Cosmic wonders are out of this world

Professor Brian Cox is back to blind viewers with science and answer the big questions


Sunday, BBC2, 9pm

When he teamed up with Dara O Briain earlier this year on Stargazing Live, it was almost like looking directly at the sun – very bad for the eyes.

Now Professor Brian Cox is back in his comfort zone, addressing the universe from the comfort of pre-recorded television.

This time last year, the Prof was giving us the low down on a local level, exploring and explaining the wonders of our solar system.

Now he’s expanding his focus and taking in the entire universe, including Dara O Briain but thankfully not on presenting mode – just along with the rest of us.

While in Stargazing Live he was asking things like, “Where’s the camera?” and “Whose turn is it to speak next?”, he’s asking much more interesting questions this week.

Who are we? Where do we come from?

He will, no doubt, be getting letters of complaint from viewers who believe a big man with a beard in the clouds is responsible.

For thousands of years, humanity has turned to religion and myth for answers to these enduring questions.

But in this new series, Brian presents a different set of answers – answers provided by science – and they are more beautiful and more profound than ever imagined.

In the first show, Brian seeks to understand the nature of time and its role in creating both the universe and ourselves.

From an extraordinary calendar built into the landscape of Peru to the beaches of Costa Rica, Brian explores the cycles of time which define our experience of life on Earth.

But even the most epic cycles of life can’t begin to compare to the vast expanse of cosmic time.

For instance, just as the Earth orbits the Sun, the solar system orbits the entire Milky Way galaxy. This orbit takes a staggering 250 million years to complete.

Can you do the maths? It’s almost as impossible to fathom as Rangers’ tax bill.

So what are the findings? Well, among them is Brian’s assertion that time isn’t characterised by repetition, but instead by irreversible change.

From the wrinkles round an eye and a receding hairline, to the death of stars, the universe and everything in it is always getting older.

This journey from birth to death will ultimately lead to the destruction not just of our planet, but also the entire universe, and with it the end of time itself.

Enjoy it while you can.

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