BBC Wonders of the Universe

a 2011 documentaries series presented by Brian Cox in four episodes: Destiny, Stardust, Falling, Messengers.

Series episodes

Destiny - The most profound consequence of the arrow of time. Because this structured universe that we inhabit, and all its wonders - the stars, the planets and the galaxies - cannot last forever. The most astonishing wonder of the universe isn't a star or a planet or a galaxy. It isn't a thing at all. It's an instant in time. Although the universe is over 13 billion years old, we still love close to the stars of the Stelliferous Era.

Stardust - Is the story of the universe and every piece of everyone, of everything you love, of everything you hate, of the thing you hold most precious, was assembled by the forces of nature in the first few minutes of the life of the universe,

Falling - Over the centuries, our quest to understand gravity has allowed us to explain some of the true wonders of the universe. But at a deeper level, that quest has also allowed us to ask questions about the origin and evolution of the universe itself. Now there's only one thing that anyone knows of that can be so small and yet so massive, and that's a black hole.

Messengers - We've since learnt that there is a vast amount of information and detail contained within every beam of light. And that information is written in colour. To reveal how colour can unlock the secrets of our universe's creation, I've come to one of the most spectacular natural wonders on Earth.
BBC Wonders of the Universe Destiny
Our sun is just one of 200 billion stars in our galaxy. Our galaxy is one of 100 billion ...

BBC Wonders of the Universe Stardust
And the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, is another 2.5m light years away. Yet despite these vast ...

BBC Wonders of the Universe Falling

I think it's fair to say, because the object in the centre of our galaxy is four million times as ...

BBC Wonders of the Universe Messengers

Our green, blue and brown eyes that are able to gaze up into the night sky, capture the light ...


Why are we here? Where do we come from? These are the most enduring of questions. And it's an essential part of human nature to want to find the answers. And we can trace that ancestry back hundreds of thousands of years to the dawn of humankind. But in reality, our story extends far further back in time. Our story starts with the beginning of the universe. It began 13.7 billion years ago. And today it's filled with over 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. In the series, I want to tell that story because ultimately we are part of the universe.

I believe it's only by continuing our explanation of the cosmos and the laws of nature that govern it, that we can truly understand ourselves and our place in this universe of wonders.

Einstein's theory of general relativity is so profound and so beautiful that it can describe the structure and shape of the universe itself. But remarkably, the theory can also predict its own demise, because it predicts the existence of objects so dense and so powerful that they warp and stretch and bend the structure of space-time so much that they can stop time, and that they can swallow light. These are objects so powerful that they can tear all the other wonders of the universe apart.

And we've seen things our ancestors wouldn't believe. Stars being born in distant realms. Alien worlds created by gravity. And spectacular galaxies frozen in time. But we're not mere witnesses to these events because the story of the universe is our story. We've learned how the dust of the stars makes each and every one of us, how a simple universal chemistry set makes everything we see. We've explored how the secrets of deep time shape the destiny of the universe and marvelled at the brief flickering moment in which life can exist, and we've seen how stardust falls to build the grandest structures in the universe.


These waves of light are messengers from across the cosmos
These waves of light are messengers from across the cosmos
and through them, we've discovered the wonders of our galaxy