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Wonders of the Solar System

Ratings: 7.46/10 from 13 users.


Wonders Of The Solar SystemIn this spellbinding series Professor Brian Cox visits the most extreme locations on Earth to explain how the laws of physics carved natural wonders across the solar system.

Brian’s love of the Solar System started young. When he was just 1 year old, he’s told, he was captivated by live TV images of the first lunar landing. That love developed into a passion for science and a career in particle physics.

Now Brian is a Professor and Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, as well as researcher on one of the most ambitious experiments on Earth, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

1. Empire of the Sun. In the first episode Brian explores the powerhouse of them all, the sun. In India he witnesses a total solar eclipse - when the link to the light and heat that sustains us is cut off for a few precious minutes. But heat and light are not the only power of the sun over the solar system. In Norway, Brian watches the battle between the sun's wind and earth, as the night sky glows with the northern lights.

2. Order out of Chaos. Brian reveals how beauty and order in earth's cosmic backyard was formed from nothing more than a chaotic cloud of gas. Chasing tornados in Oklahoma, he explains how the same physics that creates these spinning storms shaped the young solar system. Out of this celestial maelstrom emerged the jewel in the crown, Brian's second wonder - the magnificent rings of Saturn. On an ice-choked lagoon in Iceland, he sees the nearest thing on Earth to Saturn's rings.

3. The Thin Blue Line. Brian reveals how something as flimsy as an envelope of gas - an atmosphere - can create some of the most wondrous sights in the solar system. He takes a ride in an English Electric Lightning and flies 18 km up to the top of earth's atmosphere, where he sees the darkness of space above and the thin blue line of our atmosphere below. In the Namib desert in south-west Africa, he tells the story of Mercury.

4. Dead or Alive. The worlds that surround our planet are all made of rock, but there the similarity ends. Some have a beating geological heart, others are frozen in time. Brian travels to the tallest mountain on Earth, the volcano Mauna Kea on Hawaii, to show how something as basic as a planet's size can make the difference between life and death. Even on the summit of this volcano, Brian would stand in the shade of the tallest mountain in the solar system, an extinct volcano on Mars called Olympus Mons, which rises up 27 km.

5. Aliens. Brian descends to the bottom of the Pacific in a submarine to witness the extraordinary life forms that survive in the cold, black waters. All life on Earth needs water so the search for aliens in the solar system has followed the search for water. Soaring above the dramatic Scablands of the United States, Brian discovers how the same landscape has been found on Mars. And it was all carved out in a geological heartbeat by a monumental flood.

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52 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Keith Wilson

    Thanks for posting this one Vlatko. I'm mostly through the first one. I like this guy, particularly I like the joy that he has about physics and cosmology and science. It seems very genuine.

  2. esmuziq

    where is that place with the waterfalls ????
    i need to go there

  3. esmuziq

    did he just say ...
    in juli 16 2186 a solar eclipse for 5000 years ?

  4. Keith Wilson

    This is worth watching just for the cinematography. Some really beautiful camera work paired with affecting music.

  5. scruffy

    @esuzig yeah I want to go to the waterfalls too, that was amazing!

  6. HaTe_MaChInE

    @scruffy - esmuziq

    Iguazu Falls

    In July 2186 the earth will experience the longest eclipse in 5000 years... the eclipse will last 7 min.

  7. Jota

    I have already seen it some weeks ago. It's simply superb! Brian Cox is astonishing at revealing some of the “wonders” that surround us. A must see!

  8. Jota

    @Keith Wilson

    In did. The camera work and the music are very well done and combined. Lot's of creativity in that job. BBC at is best :)

  9. Achems Razor

    Superb doc.

    Watched the first part. 4 hours to go.

  10. Sam

    I love this guy =). There should be more people like him!

  11. Stef

    In resonse for those who want to know where are those falls... they are on the border 3 contries (Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil) they are called the Iguazu Falls ... The biggest quantity of water pass in those waterfalls :)

  12. hotice

    thanks for upping this, brian talks in very inspiring way i sense similar enthusiasm in him for the subject that david attenborough gives everytime in hes nature documentaries

    thank you

  13. orthodox atheist

    @ Keith Wilson

    That is Brain Cox, he has a whole mess of other BBC documentaries, many can be found here. He is the inspiration for the Cillian Murphy Character in SUNSHINE, and does a wonderful commentary on the movie.

  14. Ryan

    Wow, if this was a book I read it cover to cover. My suggestion? watch this on a big ass screen and enjoy and I agree that Cox is a joy to journey with in this series.

  15. BeepBeepImaJeep

    worth it for the visuals alone. i could watch it on mute.

    brilliant documentary. 10/10.

  16. esmuziq

    thank you hate machine :)

  17. Keith Wilson

    @ orthodox atheist

    Thanks, I have seen one or two other docs from him. I've never seen Sunshine, I'll have to add it to my queue.

  18. Cliff T

    Missed most of these when they were on TV (Much like that documentary about the mostly forgotten people from sciences history. Can't remember what it was called now)

  19. Benjinator3000

    Great doc. but the host face bugs me. He's always always talking with a creepy smile!! WTF!!

  20. Atrophy

    @ esmuziq
    did he just say …
    in July 16 2186 a solar eclipse for 5000 years ?

    I missed that one too. He was saying it will be the longest eclipse in a 5000 year stretch at 7 min long.

  21. Kumar Sanghvi

    I am so happy that I am seeing this.
    Awesome doc, beautiful background score, and wonderful narration by Brian Cox.

    As @Keith Wilson already said,
    "I like this guy, particularly I like the joy that he has about physics and cosmology and science. It seems very genuine."
    ... I fully agree to that.

    Thanks Vlatko so much for posting this documentary.

  22. TJ

    I can't for the life of me remember if I've watched this series before. Guess I'll have to find out. :)

  23. TJ

    But it doesnt really matter, I just learned something new: Neptune hasn't even completed a full revolution since we discovered it in 1848! Great stuff, thanks V.

  24. marlon

    Thank you for uploading this. Truly truly inspiring. Watching Brian, you can't help but get excited about the physics of it all just from his genuine passion and enthusiasm. A great doco and a must see.

    Thank you again.

  25. Jason

    A little back ground on Prof Brian Cox.

    In 1989 Cox was a member of the rock band Dare, fronted by former Thin Lizzy member Darren Wharton.

    After attending Hulme Grammar School in Oldham he studied physics at the University of Manchester where in 1993, while still studying, he joined D:Ream, who had several hits in the UK charts, including the number one, Things Can Only Get Better, later used as a New Labour election anthem.

    A year after D:Ream disbanded in 1997, Cox was awarded his PhD degree in high energy particle physics at the University of Manchester, based on his thesis drawn from work he did for the H1 experiment at the HERA particle accelerator at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg. This followed his earlier undergraduate first class honours degree in physics from the same University.

  26. Achems Razor

    @ Jason:

    Thank you for the interesting information! About prof. Brian Cox.

  27. Jason

    Oh i forgot to mention, He's shooting another series called Universe. Or Wonders of the Universe. This summer.

    If your on Twitter follow him @ProfBrianCox

  28. Anthony

    Definitely worth watching but, I have just one question for anyone that can explain it logically.

    Brian often refers to water as "liquid water." I don't understand that distinction. If he's differentiating between water and frozen water (commonly just called Ice), why make that distinction?

    One more thing, is there a reward for a photo of Brian not smiling? ;) He always has a smile on his face. A nice attribute, for sure.

    OK, that was two questions... :o

  29. Achems Razor

    @ Anthony:

    All matter exist in one of four states.

    "Water"...Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma.

  30. Anthony

    @ Achems Razor:

    Of course, Sir. I really should get a bigger box, or just move out of the one currently being used.

    Thank you!

  31. dan26

    great stuff!! i have lot of questions? here is one...
    how does the spin of the planets begin? when the sun ignites how does the spin occur?

  32. Epicurus


    Most of the rotation comes about from the conservation of angular momentum. Angular momentum is given by L=m*w*r2 where m is the mass, w is the angular velocity in radians per second, and r is the radius of the circular motion. Due to conservation of angular momentum, if the radius of the orbit decreases, then its angular velocity must increase (as the mass is constant).

    All planetary and stellar systems are born from the collapse of dense interstellar clouds. The clouds may originally be very large (even thousands of light years across). Consider a portion of the cloud the collapses from a size of a light year or so to the size of the solar system. That is a huge change in the size of the system. So, the very slight rotation that the cloud has in the beginning is increased dramatically when the collapse takes place. In fact, this is one of the barriers in star formation: there is excess angular momentum and there has to be a way of losing angular momentum before you can form a star.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that stars like the Sun spin from the original angular momentum that was there in the solar nebula from which it formed. Not only that, all orbital motion of the planets (including the spin) is due to this orginal angular momentum.

  33. GenesisCapter1

    Was there a set order of creation of the nine celestial bodies in our solar system? For example, did the earth form before the sun or vice versa and how about the order of creation of the other planets or did they all form over time simultaneously?

  34. Mathew

    Vlatko, thank you so much for this wonderful site. I am on here daily. As a documentary film editor, your site is an invaluable resource, not only for stylistic and technical references, but to gauge audience reactions. Just yesterday I dissuaded a director of a feature I am working on, not to narrate his film based on the comments of the users on this site. So keep up the good work people. Your comments and observations influence and aid in the creative process. Thank you Vlatko, and everyone who takes the time to watch and comment on these films.

  35. Achems Razor

    @ GenesisCaptor1:

    Just read what @ Epicurus said above. to answer your questions.

    Our sun was formed by interstellar clouds, due to gravity, which then compressed everything almost into a event horizon, the internal forces then exploded outwards leaving our sun, and due to nuclear-fusion, converting hydrogen to helium at 27,000,000 degrees at core, the sun "shone"-"light"! the remnants of the explosion outwards, again due to gravity formed all the planets in our solar system. This all took billions, billions of years.

    No, nothing was made in 6 days, and then your God rested on the 7th day.(LOL)

  36. Vlatko

    @Mathew, thanks. I'm glad we helped in some way.

  37. Ben

    This is the BEST series of videos i have ever seen. It is so incredible that Europa's surface is spinning on a 100km deep ocean, and that life has been found living in ice, and melting it to make microscopic oceans to thrive in.

    I wish i would have seen this sooner!

  38. Pedja

    Superb documentary. Brilliant. Thank you so much for posting it. Prof. Brian Cox is superb.

  39. Myzari

    You're right god did not create the universe in 6 days
    but he did create it time is not the same to one who inhabits eternity
    and is not affected by time but made time so that our life experience would flow in-order and make sense other wise we would live in eternity too and technically I could be some were before my own parents were born because in eternity you wouldn't know what time it was unless you keep track of timelessness anyway bigbang sounds like let there be light
    1celled organisms did come first birds and insects then mamals says it it all in genesis
    funniest part about the bible is you can't see these things if you don't believe it's the truth(bible)
    cause you'll be trying to hard to discredit it and god so why would he show you (in detail) what we are just finding out how many billions of years later witch take maybe a day to go buy in god time oh he's in eternity a god day would be how many years?????????

  40. Randy R

    Thanks for posting this episode, I missed it, but what a supurb show. One can't help but share in his almost boyish wonder and absolute passion for the beauty and mystery of his subject. And thank you for not revealing the spoiler at the end, with the zippo lighter, WOW !

    IMHO, this series is a must see for anyone and everyone.

  41. Randy

    Who is this other "Randy"? Again, I did not write the post above...

    At least, I don't remember writing it... lol...

    But, it certainly isn't my writing style...

  42. Vlatko

    He is some other Randy, Randy. I've changed his nickname a little bit. I hope he doesn't mind.

  43. Randy R

    Watched the second episode last night ( on the TV ) and just as great as the first, some wonderful sights and pictures of Saturn. It is really enjoyable to have a show like this focused on the Solar System, so much to learn.

  44. Solar System

    I watched this on the BBC in the UK, it is a truly an inspring show. Prof Cox became a bit of a celeb due this series, his enthusiasm and passion for astronomy was infectious.

  45. St Jimmy

    Why can I not hear the sound?

    My sound is definitely working as I can watch youtube videos without any issues.

  46. Pavlin

    Amazing series .I think one would enjoy the episodes even if they know the information, due to the incredible cinematography and presentation by Professor Brian Cox .

  47. Linus

    Phew! 5hours later and i have now watched the entire series.. He's really sparkling with joy when he speaks about the subject. Really good stuff. :)

  48. Valerio Oliveira

    Professor Brian Cox ... you rock ! ... You just speak a very clean and understandable, and I love your accent !

    Your documentary was very well done, i learned a lot of things !
    You're just awesome !

  49. lpslancelot

    @ Myzari, first off there are many reasonable explanations for how and why we have arrived at this point in time and how it works. Secondly, making an argument based on assumptions about the Bible is neither logical nor convincing, especially since you say that it requires faith in order to see such things. The Bible in no one explains or describes Evolution in any way. The Bible has been discredited numerous times in science, philosophy, logic, reason, historically and also in many other ways. People would be able to believe in such things if even half or one fourth were considered to be true. This is based on truth from an argumentative standpoint. All other "truth" is personal opinion which actually contradicts the word Truth. Third and lastly, if you are trying to make an argument a little grammar, spelling, and logical conclusions would be beneficial to your cause. Otherwise, you just look like an idiot!

  50. audiophile75

    hey vlatko,
    just wanted to let you know of a problem with this video. The first one with the player on your site played fine but the subsequent videos are redirected to another website and all those videos only play up till 36 minutes and then stop. just wondering if anything can be done. thanks for all your hard work.

  51. hh0

    amazing, he explains things brilliant .

  52. OC Development

    Its a little repetitive in some spots but overall excellent. Some of the rough models could be better. But I likes the on site video. I would love to see more outtakes.. And supplimentary educaional tools, documenation and what have you. A greater look at the microverse aand chemistry in relation to physisc would be good.

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