The Universe: Season 1, Episode 14

Beyond the Big Bang (4 Sep. 2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | History
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Ratings: 8.8/10 from 92 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 2 critic

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, ... See full summary »


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Title: Beyond the Big Bang (04 Sep 2007)

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Episode credited cast:
David Ackroyd ...
Ralph Alpher ...
Nima Arkani-Hamed ...
Michael Bosemen ...
James Casey ...
Owen Gingerich ...
Marcelo Gleiser ...
Brian Greene ...
Sterling Greene ...
Early Man
Alan Guth ...
Maya Harvey ...
Girl at Carnival
Clifford Johnson ...
Himself - Scientist, University of Southern California
Michio Kaku ...


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. Written by Anonymous

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4 September 2007 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Physicist Ralph Alpher, a pioneer of the Big Bang theory, gave his last interview for this documentary. See more »


At 1:21 the narrator states: "One of these lumps of stardust, after being pummeled for eons by residual solar debris, has temperatures warm enough to allow for hydrogen dioxide, water, to build up in the atmosphere." Hydrogen dioxide is called hydrogen peroxide. Water is dihydrogen monoxide. See more »

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User Reviews

Beyond the Big Bang--One of the Best Documentaries
5 April 2008 | by (Austin, Texas USA) – See all my reviews

Of course I have a point of view--I am the son of Ralph A. Alpher, one of the pioneers of the Big Bang Theory--predicting 16 years before it was found the Cosmic Background Radiation (in 1948). However, I was also involved in assisting my father with preparation for his interview for this documentary (his interview filmed in Austin on 9/1/06). The show first aired on 9/4/07.

If you want a concise, excellent history of cosmology going back to man's first observation of the heavens and wondering "where we came from", you can do no better than invest the 2 hours (minus commercial time, about 100 minutes) in this documentary--2 or 3 viewings if you are not scientifically savvy.

Matt Hickey, who wrote the script, wrote a tour de force covering the history of cosmology from man's egocentric beginnings, to realizing Earth was not the center of the Universe, through the Enlightenment and into the very productive 20th century. He found an interviewed not only the modern luminaries but also my father--the last of the first generation of modern physicists to consider the Big Bang mathematically--more than just an "idea' based on a contrast to the "Steady State" theory of the Universe. The Big Bang puts our current Universe at about 13.7 million years old. Dr. Ralph Alpher was awarded the National Medal of Science (award year 2005) shortly before he passed away on August 12, 2007--so the Nobel Prize committee will never have a chance to correct its omission of him while awarding 4 (FOUR) Nobel Prizes related to observations (2 accidental) of the Cosmic Background Blackbody Radiation, which virtually slammed shut the door on alternative theories of the origin of the observable (and non-observable University). More information can be found on his website ( and his personal history, intended to correct some historical errors that have persisted throughout the past 60 years, "Genesis of the Big Bang" (co-authored with Robert Herman, who passed away in 1997). He even took an American film crew to traipse across Europe in order to get the best interviews and background filming possible for this documentary.

Matt Hickey should be well-known for his work on the History Channel's "Modern Marvels" series; however, his excursion into hard science and cosmology, I hope, is the first of many that will come from his production company, Workaholic Productions, Inc. Although this program, the last of the first season of "The Universe" on the History Channel, received many Telly Awards, I expect to see many more kudos for Mr. Hickey's work. I don't know anyone who watched this documentary without being flabbergasted at its quality!

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