How do galaxies like our Milky Way form? Since our universe moves too slowly to watch, faster-moving computer simulations are created to help find out. Green depicts (mostly) hydrogen gas in the above movie, while time is shown in billions of years since the Big Bang on the lower right. Pervasive dark matter is present but not shown. As the simulation begins, ambient gas falls into and accumulates in regions of relatively high gravity. Soon numerous proto-galaxies form, spin, and begin to merge. After about four billion years, a well-defined center materializes that dominates a region about 100,000 light-years across and starts looking like a modern disk galaxy. After a few billion more years, however, this early galaxy collides with another, all while streams of gas from other mergers rain down on this strange and fascinating cosmic dance. As the simulation reaches half the current age of the universe, a single larger disk develops. Even so, gas blobs -- some representing small satellite galaxies -- fall into and become absorbed by the rotating galaxy as the present epoch is reached and the movie ends. For our Milky Way Galaxy, however, big mergers may not be over -- recent evidence indicates that our large spiral disk Galaxy will collide and coalesce with the slightly larger Andromeda spiral disk galaxy in the next few billion years.
This course covers subjects from astrochemistry to astrobiology, the search for other Earth-like exoplanets to life in the Universe. It also tries to answer the question what life really is, how fast evolution can be and whether life can exist in other non-earth-like extreme environments.
Noted scientist Stephen Wolfram shares his perspective of how the unexpected results of simple computer experiments have forced him to consider a whole new way of looking at processes in our universe. Series: "Frontiers of Knowledge"
Why should you bother to wake up tomorrow knowing that we're all going to die billions and billions of years from now when the universe turns to absolute zero, when the stars blink out, when we have nothing but neutron stars and black holes? Dr. Kaku says that billions of years from now we may be able to move to a different universe.
Lecture is given by by Dimitar Sasselov, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
In 1543 Copernicus showed that our planet isn't the center of the universe. Centuries later, we know that just as Earth is not the center of things, the life on it is probably not unique either. Or is it? Tonight, learn how the search for "super-Earths" - rocky planets larger than our own that orbit other stars - may provide the key to answering essential questions about the origins of life here and elsewhere. You'll also hear how we face a moment of unprecedented potential - a convergence of pioneering efforts in astronomy and biology to peer into the unknown and determine how unique Earth life truly is.
What if we could find one single equation that explains every force in the universe? Dr. Michio Kaku explores how physicists may shrink the science of the Big Bang into an equation as small as Einstein's "e=mc^2." Thanks to advances in string theory, physics may allow us to escape the heat death of the universe, explore the multiverse, and unlock the secrets of existence. While firing up our imaginations about the future, Kaku also presents a succinct history of physics and makes a compelling case for why physics is the key to pretty much everything.
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