Brian takes a fresh look at the concept of gravity, revealing it to be far more than just the force that makes things fall to the ground. Recent scientific breakthroughs are challenging physicists’ ideas of the very nature of reality.
He recalls some of his most iconic TV moments: being first on the scene to meet a space capsule returning three astronauts from the International Space Station; demonstrating how a bowling ball and feather fall at the same speed in the largest vacuum chamber in the world; filming in a prison wired up to explode; and standing on a majestic snowy mountain peak to explain the nature of spacetime.
Whilst revisiting his previous programmes, he takes us on a tour of gravity, explaining how Sir Isaac Newton devised a simple formula to describe gravity as a force that governs both how apples fall and how planets move in the heavens. He explores some of gravity’s stranger features, explaining how this comparatively weak force becomes the most dominant in the universe when it comes to the celestial mechanics of the cosmos: sculpting our solar system and even destroying stars.
Using the world’s largest vacuum chamber in NASA’s Space Power Facility in Cleveland, Ohio, Brian demonstrates how gravity makes objects fall at the same rate, explaining how this led Einstein to his ‘happiest thought’ and the radical rethinking of the nature of space and time. Brian also explains how our contemporary study of one of gravity’s strangest creations, black holes, is leading us to yet more revolutionary, and in his words ‘bonkers’, views of the universe we live in.
What Is Gravity? – Sunday 9pm on BBC 2