Richard Feynman: Fun to Imagine

Richard Feynman (1918-88) was one of the most remarkable and gifted theoretical physicists of any generation. He was also known as the ‘Great Explainer’ because of his passion for helping non-scientists to imagine something of the beauty and order of the universe as he saw it.

In this series, Feynman looks at the mysterious forces that make ordinary things happen and, in doing so, answers questions about why rubber bands are stretchy, why tennis balls can’t bounce for ever and what you’re really seeing when you look in the mirror.

Saturn: Lord of the Rings

The science documentary series tells the story of the Cassini-Huygens space probe – its engineering, its perilous journey and the wonders it revealed about Saturn and its moons.

Miracle in Orbit

When and how did space and time begin? The birth of the Universe is one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy. It has perplexed the best scientific minds for centuries. Decades before space travel was possible, astronomers dreamed of putting a telescope into orbit to try and answer these fundamental questions. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when space flight had become a reality, that NASA resolved to build just such a space telescope. They named it Hubble.

This was one of the most ambitious missions ever conceived. The technical challenges were enormous and it took 12 years to design and build. Travelling at seventeen thousand miles an hour, the Hubble Telescope would take pictures of the furthest reaches of space, transmitting them 400 miles back to Earth.

In April 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched. But just weeks later, disaster struck – the $2 billion telescope had a fatal flaw in its main mirror. This was not just a disaster for NASA; it was a national scandal. Hubble had to be saved; scientists and engineers began to search desperately for a solution to the problem.

Repair work on the Hubble TelescopePlans for an adventurous repair mission began to take shape but it was two years before work could be carried out. It took astronauts five gruelling space-walks to carefully replace the instruments and patch up the telescope. But nobody knew if Hubble would be able to deliver on any of its original promises.

Hubble in spaceFinally, the miracle happened. An unexpected avalanche of data from Hubble confirmed that the telescope was fixed. At last it began to solve the most fundamental puzzles of the Universe.

Eagle Nebula Hubble has given us breathtaking images of the birth of stars; it has found black holes swallowing matter at the centre of galaxies; and last year the Hubble Telescope resolved the most fundamental question in astronomy – the age of the Universe. At last, half a century of scientific endeavour was rewarded.

Horizon marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope by tracing the extraordinary tale of triumph, disaster and eventual success of this unique window into the Universe.

Journeys in Time and Space

Kathy Sykes meets the designer of the world’s largest telescopes. Chris Riley visits New York to see a two-mile long machine that re-creates the Big Bang. Plus a look at asteroids, the earliest relics of our Solar System. They could easily obliterate all life on our planet, but what can we, here on Earth, do about it? Also, we meet the first British astronomer in over two hundred years to find a new planet.