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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing it all back home
In the aptly named Wonders of the Universe, Brian Cox presents the whole cosmological saga from the Big Bang to the unimaginably distant future when the final sparks will die out, with a special focus on some of the crucial events that created the world as we know it. Each of the four hour-long episodes is organized around a fundamental concept of physics. The first is...
Published on Oct. 15 2011 by Gary Fuhrman

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Content not as good as I had expected
The content was interesting but really not the best work done by Brian Cox. His science presentations are usually more riveting!
Published 4 months ago by Candace Allen


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing it all back home, Oct. 15 2011
By 
Gary Fuhrman "gnox" (Manitoulin Island) - See all my reviews
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In the aptly named Wonders of the Universe, Brian Cox presents the whole cosmological saga from the Big Bang to the unimaginably distant future when the final sparks will die out, with a special focus on some of the crucial events that created the world as we know it. Each of the four hour-long episodes is organized around a fundamental concept of physics. The first is about time, and explains how the arrow of time is related to entropy through the Second Law of thermodynamics. The second explains the chemical elements and how most of them were created by crucial events in the life cycles of stars. The third is about gravity and its effect on the fabric of spacetime. The last is about light as the messenger from the distant past which allows us to see where we've come from.

Brian Cox presents it all as a voyage of discovery, showing us at every suprising step that the story of the universe is our own story, directly related to common earthly experience despite the mind-boggling vastness of the cosmos. Above all, he communicates the sense of wonder, both at the grandeur of this vision and at the marriage of imagination and experiment which enables us to become aware of it - for as he says, we are the universe's way of becoming conscious of itself. Cox doesn't have time here for much detail on how the important discoveries in physics were made, or on current controversies in physics, but his personal sense of wonder comes across vividly. At one point while using a picture from Carl Sagan's book Cosmos to explain a concept, he tells us how that book inspired him to become a physicist. Surely young people somewhere will be equally inspired by this series, not only by the clarity of its explanations but also by the sense of wonder it conveys, which is (or should be) universally human.

Like the earlier BBC/Discovery co-production Wonders of the Solar System, this one combines spectacular location footage with equally spectacular CGI sequences (some used several times), all in 1080i. The main difference from the previous series, aside from the lack of extras on the disc this time, is that the content goes much deeper into the essential nature of the physical universe, and Brian Cox's presentation shows (to me at least) a marked improvement in clarity and depth as well. Even if you are already acquainted with most of the main ideas, you'll find them given new life here. And if you want to catch a glimpse of the wonders of the universe in a mere four hours, i don't think you can do better than this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonders of the Universe, April 7 2012
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Well done. Very informative in a very interesting and exciting manner. Not boring or feel like you're in class having to 'pay attention'. The interest is held without a doubt.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as 'Wonders of the Solar System', but still worth getting, Aug. 27 2011
By 
rossuk (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Wonders Of The Universe (DVD)
This review is based on the series as aired in the UK, March 2011. This is a follow-up to `Wonders of the Solar System'; it has the same format with Brian Cox travelling the world. As usual some science background will help you to appreciate this series, my degree is in physics. I found it a bit slow, it is also dumbed down in places, and it is only four episodes, hence only 4 stars. The account of the nucleosynthesis of the heavy elements in stars and supernovae was fascinating, we are all made of star dust (Ep 2).

Episodes (adapted from BBC iPlayer and youtube)

1. Destiny

Professor Brian Cox explores the laws of the universe. In this episode, Brian seeks to understand the nature of time and its role in creating both the universe and ourselves.

It looks at the furthest star that we know, which blew up 13.0bn years ago. It looks at the arrow of time which is always moving forward, which he relates to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy always increases, i.e. the tendency to go from order to disorder. He looks at the stelliferous era. The red dwarfs will be the longest lived stars in the universe, because they burn their fuel so slowly. The death of stars will be in a 100 trillion years time, leading to the heat death of the universe when all matter will disappear leaving only photons. However the good news is that the arrow of time gives a point in time (i.e. now) when intelligent life is possible in the universe. He ends with the single pixel picture of earth taken by Voyager.

2. Stardust

What are we and where do we come from? Professor Brian Cox finds out. The account of the nucleosynthesis of the heavy elements in stars and supernovae was fascinating. As my degree is in physics, I have already bought a text book on cosmology and am thinking of buying one on nucleosynthesis, so be careful this stuff can become addictive.

This episode deals with the lives of stars, or stellar evolution. Especially element formation in stars through nucleosynthesis and heavy elements in supernova. All the 92 elements we find on earth are made from stars, so we are actually stardust. Our sun is only converting hydrogen into helium through nuclear fusion which creates the energy that we get from the sun. The creation of elements heavier than helium only occur at the end of a stars life, when it has run out of hydrogen and a star becomes a red giant. Then helium is fused to produce carbon and oxygen. For massive stars the process continues and carbon fuses to become magnesium, sodium, neon and aluminium, this continues until only iron is formed. There are over 60 elements heavier than iron in the universe and they can only be created by stars nine times the mass of the sun. Once iron fusion has been reached, no further fusion is possible and the star collapses under its own gravity and rebounds forming a supernova in which the heavy elements are formed. So we are all made out of stardust from the death of a star billions of years ago. He ends up discussing the Orion nebula in which new stars are being formed from the remains of dead ones, a similar nebula from which our sun and solar system emerged. If we look at the spectrum of a nebula we find complex hydrocarbon chemicals which are the building blocks of life. And we find evidence of this in meteorites, including amino acids. If one looks at this episode, it shows how the death of a star produces new life, including our own.

Ep. 3. Falling

This is about gravity, and so far is the best in the series.

Cox experiences weightlessness in an aircraft, falling at the speed of gravity? The moon always faces the earth due to tidal interaction, and there is a 7 m tidal bulge in the rock on the moon. Gravity locks many solar systems into our Milky Way. The Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way are hurtling towards each other at 0.5 million km/hr and will collide in 3 billion years and Cox shows us a computer simulation. We are a part of the Virgo cluster of 2,000 galaxies. Cox then takes a ride in a centrifuge, at just over 1g he is on Neptune, at 2.5g he is on Jupiter, at 4g and 5g he is on an exo-planet (our Sun has 28g). When a massive star runs out of fuel it implodes under the weight of its own gravity and then rebounds to form a supernova, leaving a tiny neutron star at the centre, rotating at 30/s (a consequence of the conservation of angular momentum). He then goes on to consider the perihelion precession of Mercury which can only be explained by Einstein's general theory of relativity (1915), Newtonian gravity just did not do it (c 1680's).

Ep. 4. Messengers.

Professor Brian Cox explores the laws of the universe. He shows how light holds the key to our understanding of the whole universe, including our own deepest origins.

Light is a messenger that takes us into the past, which has travelled over 13 billion years to reach us, for example, the 2004 Hubble ultra deep field pictures of distant galaxies. He also takes a look at the cosmological microwave background radiation (CMB), discovered in 1965, which showed that the CMB had a temperature of 2.7 degrees Kelvin. It also convinced most of the scientific commununity that the hot Big Bang model of cosmology was correct.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Content not as good as I had expected, March 22 2014
By 
Candace Allen (Calgary, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wonders Of The Universe (DVD)
The content was interesting but really not the best work done by Brian Cox. His science presentations are usually more riveting!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonders of the Universe, BluRay, Jan. 9 2014
Eloquently and beautifully-presented series that goes back in time in human civilization in different parts of the world to introduce or illustrate concepts and then stimulates our thinking and imagination when explaining or discussing cosmological, quantum, and relativistic principles and ideas. We will most certainly watch this series more than once
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful in HD, Dec 31 2013
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Watching this in Blue ray on a 50 inch TV is amazing, and since it is not through a television provider, the image adds a whole new depth of majesty to space.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonders Of The Universe, July 9 2013
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Another great piece of work. Highly interesting to watch. Excellent reference for knowledge sake and learning about how we came about. Wonderful!
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4.0 out of 5 stars For the beginner, June 24 2013
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tornitons - See all my reviews
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Professor Cox explains well the vast universe that is surrounding us. He gives good exemples to illustrate what he says, and he always refers to the earth as a starting point for the topics he teaches us. It's well done, but a bit slow. The part where he explains what are the features that made life possible on earth is most interesting, astonishing to a certain point. But to me, professor Cox is not as good as professor Stewart, who is our host on a few BBC earth blu-rays, including India and How the Earth Made Us, which are superior, the former being a little bit heavy in content-not for everyone. Also consider Universe TV series in blu-ray, available from Amazon. Very interesting. Final words, good documentary to owne for the point of view of the earth in the universe. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey, March 12 2013
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Professor Cox's passion for the subject is hard not to catch. The simplification of the idea's within have a coffee shop feel while traveling the world. His demonstration of Darwinian thought on a cosmic level is fascinating to consider. If you find yourself a skeptic of or intimidated by the subject matter the Wonders of the Universe will provide you with a relaxing experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Astronomy...Science...Passion, March 12 2012
I've watched a lot documentary on astronomy and this one is quite different.
Not only it's interesting but it's incredibly well made.

The quality of information is excellent and all the comparisons from cosmos phenomenon against everyday's life situation are accurate and sometime left you with that weird feeling... the one I call "Geeez...sigh..."
This Documentary is divided in 4 episodes:

1-Destiny: Human life/cycle but on a cosmic scale.
2-Stardust: What are we made of... where we're from?
3-Falling: Gravity...how overestimated yet underestimated force that rule not only earth but the entire universe.
4-Messengers: Believe it or not but we're time travelers... We can't go back to the past...but science allow us to have a glimpse at it.

This Documentary is presented by Brian Cox, an english particle physicist who is absolutely brilliant.
His passion is unquestionable and it kinda rub it off to you which make it even more enjoyable.
The Graphics are gorgeous and the background music is nice... sometime a little on the loud side though.

If you want to watch a documentary with stunning effects, good and passionate story telling that gives you a lot of answers but leaves you with even more questions...this is a must...rent it, buy it or steal it... I don't care... just watch it and enjoy the feeling of how tiny we REALLY are. :)
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