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About the series

A new perspective on human life...

A personal take on the past, present and future of humanity.

This groundbreaking program shows human life from an entirely new perspective. Join Professor Brian Cox on a personal journey in order to finally explore the greatest miracle of the universe – ourselves.

For as long as humans have walked the Earth we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Perhaps most importantly of all, we have driven ourselves to do something that is, as far as we know, unique in the universe – we ask questions.

Citing the latest scientific theories, Professor Brian Cox attempts to tackle some of the greatest questions to try and understand ourselves and our place within the universe. Where are we? Who are we? Why are we here? Are we alone? And what is our future?

This fascinating exploration of our past, present and future will transport you out of this world and into a whole new dimension, as it gives you a new perspective on human life.

Facts

The human brain is the most complex physical structure we know of anywhere in the universe. There are over 80 billion neurons in the average human brain – that’s comparable to the number of stars in an average galaxy.

Just one sperm out of 180 million will find its way into the ovum in order to produce a new human; a chance encounter which seems to defy the odds and is miraculously repeated all over the world and throughout history.

Our current best theory for the origin of the universe, backed up by experimental evidence, suggests that there are an infinite numbers of universes, an infinite number of copies of us, and that the existence of the whole thing in inevitable.

The most common element in the universe is hydrogen. It accounts for about 75% of the element mass of the universe.

Voyager 1 is about 19 billion km into its journey to explore outer space. But in galactic terms it’s only just left home. That’s because the Milky Way is a billion billion km across.

Recent scientific evidence suggests that our evolutionary leap from ape to human was driven by the impact of climate change in the Great Rift Valley in East Africa; remarkably, climate change caused by the way that the Earth moves through space, as it orbits the Sun.

The most important requirement for the evolution of life as we know it is liquid water. This can only exist on a planet that is not too hot or too cold – an area known as the Goldilocks zone.

Thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope, a space observatory designed to look for Earth-like planets, scientists estimate there could be as many as 10 billion habitable planets in our galaxy alone.

Galileo once said that nature is a book written in the language of mathematics. Take for example meanders in a river. If you look at any river on the planet, or indeed the solar system, no matter how small or wide, the ratio of the wavelength of the meander to the width of the river, is always between 10 and 14.

Yuri Gagarin was a Russian-Soviet pilot and cosmonaut and the first human to travel to outer space on 12 April 1961. Nowadays, there are up to five journeys per year to the International Space Station, a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. Since 2000, the station has been continuously occupied.

If you drop a bowling ball and a feather in an airless environment, they will both fall to Earth at exactly the same rate. Einstein proved that this is because they are not actually falling, a theory he called special relativity and what he referred to as the happiest thought of his life.

Human Universe

Brian Cox

Brian Cox is an English physicist and professor best known for his easy ability to explain big science to the general public.

Brian is based at the University of Manchester and works in the High Energy Physics group. He’s also a research fellow of the Royal Society and works at the CERN facility in Geneva on the ATLAS experiment, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

Brian is a man of many talents and is also a successful musician. In the 1980s he was a keyboard player for rock band Dare until the band split up in 1992. While studying physics at the University of Manchester, Brian joined D:Ream, a group that went on to achieve UK chart success, including the number one hit, Things Can Only Get Better.

Since hanging up his rock and pop cloak, Brian has appeared in many TV science programmes, like Horizon, The Big Bang Machine and Stargazing Live. He is also the co-author of several books and was the science advisor for the Danny Boyle film, Sunshine.

He has received many rewards for his work in popularising science, including fellowships, honorary doctorates and awards for his presenting skills.