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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Universe: The Complete Series Mega-set Blu-ray Review

For those of you that aren’t aware of the show, The Universe is a documentary series that premiered in 2007 on The History Channel that explains astronomical concepts and objects through the use of computer generated graphics and a group of experts whose expertise includes astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics. The Universe does a great job covering many aspects of science and future possibilities and making it accessible for average viewers. This sixteen disc mega-set contains all five seasons of this fantastic show.




Film (5 out of 5 stars)

I love these kind of shows that teach you new things as well as broaden what knowledge you might already have on certain subjects. Like the other fantastic History Channel shows, this one is done with good production values and in a away that doesn’t try to make you feel stupid. The experts brought in to discuss the topics are indeed professionals in their field and not just talking heads and they explain things in ways that people can relate to. I also liked the topics that the show focuses on as they are also subjects that interest me as well. I especially liked season four since it focuses on some really interesting topics such as Science Fiction/Science Fact which look at Hollywood concepts and what is actually possible. Add in episodes devoted to “Space Wars”, “Light Speed”, “10 Ways to Destroy Earth”, and “The Day the Moon Was Gone,” and you have some quality entertainment in my book.

The CGI is pretty good and it’s obvious that a lot time and the bulk of the production budget has gone into making the solar system look as realistic and impressive as possible. With the CGI spaceship that transports the viewers through the solar system, the show has a found a good angle to teach and dazzle viewers at the same time. The show moves quickly which makes keeps the show lively and keeps you interested. Here are all of the episodes spread across sixteen discs as originally described:

The Universe: The Complete Season 1

As the Earth grapples with the effects of global warming, science has increasingly looked to outer space for answers to the glaring threats facing our world. Are there other planets in the Universe with the unique ability to support life–or is there truly no place like home?
  • Alien Moons – Travel from the inner solar system to the Kuiper Belt and explore the moons surrounding the planets of the solar system. Many of these moons that were once unknown are now on the cutting edge of astronomical study. Some burst with volcanic fury another spews icy geysers and others offer the possibility of alien life. Are these strange worlds simply hostile environments unfit for humans or do other possibilities exist? Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth and to imagine what kind of life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.
  • Beyond the Big Bang – The universe began with a massive expansion, billions and billions of years ago, and it continues to expand with every passing second. The idea that the universe, and man’s very existence, began with a “Big Bang” is no longer a topic of debate among most scientists–it is essentially taken as fact. How has man come to this conclusion, and how has our knowledge evolved so that we can recreate the very first seconds of our universe and all that has developed since? Interviews with the world’s leading physicists and historians are woven together with animated recreations and first-person accounts to explain concepts such as the formation of galaxies, the creation of elements and the formation of Earth itself.
  • The Most Dangerous Place in the Universe – Take a tour of the cosmic hot zones–black holes, galaxy mergers, gamma ray bursts and magnetars. Super massive black holes can literally “lasso” the Earth out of the solar system. A clash between two galaxies can result in a barbaric ritual called “galactic cannibalism” in which the dominant galaxy’s super massive black hole literally eats the weaker one. Magnetars are a cosmic magnetic force so strong it could wipe out data on every credit card on the planet.
  • The Outer Planets – New discoveries regarding the Outer Planets are creating a fundamental rethinking of our solar system. Uranus is a toxic combination of hydrogen, helium and methane. Scientists speculate that the planet was knocked on its side after colliding with another body. Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, is cold and barren, but some scientists speculate that liquid water might exist under Triton’s icy surface. If this is proven true, Triton could be the home to one of the biggest discoveries of all time. Cold and inhospitable, Pluto completes one orbit around the solar system every 248 years.
  • Spaceship Earth – Take a high performance ride through the formation of the third planet from the Sun, Earth. A survivor of one of the most violent “neighborhoods” in the universe, learn how earth was created and discover what creatures hold clues to how life began. What evil forces threaten the demise of Earth? Complex and controversial, this is the scientific detective story of all time. Cutting-edge graphics are used along with the stories of scientists and explorers who dare to venture into the uncharted territory of the cosmos.
  • The Moon – The moon has comforted man for thousands of years. It’s been everything from a god to a compass, and the only cosmic body human beings have ever visited. NASA is planning to build a permanent outpost there. Discover how the moon came to be–if you don’t already know, you will be astounded.
  • Mars: The Red Planet – It has been fifty years since man first ventured into space, but the greatest secrets are yet to be revealed. Mars is the planet in our solar system most similar to Earth despite otherworldly features such as the largest volcano in the Solar System. Rumors of life on Mars may be substantiated as NASA orbiters and rovers discover new evidence of frozen water just beneath the rusty soil. Did alien life exist there? As Earth reels with the effects of global warming, Mars becomes the most likely candidate for eventual human habitation.
  • Secrets of the Sun – It is a fireball in the sky, a bubbling, boiling, kinetic sphere of white hot plasma, exploding and erupting. Its size is almost unimaginable–one million Earths would fit within its boundaries. In this violence is born almost all the energy that makes existence on Earth possible, yet, its full mysteries are only now beginning to be understood. From Sun spots to solar eclipses, solar flares to solar storms, the birth of the sun to its potential death, discover the science and history behind this celestial object that makes life on Earth exist.

The Universe: The Complete Season 2

We once considered ourselves to be at the center of the universe – now we know that we are just a small spec in a giant cosmos. In this season, The Universe ventures outside of our solar system in another epic exploration of the universe and its mysteries. With strikingly realistic computer re-creations, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to the edge of the unknown: visit strange and unfamiliar worlds in “Exoplanets,” prepare for the worst in “Cosmic Collisions,” and uncover the secrets of our own galaxy, “The Milky Way.” And that’s just the beginning… learn exactly what “Dark Matter” is and how it takes up 95% of the universe; take a front-row seat for the ultimate light show with “Supernovas;” and while most people have heard of black holes (which swallow all matter that they come in contact with), find out more about “White Holes” – which actually create matter.
  • Gravity – Gravity is the most powerful and exacting force in the universe. It is pervasive and penetrating. Gravity binds us together, its reach hangs stars in the sky and its grip crushes light. Gravity holds planets together, and leashes them to their suns. Without gravity, stars, comets, moons, nebulae, and even the Earth itself would not exist. Explore how science and humanity discovered, overcame and utilized gravity. Learn what it takes to propel objects into the heavens, to ride a wave or to ski down a slope. Take a front row seat as an astronaut subjects himself to the weightless wonders of the specially modified aircraft used to train astronauts known as the “Vomit Comet.”
  • Wildest Weather in the Cosmos – Imagine a tornado so powerful, it can form a planet, or winds sweeping across a planet but blowing at 6,000 miles per hour! How about rain….made of iron? Sounds like science fiction, but this type of weather is occurring daily in our solar system. Scientists are just beginning to unlock the secrets of these planets and their atmospheres. Can this research help scientists solve long unanswered questions that we have about Earth? As our own planet churns with the effects of global warming, it’s natural to look into the heavens and wonder about the rest of the real estate.
  • Nebulas – Take a tour through the “Art Gallery of the Galaxy” and view what are considered the “crown jewels” of the heavens. Nebulas are mysterious clouds of gas that aren’t classified as stars, planets, moons or asteroids. Astronomers use the most sophisticated techniques to view them since they are practically invisible to the naked eye. Nothing less than stunning, nebulas glow, reflect or obscure the galaxy’s light with amazing swirls of color. Nebulas mark the regions where the nothingness of space first coalesces, where stars are born and where stars die.
  • Unexplained Mysteries – Delve into the myths, misconceptions, truths and amazing mysteries of our unique universe. Could life exist on Mars? Is time travel possible and does Einstein’s theory of relativity support it? Is there a companion dark star to our sun and could it pose a threat to earth? Learn about the spark that lit the big bang. Take a journey from science fiction that predicted all these things, to the scientific reality of what they mean to us in the ever-changing universe.
  • Constellations – A constellation is a group of stars that are connected together to form a figure or picture. These star pictures help organize the night sky and provide a useful tool for astronomers even today. Explore some of the 88 official constellations and learn about some of the highlights of each–like the star that’s due to go supernova in the constellation Orion. Discover the 13th zodiac sign that no one talks about, and find out why Polaris, the North Star, will one day have to surrender its title.
  • Supernovas – A stellar explosion, the supernova is the sensational death of a star. It can shine as bright as 100 billion Suns and radiate as much energy as the Sun would emit over 10 billion years. Jets of high-energy light and matter are propelled into space and can cause massive Gamma Ray Bursts and emit intense X-ray radiation for thousands of years. Astronomers believe that this process creates the very building blocks of planets, people and plants. Meet the world’s leading Supernova hunters, and take a look at recorded supernovas throughout history.
  • Space Travel – When man finally broke free of the Earth’s gravitational pull the dream of traveling to other planets became a reality. Today scientists are proposing a bizarre array of technologies in the hope of traveling faster through space: from space craft sporting sails that catch laser beams, to propulsion engines powered by a bizarre entity known as anti-matter. Finally explore the science behind the seemingly fanciful notion of warp-drive and a theoretical particle that can travel faster than light.
  • The Milky Way – We used to think that Earth was at the center of the universe, but now we know we’re not even at the center of our own galaxy. Countless wonders exist between where earth is situated and the massive black hole at the galactic center of our solar system. Within the Milky Way can be found the debris of old, dying stars fueling the birth of new stars and at the galactic center hyper-velocity stars get catapulted clear beyond the Milky Way’s outer rim at unimaginable speeds. Come along for a guided tour of 100,000 light-year-wide family of stars and stellar phenomena we call The Milky Way.
  • Mysteries of the Moon – For thousands of years, mankind has found comfort in its presence. It’s been a lantern for nighttime travelers, a timekeeper for farmers, and a location finder for sailors at sea. For some cultures, it’s even been a god. It’s the only cosmic body ever visited by human beings. From afar, the Moon’s luminance has captivated us since the beginning of time. And a closer look at the beacon in the dark sky reveals an ever-present source of myth, intrigue, controversy and unsolved mysteries. The field of science may cast an empirical light on some things about the Universe, but lunar experts are the first to admit they don’t have all the answers when it comes to our Moon. This episode explores the theories behind Lunar Transient Phenomena that have left scientists stumped for centuries; takes to the Canadian waters to see how the Moon effects our planet through tides; and dusts off some age-old myths and weighs arguments that without our Moon, humanity may not even exist.
  • Cosmic Holes – Today, we know black holes exist, and now scientists are trying to confirm that other holes lurk in hyperspace. Our infinite cosmos could contain a variety of “holes” such as black, white, “mini” and wormholes. White holes are the reverse of black holes; instead of matter being sucked into it, matter is ejected out. Wormholes are gateways in the fabric of space and time. They are included in Einstein’s field equations as possibilities for their existence. Neither white holes nor wormholes have ever been found. Learn about new discoveries including, colliding binary black holes, intermediate black holes and manufacturing mini black holes.
  • Alien Planets – Have planet hunters finally found proof of other Earth-like worlds? Astronomers have now discovered over two hundred alien worlds, beyond our solar system, that were unknown just a decade ago. Discover planets that rage with fiery hurricanes and bizarre planets covered by water so dense that it forms a kind of hot ice. Among these weird worlds, Earth actually seems like the oddball with the right conditions for life.
  • Alien Galaxies – To know our place in the universe take a look far, far away to the realm of Alien Galaxies. Our galaxy is one of hundreds of billions in the universe. The Milky Way consists of more than a billion stars, our sun being only one of them. Take a view of the universe through the Hubble Space telescope and go back almost all the way to the Big Bang. Cutting-edge computer graphics are used to bring the universe down to earth to show what life would be like on other planets, and to imagine what life forms might evolve in alien atmospheres.

The Universe: The Complete Season 3

For this third season of The Universe, see how NASA is arming itself with the latest technology to preempt an apocalyptic attack in “Deadly Comets and Meteors.” Learn how scientists envision reproduction and human development in “Sex in Space,” and explore startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own in “Parallel Universes.”
From bizarre clouds to the hypothetical Planet X, from space disasters to space sex and the possibility of terrifying cosmic collisions, experience space in a whole new way–not through a telescope or textbook, but firsthand. With The Universe, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to the edge of the unknown.
  • Edge of Space – Low Earth Orbit, 120 miles above sea level, is where the majority of space exploration has occurred. This 1,100 mile band around Earth is where–for a cool $20 million–any private citizen can take the vacation of his or her life on the International Space Station. Commercial prospects for LEO are huge; but dangers lurk for any individual willing to travel here–radiation, cosmic rays, and space debris numbering in the thousands threaten any spacecraft traveling in orbit. It’s the new frontier, or the final frontier…and the possibilities are endless if you are willing to travel to the edge of space exploration.
  • Cosmic Phenomena – A variety of cosmic events have both helpful and harmful effects on life on Earth. From the beauty of the Aurora Borealis and rainbows to the dangers of UV radiation and cosmic rays, from the miracle of photosynthesis to the thrill of a meteor shower, this episode explores how the effects generated by the sun and other extra-solar sources can literally get under our skin, scramble our technology, make life possible and threaten our existence all at the same time.
  • Strangest Things – From stars, galaxies and moons to subatomic particles, black holes and invisible phenomena, discover the most bizarre, mysterious and exotic things in our universe. Learn about actual alcohol clouds floating in space that are filled with organic molecules which produce complex compounds like ethyl alcohol, the stuff we drink. Is there a hypothetical planet that exists beyond Neptune and what are pulsar planets? Mini Black Holes are a theoretical idea, but if they were to exist, some theorists speculate that they might have been produced shortly after the “Big Bang.” Finally, delve into dark matter, a hypothetical form of matter that is invisible yet it exists everywhere.
  • Another Earth – Could we be unique in the universe or is there another planet similar to Earth somewhere in the cosmos? Is it possible that Alpha Centauri, our nearest star, is home to another earth-like planet? Earth sized planets have been hard to find, but indirect methods are coming on line to give scientists a good survey of how many such bodies may be in the universe. How rare would it be to find life on another earth-like planet?
  • Stopping Armageddon – It sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster: a deadly asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. But in reality, it’s only a matter of time before a giant space rock threatens to wipe out civilization. An asteroid took out the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago. Are we next? This episode analyzes the threat and explores the many ways–from a nuclear bomb to ingenious new technology–that experts are proposing to stop Armageddon.
  • Sex in Space – As man moves to colonize the cosmos, the realities of sexual relationships and reproduction need to be addressed. Probe the physiological, psychological and cultural challenges of sex in space. From the sex act through birth, look at how the extreme environments of space exploration might effect copulation, conception and developing human tissues, as well as how issues around sex might impact the emotional lives of astronauts. Get to the bottom of the rumors to find out if space sex has already happened, and look at how the burgeoning space tourism business may soon lead to a boom in space sex.
  • Parallel Universes – Some of the world’s leading physicists believe they have found startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own. One possibility is that the universe is so vast that an exact replica of our Solar System, our planet and ourselves exists many times over. These Doppelganger Universes exist within our own Universe; in what scientist now call “The Multiverse.” Today, trailblazing experiments by state of the art particle colliders are looking for evidence of higher dimensions and Parallel Universes. If proof is found, it will change our lives, our minds, our planet, our science and our universe.

The Universe: The Complete Season 4

The fourth season of The Universe transports viewers past the wonders of our own solar system and out to the bizarre far-flung reaches of the cosmos. From death stars to ringed planets, star clusters to space wars, The Universe uses new discoveries and more advanced CGI to help explain the mysteries of outer space. From wormholes to transporters, examine which elements from popular sci-fi movies could really exist; and discover how the universe is awash in all sorts of strange liquids, from oceans of methane to blobs of alcohol floating in space, and even iron rain. Watch and marvel as experts cook up ten ways to destroy the Earth, including blowing it up with anti-matter, hurling it into the Sun, and colliding with another galaxy.
  • Extreme Energy – Ours is a universe of energy, from powerful jets ejected from black holes to the raw nuclear fury of our Sun. But, the total amount of energy in the universe maintains perfect equilibrium–no more can be added or taken away. Because of this, there are enormous amounts of energy being transferred…electric, thermal, kinetic and magnetic energy are just a few that keep our universe balanced–and create awesome cosmic events and stellar displays.
  • Science Fiction/ Science Fact – Warp speed, transporters, wormholes and lasers–they are all staples of science fiction books, movies, and TV shows. But the fantastic world of tomorrow is quickly becoming the futuristic world of today. While you may not be “beaming” to your next appointment any time soon, researchers are preparing for the first tests of a present-day “transporter.” And while scientists have long mocked Hollywood’s visions of warp speed and faster-than-light travel as prohibited by Einstein’s laws, a new generation of physicists continues to rewrite the fundamental rules of the universe. Is there a way around the cosmic speed limit? Maybe… as long as you’re prepared to survive a journey through the ultra-high energies of one of the most violent places in the cosmos–the heart of a twisting, swirling vortex that leads either to strange, new worlds… or certain death.
  • Pulsars & Quasars – They sort of sound like the same phenomenon, but Pulsars and Quasars are very different. Pulsars are tiny–only a few miles across–but they spin as fast as a kitchen blender and sweep the sky with beacons of radiation that make them appear to flash on and off. They have unbelievably strong magnetic fields, are more accurate than atomic clocks…and they can even tell aliens just where to find the Earth! Quasars are at the other end of the spectrum. Quasars are huge cores of galaxies with black holes that are called “monsters” and which spit lobes of radiating gas called “DRAGNs.” Quasars are so far away, we see them as they were only in the distant past–meaning they existed only in the early universe, when they may have played a major role in the creation of the galaxies themselves.
  • Liquid Universe – On alien planets, they rain from the sky is scalding iron. On distant moons, even at hundreds of degrees below zero, they slosh around in pristine lakes of methane. They can cover entire planets in miles-deep oceans of electrified hydrogen metal. Or erupt on alien worlds through miles-high geysers. They churn in the interiors of dead stars and even our own planet. They’re so rare in the universe, they almost don’t exist, but these are the magical liquids of our Liquid Universe.
  • Space Wars – Outer space is already an essential part of America’s ability to fight wars. Our military depends on satellites for many things, such as communications, reconnaissance and targeting information. But so far, no country has put weapons into space, although the U.S. and China have both shown they can shoot down satellites with ground-based missiles. If weapons do become a part of space, how will they work, how effective will they be, and what type of damage could they do? From ground-based lasers to telephone-pole sized rods hurtling from space at two miles per second to the far out weapons of the distant future, it’s time to “lock and load” for Space Wars.
  • 10 Ways to Destroy the Earth – In this episode, experts cook up ten ways you could destroy the earth, including: swallowing it with a microscopic black hole; blowing it up with anti-matter; hurling it into the Sun, and switching off gravity. This is a fun way to explore the dangerous physics of the Universe and the properties of the planet we call home.
  • The Hunt For Ringed Planets – They are breathtaking, lethal and a constant source of surprise. The stunning rings of Saturn have mesmerized countless scientists over the centuries. With particles the size of a house shooting at 53,000 miles per hour around the planet, any spacecraft passing through would meet an instant and catastrophic end. Inside the rings is like a NASCAR race–with bumping, jostling and frequent collisions that can cause a massive spin-out. Lesser known are the other planets that have rings–Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune, possibly Pluto and Mars. Even Earth has a ring. Comprised of some 200 satellites in a geosynchronous orbit, it is the only known man-made ring in the universe. But the most remarkable thing about rings is that they contain the story of the birth of our solar system, and entire distant galaxies. Rings are more than a wonder of the universe–they reveal the secrets of our own origins.
  • Biggest Blasts – The Universe is full of explosions that both create and destroy. The Chicxulub impact on the Yucatan peninsula, which may have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, was two million times more powerful than the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated on Earth. But guess what? That’s only good enough for the very bottom of the Biggest Blasts top ten list. This episode works its way up through supernova explosions and gamma ray bursts all the way to the blast that started it all–the Big Bang.
  • It Fell From Space – Every year, thousands of objects both natural and man-made plummet through our atmosphere and crash into the Earth. These menacing messengers from the sky provide scientists with amazing insights into the natural, and not so natural, phenomena of the cosmos. From space rocks crashing through homes to cosmic boulders triggering mass extinctions to rocket parts landing on front lawns, explore objects that fall from the heavens, such as asteroids, comets, meteor showers and space debris.
  • The Day the Moon Was Gone – Without the moon, Earth would be a very different and desolate place today–four hours of sunlight with pitch-black nights, steady 100-mph winds spawning giant hurricanes that last for months, and virtually no complex life forms, much less humans. Safe to say, we probably owe our very existence to the moon. But what if it suddenly disappeared? Solar gravity redirects ocean water that floods coastal spots around the globe. Sea currents shift, resulting in freakish weather patterns. Eventually, earth’s axis begins fluctuating wildly and climate change grows more extreme. The poles are tropical jungles and parts of the equator become frigid wastelands. Human evolution starts churning in unpredictable ways or ends completely. Without the moon, the Earth is a very different place.
  • Death Stars – For most, it’s the deadly centerpiece of the film Star Wars. But in truth, real death stars are in the final stage of life before they explode into supernovae and, occasionally, the biggest blast in the universe–the gamma ray burst (GRB). One death star, named WR104, lurks 8,000 light-years from Earth and some believe its GRB arrow is aimed directly at us. A death star galaxy named 3C321 is a terrifying vision of what could one day befall the Milky Way galaxy: a companion galaxy’s black hole is hammering it with a constant blast of high-energy particles, wreaking havoc with its celestial bodies. Nearby, Death Stars Eta Carinae and Betelgeuse burn through their fuel supplies as they hurtle toward extinction–and possibly a violent ending that’s too close for comfort.
  • Light Speed – According to the laws of physics we can never travel faster than the speed of light…or can we? Light speed allows us to see things instantly here on Earth, and shows us the entire history of the universe going back nearly 14 billion years. Learn all about light speed, the ultimate constant in the universe and discover ways scientists envision breaking the “light barrier” which may be the only way the star travel of our imaginations ever comes to reality.

The Universe: The Complete Season 5

It’s been 50 years since man ventured into the unknown, and the heavens are only now yielding their greatest secrets. Follow in the galactic path of The Universe, which this season leads us even further into the world beyond our own.
From robotic rovers on Mars to NASA probes slamming into comets and deep space telescopes capturing violent images of the birth of stars, season five of this illuminating series explores how these discoveries were made – and who made them. Dramatic CGI and interviews with expert cosmologists, astronomers and astrophysicists bring the history of the heavens down to earth and provide a glimpse into our future.
  • 7 Wonders of the Solar System – We are in the midst of the greatest era of space discovery. 21st century spacecraft and sophisticated imaging technology are venturing into un-chartered territory every day–and much of the extraordinary phenomenon is happening right in our own cosmic backyard. Take an exhilarating, unprecedented exploration of the seven most amazing wonders of our solar system. Our virtual tour begins with a trip to Enceladus, one of Saturn’s outer moons, where icy geysers spout from its surface. Then venture to Saturn’s famous rings, which contain mountain ranges that rival the Alps. Next dive into the eye of the biggest storm in the solar system–Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Soar through the Asteroid Belt, containing millions of leftover rocks from the formation of the solar system. Trek up Mount Olympus, the largest volcano, located on Mars. Have a close encounter with the searing surface of the sun, and finish the journey by exploring our home planet Earth.
  • Mars: The New Evidence – In the last few years, the Red Planet has yielded up many new clues that life may have once existed there…and may even exist there today. There is now have proof that water once flowed on the surface, that Mars once had lakes, and that the frozen poles are mostly water, not carbon dioxide as previously thought. Mars has snow–an aurora–and lightning generated by dust storms. Most intriguing of all are the seasonal plumes of methane that just may point to bacteria living below the surface.
  • Magnetic Storm – It bursts from the sun with the power of ten thousand nuclear weapons… and when it hits our planet, it could create the largest disaster in recorded history. A magnetic storm from the sun could wipe out electrical power, television, radio, military communication, and nearly every piece of electronics in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a “Solar Katrina” — a planet-wide “hurricane” of magnetic forces that scramble all 21st Century technology, possibly for good. What causes this magnetic super-storm? Why is magnetism so powerful — and yet so poorly understood? And is there anything we can do to prevent the Magnetic Storm?
  • Time Travel – One of the Universe’s most enduring mysteries is Time Travel. In this episode, we explore the possibilities. Discover why Time Travel into the future is unavoidable in the Einsteinian world of Relativity. As for the past… the laws of physics do not tell us it’s impossible, but the bizarre consequences of going into the past and altering the future make for mind-bending science. Finally, we go for the future by traveling to the nearest star, 4.3 light years away… in only 45 days. Our destination may be an Earth-like planet; a planet scientists are now hunting for, and may find in the next 3 to 4 years.
  • Secrets of the Space Probes – They’ve discovered water on other planets, and snatched the actual building blocks of life from a comet’s tail. But can space probes find a new Earth…and even make contact with alien life? In the 21st century, space probes are photographing, drilling and even sniffing new worlds in the quest for life, and scanning thousands of distant suns trying to detect Earth-like planets. It’s only a matter of time before space probes unlock the secrets to extra-terrestrial life and the universe itself.
  • Asteroid Attack – What are the latest discoveries in the deadly world of asteroids? Will a recently returned Japanese spacecraft become the first to bring an asteroid sample back to our planet? What would happen to America’s East Coast if the massive asteroid impact that helped form Chesapeake Bay 35 million years ago struck today? And why did President Barack Obama choose an asteroid as the destination for the next great manned mission into space? Learning about these huge space rocks isn’t just about science, it’s about survival.
  • Total Eclipse – Once they were dreaded and thought to be dragons eating the sun–but modern science has dispelled mythology and we now look forward to total Solar Eclipses as one of the most spectacular phenomena in the heavens. Explore the complex movements of Earth, Moon and Sun that produce these unusual events and hear details why we may be the only intelligent beings in the known Universe to witness eclipses like we see on Earth. Man-made eclipses also figure into the science in the form of instruments called “coronagraphs.” They blot out the sun and reveal its corona, uncovering secrets which, while enlightening, also warn of a disaster that could make our advanced technology crash and burn. Finally, travel into deep space, where the tiny eclipses caused by planets circling distant stars is now beginning to reveal hundreds more stars where “exoplanets” exist… perhaps even those in habitable zones like the Earth.
  • Dark Future of the Sun – Our Sun has served Earth well for almost five billion years. It’s bathed us with heat and energy. But like humans, our home star is mortal. In five billion years, it will stop nurturing its planetary offspring. The aging star will bloat out beyond the orbit of our planet incinerating all living things–including humans if we’re still around.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)

These 1080p (1.78:1) transfers look very nice and detailed. They are the same transfers as found in the previous separate releases. Colors are especially vivid especially during the CGI segments that look especially lush. Traveling through the cosmos looks fantastic and the black levels are suitably dark and inky as they should for the final frontier. I wasn’t as impressed with the live action parts with the experts superimposed on an image that isn’t as seamless as it should be. The space parts are where the image quality shines and they look fantastic.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

For some reason the first four season of the show only offer a LPCM 2.0 Stereo track but season five has a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix which sounds great. Dialogue from the narration and onscreen interviews is clear and never overwhelmed by effects or music. While this is mostly a front speaker heavy mix, the satellite speakers are used as well and there’s some nice panning effects with the spaceship and effects. Without a doubt, season five sounds the best out of the set, but all of the seasons sound good and are perfectly acceptable for this kind of show.

Special Features (4 out of 5 stars)

Taken separately, there aren’t a lot of extras but when you add them all together into one box set like this, then it starts looking pretty good. There’s a lot of good documentaries and I was especially glad that the History Channel included the bonus 3D Blu-ray disc of the Seven Wonders Of The Solar System episode.
Season 1:
  • Beyond The Big Bang – A ninety minute documentary that covers a lot of the theories on how the The Big Bang shaped and created our universe. It’s very in depth and very well done and it’s a nice extra to get for a show that’s about the universe.
Season 2:
  • Backyard Astronomers – A bonus episode devoted to the amateur astronomers and their passion for astronomy. This almost hour long extra offers a lot of spectacular images that can be seen with equipment you can buy for home use.
Season 3:
  • Universe Facts and Photo Gallery-
    • Deep Space Disasters / Parallel Universes / Light Speed / Sex in Space
    • Alien Faces / Deadly Comets and Meteors / Living In Space / Stopping Armageddon
    • Another Earth / Strangest Things / Edge of Space / Cosmic Phenomena / Bonus
Season 4:
  • Season four offers two short featurettes “Meteors: Fire in the Sky” and “Comets: Prophets of Doom,” both of which seem to have been leftover footage from the episodes. Just don’t expect a lot since the longest of the two is under ten minutes.
Season 5:
  • There are no extras for season five.
Mega-set Bonus Disc:
  • There’s a bonus disc with the Seven Wonders Of The Solar System episode presented in Blu-ray 3-D with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. This is the same forty-seven minute release that was sold separately awhile back and if you’d like to read the review for this disc, you can do so here.

Final Thoughts (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

This is a very informative show and I learned a lot from each one of these seasons. I especially liked the episodes that touched on the possibilities of science fiction concepts coming true, but all of them were very good. If you are interested in either astronomy, science, and/or cosmology, then you will most likely enjoy this show. This is a great way to learn new concepts since it’s presented in such a creative and visually stimulating way. I highly recommend this set to families, especially since you will also get the bonus disc too!
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