed someday.

When I was younger, I thought that the NASA program was an incredible waste of money.  Why would we spend billions or trillions of dollars on getting to places like the Moon?  What could we have really learned from that and what are we really doing to advance our species by finding out what kind of gasses Jupiter is made of?  It never made a lot of sense to me.  Wouldn’t we be better off spending that money on education or a Michael Jackson amusement park?  But more recently I’ve started to wonder what the point of any of this is and thinking that if and when the human species becomes extinct, why were we even here?

Are we just doomed to become fossils for another generation of animal that will arise a billion years from now?  Then I started to look beyond the atmosphere.  Beyond the planets in this solar system.  To some place many light years away…

To a place where a human-like species is already living and thriving.  If we could just contact them, we could potentially learn more about ourselves, about evolution, and perhaps about technology in a single day than we have in our entire history.  Imagine if we encountered a species that was very similar to ourselves, but had been around for an additional 100,000 years.

Or even imagine if we had encountered that same species, but we were about 100,000 years ahead of them and what that could teach us about ourselves as we are now.  Wouldn’t that be the greatest moment of our species existence?  Well, what’s the likelihood of that?

Watching How The Universe Works gave me a good basic understanding of how the universe began, how stars are born and die, and how galaxies form in very similar fashion to one another.  We can also learn that there are many planets out there that are of the correct distance away from the sun and the right size to potentially have liquid water and as we should know by now, that’s all you need to get started.  A planet with water is a planet that can support life and be a hot-bed for it.  And so then, if the planets and galaxies are constructed in a similar way, and if many of these planets could potentially have water, then isn’t it likely that life would form in the same way?  That our paths, even separated by hundreds of light years, are going to be quite alike?

Of course, the real question that we should be asking ourselves is not if alien life exists (because it almost surely does with billions and billions of stars supporting billions of planets) but if we’ll ever be able to contact it.  After all, even a trip past the moon seems to be difficult and as I learned in the series, probes sent to far off places like Jupiter take many years to get there.  It would be so far beyond my capable thinking ability to understand what it would take to get 100s of times further than that and be able to reach a place like that while any of us are still alive.

However, what we know now isn’t going to be anything like what we know in 10, 20, or 100 years from now.  Intellectual and technological advancement doesn’t grow at a constant rate, it’s exponential.

Imagine how insane the world would look today to a person who time-traveled to the present from 1912.  The Titanic was probably the most amazing thing that they had ever seen, and that mother sank.  Now everybody has a car or two, a television or three, a little device in their pocket that allows them to contact everyone else from anywhere on the planet, the ability to travel in the air away from icebergs, and the ability to actually go off into space and explore those shiny dots in the sky.  Isn’t it amazing just how far we’ve come from the 19th and 20th centuries?  For any rational human being, it should be mind-blowing.

So why can’t it be proposed that humans in the next 100 years will be able to create wormholes, fold time, propel jet engines at light speeds, or something else that nobody else has ever thought of?  I’d actually say, and this is just a non-genius, non-expert, regular guy opinion, that it’s quite likely and also very necessary if any of this is ever going to matter.

Anyway, what does any of that have to do with How The Universe Works?  The series, which aired on the Discovery Channel in 2010 and just premiered its second season on The Science Channel yesterday, has been crucial to opening up my mind and thinking outside the box on what’s possible.  It’s given me a basic understanding of just how the universe does work, but providing amazing imagery, excellent dialogue from experts, wonderful narration from Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, and weaving together the story for the average, not-genius, regular guys and girls like myself.

The episode list is as follows:

Big Bang 

Black Holes (Holy god these are interesting)

Alien Galaxies

Extreme Stars

Supernovas (Perhaps the most amazing thing in the universe that we know of)

Extreme Planets

Alien Solar Systems

Alien Moons

It’s been an awesome opportunity to find out more information about the alien solar systems and galaxies to find out just whats out there.  And I mean, really really really out there.  That perhaps my strong inclination to get the hell off of this planet could actually have some possibility.  That the universe is just so vast that I could never be able to wrap my head around it but this series has at least given me a start and I would recommend it to anybody (yes, ANYBODY.  This is one of those things that should be shown to every sixth grader in the country and I wish that I had seen something like this at least a few times going through school) that has a slight interest in the universe.  Or even if they don’t.

I plan on watching the series at least a few times to get a better grasp on the knowledge given and I think it’s going to be very helpful in my continued personal exploration of why there even is an us, or a planet, or a universe.  Thankfully, I know a little bit more right now on how it works.



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§ 3 Responses to Netflix Instant Review: How The Universe Works (And Why Humans Need To Know This If We’re Going To Survive)

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