Everything and Nothing

Everything and Nothing

2011, Science  -   68 Comments
Ratings: 8.27/10 from 207 users.

Two-part documentary which deals with two of the deepest questions there are - what is everything, and what is nothing?

In two epic, surreal and mind-expanding films, Professor Jim Al-Khalili searches for an answer to these questions as he explores the true size and shape of the universe and delves into the amazing science behind apparent nothingness.

The first part, Everything, sees Professor Al-Khalili set out to discover what the universe might actually look like. The journey takes him from the distant past to the boundaries of the known universe.

Along the way he charts the remarkable stories of the men and women who discovered the truth about the cosmos and investigates how our understanding of space has been shaped by both mathematics and astronomy.

Part 2: Nothing

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68 Comments / User Reviews

  1. flhunter

    If the most distant galaxies that are close to the edge of our visible universe have the greatest red shift I can understand that and it just seems intuitive that the light we are now seeing from those galaxies are from a more infant universe but to claim the universe is expanding at a faster rate as a result of those greater red shifts fails to make sense to me.

    So the galaxies we see that are half that distance of our visible universe have less red shift and are from a more recent past and the galaxies that are a fourth of that distance of our visible universe have even less red shift and are from an even more recent past. Am I missing something? Seems to me the universe is slowing its rate of expansion. We know the Milky Way and Andromeda are on a collision course and will merge together in the galactic near future.

    Since space can expand faster than the speed of light I’ll speculate that it can contract faster than the speed of light also. What if... beyond our visible universe or even within it for that matter, the universe is collapsing in on itself faster than the speed of light. We would never know. In less than a flash the universe as we know it would cease to exist.

  2. Mc2

    Really good doc. I liked how it explore the subject through the evolution in our knowlegde of it.

  3. esgbt

    This doc is so goood.

  4. Avera

    Please do not make generalized statements like if a star is not very bright it is likely further away. All stars do not have the same intensity. All stars are also not the same size.

    1. Misha

      ???what’s your point?

    2. Nick

      he stated that it was blinking the same

  5. Joe

    WOW! Many thanks to Dr. Al-Kahlili for this engrossing documentary and for presenting it in such a beautifully understandable way. And, thanks to the BBC for producing it and to Michael Shermer for pointing it out on Twitter.

  6. Furry Piglet

    Amazing. So much complexity and beauty! Did all of it happen by accident? Did all of this order, which grows more mind-boggling the more we learn about it, arise out of chaos?

    1. Ziggy Star

      "arise out of chaos" quite the opposite. It all arose from order falling into chaos . Aka entropy. If you believe in the direction of time. A simpler point of view is that we are always stuck in the middle, chaos order, past future, micro macro. Remove the arrow and free your mind.

  7. Peter Baxter

    It was an attempt to prove something that he didn't understand the microwave pictures of the universe shows a cosmic egg shape that is flat . No explanation of that fact and the end of the universe could be a big freeze.

    1. Andy Briggs

      I can assure you Dr. Khalili knows what he is talking about. He's a physicist. He wasn't attempting to "prove" anything: science does not deal in proofs. The "cosmic egg" shape is an effect of the projection used, like Mercator's Projection for maps. The egg shape is not real. Lastly, there will be no end to the Universe - all the matter in it will dissipate into energy eventually, but the Universe will continue.

  8. ThisDarkChestOfWonders

    I watched this over a year ago but i want to watch it again. One of the docs that got me into this site. Great watch.

  9. asolerca

    I would love to watch it but I live in the USA and I cannot find a link that works here. Can anyone help direct me to one? Thanks.

    1. Chris Scott

      Amazon Prime video carries it...

  10. Sanjeev

    A must watch for anyone with the slightest interest in the Origin of the Universe. Very well explained.

  11. Taylor Suchan

    i have this double episode show and i think its marvalous

  12. Lauren Burdick

    wait where is the full thing?!

  13. SaturnAscends

    This is an amazing piece of work, exploring space, both inner and outer. The Universe is a tantalizing and beautiful place.

  14. avd420

    Thank goodness for the BBC. Imagine if there was an American equivalent which was devoted to making doc's like this. Imagine how many more we would have! Aw well, at least we have one rational network in the english speaking world.

    Watch out Michio Kaku, you've got some competition in Jim Al-Khalili.

    Big thumbs up to the production crew on this one too. Beautiful cinematography and special effects.

  15. Warmech

    Incredible doc. Very entertaining, informative, and thought provoking. I agree with Earthwinger about having actual professionals in whatever field is being documented hosting a documentary instead of paying actors. Professor Jim Al-Khalili did an excellent job of getting me more into the already interesting subject matter.

  16. Neville Jones

    amazing, mind blowing, especially part 2 about nothing and the quantum world

  17. smugg

    the sun will be off very soon

  18. Sher Afgan

    "although this sounds completly rediclous, let me assure you that its true"

  19. tempestuous

    Pre-nothing and post everything: This leaves the question: What is before nothing? What preceded the collision of matter/anti-matter? What other dimensional collision caused this? Is there a relationship between the string theory and this matter/anti-matter reaction? On the other end of the spectrum of everything? What is beyond the cosmic web? Is it an ever conceived fractle with larger and larger scale from the observer's point of view, which breaks into yet another dimension?

  20. tempestuous

    See above

  21. Earthwinger

    Ya gotta love Professor Jim!

    One of the things that I love so much about BBC science documentaries, is that rather than draft in actors that give good face, or use husky voice-overs, they instead prefer to use scientists whose passion for their subject is infectious. And this one is an absolute "must see".

    I've actually watched it a few times now, as I find it so engaging. I must confess though, I can't help but chuckle to myself at the scene where Prof. Jim is joined by Dr Andrea Sella, who creates a vacuum using mercury. Maybe it's just me, but it seems sweetly homo-erotic, especially the bit where Sella speaks Italian to him...cute! :D

    1. Randy Levine

      I thought the exact same thing!

  22. Vladimir Bogdanov

    This by far is one of the best commentators today. Up there with Carl Sagan in my books (close second i mean). I like how this Prof narrates. And he does come across like he knows what he's talking about.

  23. Samuel Jaworski

    Thank you for this.

  24. Guest

    Frighteningly illuminating.

  25. RileyRampant

    tremendously illuminating. actually, it cleared up some of the misconceptions i've had about the nature of space.

    great narrator, too.

  26. danielmcd3

    the good old BBC.

  27. anarchimedis

    Beautiful. Cellar door.

  28. Luis Fernando

    Just to say ...5 * Doc.....

  29. arahant

    excellent documentary, very well narrated. highly recommended

  30. Metavacron

    Alright now, after watching a bunch of failed ones, this is what i call a host. He never fails me. No one is better than Carl Sagan though.

  31. Emile Tenia

    This is simply an excellent documentary... The presentation is incredibly slick even for the BBC's high standards and Jim Al-Khalili makes an engaging and excellent host. I really appreciated the fact that (at least for me) there were a lot of scientific contributions from people that aren't as well known but that essentially changed science forever... For example Henrietta Leavitt's contribution concerning Cepheid Variables for me was so incredibly impactful yet... before this doc... i had never heard of her.. Edwin Hubble actually used her work which essentially became the basis for the creation of the "Standard Candle" concept in astronomy... I was impressed and grateful for finally becoming aware of this fact...
    Plus, the experiment they conducted in the 1800's no less, which disproved the existence of Ether was absolutely incredible... Its all awesome stuff... Coupled with cool editing tricks and a salient soundtrack. Its a doc that respects its audience and honestly, its been a while since I've been so entertained/educated by a doc in sometime....

  32. Rick Tate

    Brilliant and mind-boggling. Thank you.

  33. Chris Moffatt

    @RetroRokit Agreed - fantastic documentary and so unusual not to be treated like an idiot by a television programme. Hopefully we'll see more of this type of decent science programming in future.

  34. RetroRokit

    A fantastic documentary presented with clarity, knowledge and enthusiasim for the subject matter. How refreshing it is to not be talked down to. Unfortunately many science documentaries on television, in their efforts to chase ratings, assume the viewer is not only entirely ignorant of all things science but has such a limited attention span that the smallest amount of simple information needs to be repeated endlessly over the course of the program. No proper explanation of the science involved is ever satisfactorily presented because hey surely we the viewer are only interested in the postcard views, the wow factor of how fantastically 'brilliant' science is and, in the case of Brian Cox for all the female viewers out there, the contents of the presenters pants!!!!!!!!
    To any program makers out there who may in the unlikely event come across this comment please note: If a person is not interested in science no amount of pretty scenery and fetching presenters is going to make you watch a science documentary. So more programs like Everything And Nothing please. People watch because they are interested and want to learn. I am sure most posters judging by some of the comments left here will agree we need more challenging television. Please give us a little more credit for being able to cope with difficult subject matter.
    Many also thanks to those involved in collecting all this material together.
    Ok thats the end of my rant!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Guest

      There was a day when science was solely for scientists, and the rest of the population was going about taking care of the physical workings of things, mostly producing food and "stuff".
      The internet has brought education into the kitchens and living rooms of homes. No one has to sign up with huge tuitions. On has to sit and pick and choose. Of course this does not equal attenting a full fledge university but for the majority of people there is enough to learn out there for their needs, and thanks to all the people who prefer to sit in school, that knowledge leaks in that "library" the plank of people like to visit for their personal interests.
      So ya! any curious attendee will want to be challenged.

  35. ZarathustraSpeaks

    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.
    William Shakespeare
    Macbeth, 5. 5.

    1. Guest

      AzildaSpeaks, how about ZarathustraSpeaks a little poetry!
      Shaking the spear won't do.

      i1 to 1i

      and vice versa
      one day

      a word is a word
      because of the space beside the first and last letter
      a self is a self
      because of the emptiness of people
      on each side of that person
      with others a phrase of us is written

      vertically going horizontally
      and vice versa
      every day and night
      at once

      a poet in her free time

    2. ZarathustraSpeaks

      If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get neither comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
      C. S. Lewis

      Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.
      Woody Allen

      And finally another great poet:

      why wait to be dead to be an angel
      when it is possible to be alive

    3. Guest

      still i demand(request) your bits!
      If i wasn't so limited as to only write in english, it would be tempting to lay my words all over the place!

    4. ZarathustraSpeaks

      Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim
      Bertrand Russell

    5. Guest

      dear read if you wish
      let the words unfold
      a black carpet of ink dots
      hovering over a page
      read first to the end
      read and see
      me be read
      the red sea
      take the H
      out of heard and scramble
      dare to read
      if you heard
      you are an ear
      when you read
      you are an eye
      an eagle eye
      for a cherry
      floating bottled messages
      visions not yet materialized
      suspended between
      the hidden floor and the above
      the past and the future
      remaining silent within
      listening to one self
      the shell within
      the limitless
      the vast realm
      until i win
      the pi of 1 and I
      a readdaer read
      dearraer readdaer
      re-read if you wish
      from dot to O
      opera by Azilda


    6. Guest

      After Macbeth, Woody Allen, C.S. Lewis, Bertrand Russell are you going to quote your self?

    7. ZarathustraSpeaks

      Define Self

    8. Guest

      You say:Define self

      In the context of my request, the self is the talker, the thinker, the constant observer of who i is, the only one that knows you more than anyone including you, the self is actually more you then the you anyone knows of you.
      The self is the one that proves you wrong in the dark of the night, that praises you right in the light of the day, the self is the one that knows how to love in the moment, the one that knows that hatred gets you nowhere afterwards.
      The self is what may live for ever, the self is the one that will find out when your shell dies out.
      The self is the magician who knows if you believe you can than you likely can (with certain limits due to our evolutive present).
      The self is the drop that is part of the ocean, the self sees himself as a separate drop until the ocean (or humanity)comes crashing on his thoughts.

      and the self is actually a lot more than that, he may be the inventor of what you see, feel, touch, smell, hear, the inventor of your reality.

      How do you define Self?


  36. Cool E Beans

    I have finally realized that science has bent its understanding to meet the outcomes of its experiments. 'If this is true, then that must be true' without completing their experiments. I would take the duel laser experiment and finish it. Turn it 90 degrees into its third dimension with the lasers facing up and oriented along an East West meridian and check the results (the equator is the best place for this). Then rotate it 90 degrees oriented North to South. Only after those were completed could I accept their current extrapolations.

    I perceive space as opposite from water. When you climb into a tub, the water is displaced away from you. However, space itself is contracted towards you, or more precicely, towards matter. The greater the mass of the matter, the greater amount of the squeezing of space. This is why one person can weigh 100 lbs and another more massive person weighs 200 lbs. The larger person is squeezing their space twice as much as the lighter person since they are both standing on the same Earth. This could also account for the unusual behavior of sub-atomic particles as they have insufficient mass to breach the tencil strength of space.

    The constant rate of a falling object is therefore incorrect. Two objects of varying weight actually fall at different speeds, it is just so slight a difference it is as yet unmeasurable. Think of it this way, if you use a constant object of 100 lbs as your baseline and begin dropping other objects each at 10 times the mass of each previous object, eventually you will reach a size close to the size of the Earth itself. You then have to ask yourself, is the object falling towards the Earth, is the Earth falling towards the object or are both falling towards each other? At this scale of mass, the rate of fall would be double the current accepted speed of 32 ft/sec/sec as you would have to add the Earths fall rate and the objects fall rate.

    If you place the duel laser experiment flat with respect to the plane of the surface of the Earth, the lines of space are already squeezed as much as they can be by the Earth. But as you enter the third dimension, height, this is where space becomes less squeezed by the Earth and detection of the substance of space could be found (you may have to extend the distance between the lasers to get a correct reading).

    1. Ramus73

      And your wildly inaccurate statements have to do with the documentary because?.......

  37. BetsMcGee

    "The Beginning of time."
    Could someone please, recommend any good docs on Time? I would like to learn more about what Time is so I can wrap head around a statement like that. I always kind of viewed "the beginning of time" as more metaphoric then actual. Perhaps with some more insight I can understand how it can have a beginning.

    1. tao_yor

      Michio Kaku did a good series on Time. You can see them by just typing his name and 'Time' in google. Videos flow too fast for me and I often miss how important some of things they say are, so i read Brian Greene's books. He describes time in a way where you think you have some handle on it - although as he would admit - none of us has fully grasped it yet.

    2. alans

      I believe "The Universe" series have an episode on time.

    3. MuzammilAli

      BBC Horizon Do You Know What Time Is It
      Dr Brian Cox is the narrator, excellent documentary

    4. Guest

      type Time in the search engine at the top.
      There are quite a few.

  38. zveki

    I would really like to see dark matter & energy unlocked during my lifetime.

  39. Gary V

    Superb, science never fails to amaze me. We are all living in a marvellous time of scientific understanding, never in the history of Humanity have we progressed so far & so fast.

  40. Guest

    Will go a bit deeper about the opening statements of the doc. 100 billion stars in our galaxy, 100-200 billion galaxies in known universe. But, can't stop there, our universe is but "one" of "unlimited probable universes" parallel universes, many worlds theory. String theory.

    As in Feynman's, "sum over histories" Feynman demonstrated that subatomic particles traverse "infinite" paths through spacetime, implicating infinite histories for any one particle.

    And then according to Julian Barbours "End of time" theory every single "Planck second" of our "now's" is a new universe, formed by our probable actions of our "now's" to give us our flow of time, one "now" after another, which time itself is an illusion.
    According to Barbour, and quantum mechanics everything is "static" everything already happened, we are pulling unlimited snapshots out of our picture book of albums by our probable actions in the "now" to form the ongoing reality, giving us the illusion of flowing time and reality.

    As in Heisenberg uncertainty principle, we are collapsing the waveform, just by observing, from the quantum foam with our consciousness, forming our material reality and time from energy, because everything that is, is strictly energy, there is no matter in an "Atom", only energy, it is 99.9999% empty.

    Now that is truly awe inspiring!

    1. Yeeaauuh

      You should be on Reddit. I fear your comments fall on deaf ears

    2. 0zyxcba1

      @Achems Razor, thank you again for yet another (to-be-expected)wonderfully engaging posting. The scenario you have so interestingly sketched is, indeed, truly awe inspiring. And, as a direct result of the compelling plausibility of your scenario, its inspiring of awe is thereby only enhanced.

      The implicit crux of your scenario's underlying foundation seems to pivot about a singularly indispensable assumption, that there be one, and only one, unique and immutable universal constant of nature.

      In the context of your scenario, such a universal constant would, of necessity, be consequential to, and in consequence of, the reality of its own existence; i.e., solipsistic; the phenomenon of direct knowledge: consciousness.

      A pleasant finishing touch to your comment might be a sharing of your thoughts on consciousness.

    3. Guest

      Thoughts on consciousness? Will give some of my thoughts on consciousness, but my viewpoints are just that, viewpoints, and not etched in stone for me, could change with any new evidence.

      My thoughts?...Hmmm, lets see, solipsistic? yes, we think we are our body, but our bodies are made up from atoms, tissue, etc: all run by electrical energy, but even atoms, cells, etc: are inherently conscious in their own way, can't forget about bacteria, (have pounds of symbiotic bacteria in our bodies,) all going about their job of living and dying, we live in a multitude of small deaths every second, and cell-division, rebirth. And according to quantum physics we are actually blinking off and on, we are here, and then we are not here.

      Our consciousness leaves our bodies when we dream, going off into realms of new existence, perhaps alternate realities? Leaving our autonomic system/body consciousness to take care of our bodies existence while our consciousness is travelling, not travelling to some far distant shore, but travelling inward exploring new vistas, which are just as viable as our so called material reality which is itself a grand illusion. That make our collective reality, collectively, as in the "Copenhagen interpretation." collapsing the waveform.

      We are all separate "entities" consciousness never ceases to be, consciousness forever strives to know its self. Eternal validity of the soul.

      Yes, to me "consciousness" is the one, and the only one unique and immutable universal constant of nature. Could there be more?

    4. Guest

      "A pleasant finishing touch to your comment"
      I much rather read/hear that part anytime.

      Quotes are there to help support a personal idea, not the other way around. Otherwise it's heard and read and learned, i want to hear what you feel.
      Scientists can be as dangerous as music teachers!

  41. tanzanos

    WOW! BBC has done its magic once more! Thank you Vlatko :)

  42. Pavilions

    saw these a couple of weeks ago. two fantastic documentaries that go into a bit more detail than others. some interesting editing and prof. al-khalili make for a fascinating couple of hours!

  43. capriciouz

    It's official: Vlatko reads his emails ;) This was such a good doc I was compelled to share my find with TDF. Recommend to all, of course!

    1. Vlatko

      Great one @capriciouz.