NOVA delights fans of science with updated episode on the fabric of space

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People are not conscious of being in space in the same way fish are not conscious of being in water; while NOVA’s Wednesday episode explains why we’re in “space” all the time.

Two horses running at full gallop down a stretch of the Oregon coast July 8 are not aware that they are also “floating in space;” while NOVA scientist Craig Hogan of the University of Chicago explains this concept during Wednesday’s episode – titled “The Fabric of the Cosmos” – by stating that “you can't understand anything about the world unless you understand space, because that's the world: the world's space with stuff in it.” In turn, this episode – that originally aired on Nov. 2, 2011 – is being repeated in two separate hour episodes. In turn, fans say this is yet another example why NOVA on PBS has become the gold-standard for science TV reporting with this very interesting “Fabric: What Is Space?” episode that again does what NOVA continues to do, and that’s provide those surprising clues for this story about how space is both “very much something and not nothing.” At the same time, this episode for this July 11, 2012 - airing on PBS at 9 p.m. (check your local listings) - features acclaimed physicist Brian Greene reveals "a mind-boggling reality beneath the surface of our everyday world" that can be both enjoyed and understood by most TV watchers.

Fabric of Cosmos updated for 2012

Professor Greene challenges you on the July 11 NOVA episode “The Fabric of the Cosmos” to “join Albert Einstein on a high-speed cab ride to see why space and time are truly in the eye of the beholder.”

In turn, Professor Greene explains Einstein’s notion of the mutability of space and time in a way you can readily understand it.”

For instance, the program explains how “our common sense tells us that space and time are fundamentally separate things. We experience space as a 3-D arena in which our bodies move, and we mark time with ticking clocks and the aging of our bodies. But Albert Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of special relativity shows that space and time are actually linked in a 4-D realm called spacetime. Here, explore the logic behind Einstein’s astounding insight, and play with a simulation that shows how traveling near the speed of light changes your experience of the flow of time and the fabric of space.”

Also, a recent July 4 Blog is a nice compliment for this “Hour 1 of The Fabric of Cosmos” NOVA episode features physicists who had to overcome “three challenges” to discover the Higgs particle: producing it, detecting it, and proving that they really had produced and detected it.

To put these challenges in context, NOVA introduces another perspective recently based on what the Higgs particle is: “The Higgs particle is The Quantum of Ubiquitous Resistance. I’m referring here to a universe-filling medium that offers resistance to the motion of many elementary particles, thus producing what we commonly think of as their mass.”

Thus, it also explains how “the Standard Model of physics—our best-yet model of the matter and forces that make our universe—requires, for consistency of its equations, that many of its ingredients are particles with zero mass. These particles should travel at the speed of light in empty space, but in reality, some of them - like quarks, leptons, and W and Z bosons - travel more slowly.”

Thus, tune into NOVA for more details on “What is slowing them down?”

Fabric of the Cosmos explained on NOVA

The preview for Wednesday’s Part 1 of the episode titled “Fabric of the Cosmos: explains how “space separates you from me, one galaxy from the next, and atoms from one another. It is everywhere in the universe. But to most of us, space is nothing, an empty void. Well, it turns out space is not what it seems.”

Thus, Professor Brian Greene reveals space “as a dynamic fabric that can stretch.”

For instance, Professor Greene adds: “We think of our world as filled with stuff, like buildings and cars, buses and people. And nowhere does that seem more apparent than in a crowded city like New York. Yet all around the stuff that makes up our everyday world is something just as important but far more mysterious: the space in which all this stuff exists. To get a feel for what I'm talking about, let's stop for a moment and imagine. What if you took all this stuff away? I mean all of it: the people, the cars and buildings. And not just the stuff here on Earth, but the earth itself; what if you took away all the planets, stars and galaxies? And not just the big stuff, but tiny things down to the very last atoms of gas and dust; what if you took it all away? What would be left?”

While most of us would say "nothing,” Professor Greene says “we'd be right. But strangely, we'd also be wrong. What's left is empty space. And as it turns out, empty space is not nothing. It's something, something with hidden characteristics as real as all the stuff in our everyday lives. In fact, space is so real it can bend; space can twist, and it can ripple; so real that empty space itself helps shape everything in the world around us and forms the very fabric of the cosmos.”

Scientist goes further to explain space

What’s nice about NOVA is there’s usually a group of scientists who take turns at trying to explain complex points of view to the average Joe.

For instance, Professor Craig Hogan from the University of Chicago does a good job of breaking down the concept of “space” during this July 11 NOVA episode; while stating: “You can't understand anything about the world unless you understand space, because that's the world: the world's space with stuff in it.”

In fact, space is actually everywhere. According to these NOVA experts “you could say it's the most abundant thing in the universe. Even the tiniest of things, like atoms, the basic ingredient in you and me and everything else we see in the world around us, even they are almost entirely empty space.”

Thus, the program states “if you removed all the space inside all the atoms making up the stone, glass and steel of the Empire State Building, you'd be left with a little lump, about the size of a grain of rice but weighing hundreds of millions of pounds. The rest is only empty space.

Trying to get your head around something that looks like nothing

Why is there space rather than no space? Why is space three-dimensional? Why is space big? We have a lot of room to move around in; how come it's not tiny? We have no consensus about these things. These questions are posed by Professor Leonard Susskind from Stanford University during this Part 1 episode of NOVA that airs nationwide on Wednesday, July 11.

“Fortunately,” adds Professor Greene, “we're not completely in the dark. We've been gathering clues about space for centuries, some of the earliest came from thinking about how objects move through space.”

Thus, when trying to answer questions like these, scientists came up with a bold new picture of space. And the key was to make something out of nothing, add the scientists during this forthcoming episode of NOVA on July 11.

For more information about this and other NOVA science TV programs on PBS, go to NOVA’s education page; that’s viewed as an award-winning source for both teachers and parents with loads of interesting classroom resources in science, technology and engineering.

Image source of two horses running at full gallop down a stretch of the Oregon coast July 8 are not aware that they are also “floating in space;” while NOVA scientist Craig Hogan of the University of Chicago explains this concept during Wednesday’s episode – titled “The Fabric of the Cosmos” – on your local PBS TV station. Photo by Dave Masko

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